Today was the day to scatter some of Molly's ashes at the spot where she was so lucky two years ago. Here is the (true) story:
It was late October and I wanted one last high country hike before the snows came. I walked through the red-orange srub oak with Molly and thought about where we would stop for breakfast. I would sit on the boulders at the highest point of the Vallecito trail on the cliff's edge overlooking the creek far below. Molly raced ahead, as always, and disappeared around a leafy turn in the trail. When I found her a moment later I froze. She was sitting in the leaves just off the trail, smiling and wagging her tail. Sitting directly in front of her was a mountain lion not smiling or wagging his tail. His tail was twitching back and forth like a tabby cat about to pounce on a little mouse. Their noses were touching. "Molly! Come! It's NOT a kitty!" She did and I was able to get her on a leash. I stood up straight and looked at the lion. He contemplated us speculatively, then, cat-like, stretched his hind legs slowly and deliberately one at a time, before suddenly shooting down the trail and out of sight like a firecracker. It was quite wonderful. Months later I asked a famous tracker "Why didn't the lion eat my dog; why didn't he attack me?" The famous tracker scratched his jaw and after a moment, said "Well, he just warn't hungry is all."
This day there was a small vernal pool there at the spot of the lucky encounter and I watched as her ashes floated briefly on the surface before sinking grayishly to the bottom. That's when I noticed the track at the edge of the pool next to my boot. A mountain lion track.