Sunday I did an MTB ride-along with San Dieguito River Park Senior Ranger Dave Hekel. After my recent Coast-to-Crest Trail trip I had some questions about the park and tagging along on his Sunday patrol was an easy what to chit-chat about the park and get in a ride. I ride Lake Hodges quite often as of late. It is right on the way home so it is in the routine post-work ride rotation. I have seen lots of critters out here on these trails. Deer, snakes, coyotes, rabbits and all kinds of birds. On this ride I ended up with a critter encounter of completely different sort.
While riding the “high road” single track on the north side we came across an obviously distressed little coyote pup stumbling across the trail like a drunken sailor. After a quick look around the hillside to see if mom was anywhere nearby, I scooped this critter up. It was tiny and whopped and did not resist in the slightest to me picking it up. A quick scan showed that this female pup was not injured but had pretty big tick in one ear. Dave went up the canyon to see if there was an unattended den but could not find anything. We guessed that this little gal had been away from momma for a least a full day or two.
Talk about camouflage. Look how the coat is a spot on match to the hillside in the background. While Ranger Dave made phone calls I gave her some water. I took the top off of my water bottle and turned it upside down and used it as a small bowl. She drank quite a bit of water and it seemed to help as after about 5 minutes she would have a spat of being squirmy. I’m thinking instincts were telling her to get away. I found that if you held her close to my chest she would stay calm. (Much better than the one-handed holds for posing her for the camera)
While Ranger Dave was getting all of the arrangements made quite a few riders came by so the this pup because the star of trailside show and tell session.
Soon the rangers had a plan. I rode/walked the rest of upper singletrack with this pup nuzzled up between one hand and my chest to a meet up spot with another ranger with a truck. While Dave and I waited for the other ranger to arrive the pup feel asleep in my hands. There was a point when we wondered if she had “checked out” but then I could feel her chest going in and out so things were good. Once the other rangers arrived we handed off the pup to them and they were off to a nearby wildlife recovery facility.
After that we went off to finish out the rest of the patrol. We did encounter a rattlesnake on the trail and I did a slight bump stop into the back of Dave. Normally seeing a rattlesnake is kind of a big deal but considering that this was the 14th rattler I have seen this year (I typically only see 2-4 a year) along with the coyote pup just a little while ago, this rattler sighting was kind of ho hum. It was a beautiful day but after the coyote pup and the rattler then return trip back the ranger office was uneventful. This was a most excellent day to be out on a bike and reinforced to me that your next life enriching event could be right around the next bend in the trail.