Though it was late in the season, D and I thought we'd give Moose Mountain one last try. I didn't figure we'd get much beyond the switchbacks, but even that would provide a great hike and some stunning views.
But it wasn't meant to be. About 45 minutes into the hike we saw these prints along the trail:
They trailed along both sides of the trail. At first we thought it was bear, just due to the size of the imprint in the snow -- it was clearly a large furry foot. But when I got home and did a little research, the prints were more than likely from a feline paw. And at that size, likely cougar. There had been numerous fresh deer and elk prints across the trail that morning. That's usually a good enough sign a predator might follow.
We turned around (obviously) and headed back to the trailhead. It was a tough thing to do. It was a beautiful November day, full sunshine, not even the lightest breeze, no one else on the trail. And that last reason was a key point in turning around.
I took one last shot as we headed back. We'll make sure to get back to Moose Mountain as soon as the access road opens again.