The dog, who has scorned fetching the newspaper until the sun breaks over the mammillated hill, breaks fast this morning and we continue toward the trail.
A snakeskin tread runs plain through the sand. A sign my neighbor is riding before work.
We hit the wash. A fresh splash thrown up on the rocks, too high for the steam to have done on its own.
The tread resumes and I think we might meet on his return.
But one small paw print crosses over and suddenly there is nothing to track. The sand a muddle. In a sweep of foot and rolling fur, coyotes have covered his escape.
The dog knows where to go. Up-canyon were the coyotes den.
The rubber tire snake is back.
As we ascend, the track turns old. Now I see another hiker's mark in the cold mud. A sliding Sisyphus in LL Beans has clodhopped craters, days old now and concrete.
A shard of cloudy church glass ice fills a shaded hole. Today may be its last unbroken.
Why did you keep climbing? To reach the top of the mountain? There's nothing there but another mountain. All will still be there when it's dry.
We turn at the accustomed place, a rock ledge good for pissing.
I have been watching the scat all the way up and mean to examine it on our descent.
Winter's mince pies of fallen quince and crab apple and rotten prickly pear alternate with grey poop, some like dryer lint but also plugs of high-caliber wadding.
Soon, no more vegan coyotes. The rabbits mill in the greasewood, tourists pretending to make up their minds.
On the way up I had my eye on a red conglomeration studded with what might have been juniper berries still blue, but the dog was too eager on the downhill and I did not want to hold her back.
We cross the stream again. The dog drinks coyote water but has a pointer's indifference toward chasing the rabbits.
Given the choice, perhaps the coyotes would prefer Taste of the Wild.