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    Mountain Cat (Arizona)

    - draft
    2003/03/10
    -  +
    .First Posted: March 10, 2003.

     
    The big sale at Summit Hut (a great store with great service) didn't have any kind of hiking boots i wanted to see. I was hoping to see LaSportiva boots (Glacier, Storm or Latok models). Also i wanted to find a killer deal on gore-tex jackets (something i never could justify as "needing", but they are just so cool). I think that Mountain Hardwear makes the coolest jackets. The only jewel i found, was not the kind money could buy. She will remain a mystery, for i have tried and failed. "It takes only a minute to get a crush on someone, an hour to like someone... but it takes a lifetime to forget someone." ohhhhhh wait, this is supposed to be a cat story.

    I was the last person up the mountain... which does happen on occasion. It was one of the "city mountains" -- one of the treasures of Phoenix. A mountain you hike for almost an hour in the city (though Phoenix has a more "suburban" feel). It's probably within half an hour of where you live, there is a trail to follow, and you probably don't need a flashlight because the lights of the city or moonlight are enough. There is Camelback Mountain and Squaw Peak -- the 2 most famous hiking spots. You'll always find people there. There are other trails and little peaks to hike.. in daylight or not.

    Ringtail Tonight I saw the usual crowd returning from the mountain: the single guys with their noses high, a friendly older dude with a dog, barbie girl with 3 guys, a couple that didn't seem to know each other for that long, and a single girl here and there (some of whom i should have started a conversation with). The sun was still up but falling quickly, and it turned totally dark before i reached the summit. The moon was up, straight up in the sky. While eating in a dry new T-shirt, and thinking "man, this is dry and warm", i saw a silhouette run within 20ft from me. My first thought was that it's a ringtail, but the tail was wrong for a ringtail. It looked like a cat's body. After pulling out my headlight, I could see her clearly. It was a shy little cat. Stray cat, short haired tubby, around 6months old. Maybe it was a coyote scar she had, maybe it was just an illusion.

    Mountain Cat Mountain Cat Mountain Cat

    She liked the bagel, which i rolled for her into balls of half M&M size. She totally ignored the water which i poured for her. Wow, a cat up here. 1200ft above the city, at least a mile from civilization. With the ease she moved, she could chase a ringtail anytime along the rocks. I pulled out my camera, and 20 pictures went by in about 10minutes. If you ever tried taking pictures of a moving animal in total darkness, you'll find out a few things. The auto-focusing doesn't work that well, and you can't really focus yourself. I used a flashlight in one hand while taking pictures with the other hand. Before reaching for new film, i realized -- I don't have any. The nightmare of photographers -- running out of film in the middle of action. Today was my first day with a new backpack, and i did transfer my gear from the old backpack very quickly.


    It's one thing taking pictures, and another capturing the mood, the character, the situation. Taking memorable pictures takes patience, practice, vision and luck. Without food, the cat would have stayed 50ft away. You can't move closer, she has to come to you. By having food, you're the best friend ... until the food runs outs. This kitty looked around 6months old. If people don't handle a cat within her first 6 weeks, no-one will ever be able to touch her. That seemed to be the case here -- she was a wild cat.
    #Pursue Passion#
    .First Posted: March 10, 2003.

     
    Notes:
    • The last jewel i found was on Aug 13, 2001.
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