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Surely there’s never been a January this mild. Yesterday we took a nice walk up Beartrap that would be best described as April. It hadn’t froze for two nights previous (and now the weather says it won’t freeze for two nights to come) so the puddles were ice free and the ever present wind was warm. I’m trying to enjoy it, of course, because I want to enjoy my life. But any relaxing or enjoyment must fight out my sense that things have gone wrong and the world that I love is unraveling.

Days like yesterday, most of the wildlife don’t seem to mind. For most of them, a hard winter is still a greater threat than summer drought. We stopped for lunch upstream from a deadly rapid called The Kitchen Sink and speculated on the presence of bighorns in the canyon. We both agreed that they must be out there, somewhere. I had been watching a couple white spots high on the other side, and just then I could tell that one of them moved. I reached for the binoculars. It turned out to be six bighorns– one big ram, one small ram, and four ewes.

When we got up to walk again we passed an elk calf that had died recently. Whatever had been feeding on it had partially covered the carcass with grass and dirt. The only tracks in the snow nearby looked like coyote. Almost back to the car, where we started passing tons of people, there was an enormous beaver sitting on a rock. I never see them out of the water. “Isn’t that a big one,” I said, to a young guy that stopped next to me. “It’s about average,” he replied.