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Yesterday MA and the dogs and I had a breathtaking walk in the hills above the Twisp River. Breathtaking in more ways than one. We are in the midst of one of those cold snaps where the early morning temperatures are below zero; where the dogs don’t waste much time when they are sent out to do their business; where it takes some time to get dressed just to go outside and you wonder how the dogs do it without any extra clothes. But they go out happily and wish I’d take them on more walks. The cold wasn’t the only breathtaking topic. So were the views. Cold weather is often accompanied with blue, blue skies and snow-covered mountains. A surprise, not so much breathtaking but a surprise none the less, was finding a geocache on top of a hill. To me it seemed altogether too obvious even without the help of a gps and coordinates. Maybe it would have been harder if we’d been searching for it. We opened it and left a note and a dog cookie. We had breathtaking views of birds – a Kestrel kiting (hovering) in search of prey: Common Ravens soaring and laughing: three Red-tailed Hawks soaring and falling together – maybe a sign of choosing their territories. Breathtaking was seeing a cougar loping across the hill below us! Luna had erupted into her serious bark and Frida had her hackles up. Luckily Sky was behind us and didn’t rush to see what all the fuss was about. She knows that bark means danger ahead. MA and I watched for a moment before the cougar came into our field of view maybe fifty meters away. Maybe less. I expect that when Luna first saw it, the animal was much closer than that. We regrouped and made a swift retreat, back the way we came from, stopping to leave another note in the geocache.

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