Today I glimpsed a red fox on Birchbank Trail as it fled up and off the trail. When I reached the point where he had left the trail, I stopped for a few minutes and looked carefully at the hillside above me. Red fox are bright and curious, and I was convinced this one was watching me from ... somewhere. Couldn't find him. I walked up the trail a few more steps and looked again and there he was, about 150 ft up the hill, sitting there panting in a sunbeam like a golden retriever. The two of us watched each other for about five minutes (I MUST get myself a 35mm camera!). By the way, we call these moments "trail magic."
The alert hiker knows that he or she is being watched. As we walk down the trail, the deer, bobcat, coyote, and fox quietly monitor our passage, sometimes within pouncing distance. Last summer near Silent Waters I passed a deer frozen like a statue just 15 feet from the trail. Only her head moved slowly as I passed. There was hardly even any brush, and this was right across the street from the busy Middle School. The animals must sense how unobservant we humans usually are.