Night Hike

I used to hike at night in the winter in California. Not (normally) LATE at night but after dark. It was a wondrous world of sounds and the smell of black sage in the Southern California Chaparral. Most of those hikes were with my wolf-dog, Ariel, and with Molly or Lupo. Molly, Lupo and Ariel were pretty large dogs, so I had companionship, a warning system and protection.

The night sky above a big city does not reveal a lot of stars, but there I could see stars unless there was heavy ocean fog. The river valley that made the canyon went straight to the Pacific, so little cat feet of fog often made their way up the valley.

Many animals are more active at night, including mountain lions. It strikes me odd today that I never thought of that when I was wandering up a finger canyon with my dogs. I relied on my dogs a lot on those hikes, their noses, their senses, their instincts.

One of the sweetest of the shadowy experiences was toward the end of a canyon beside some oak trees (coastal live oak) where a pair of Western Screech Owls would often just make a racket. I thought they might have been talking to each other. Whatever they were doing, that was THEIR tree. One night, they were completely silent. I sensed they were there, that their silence was strategic, and that there was a predator near. I was a little bewildered because my dogs didn’t react at all, so if there WAS a predator, it wasn’t upsetting Molly and Ariel.


I developed a theory. My dogs had been around coyotes so much by that point that I think, on some level, they just regarded them as “the dogs we meet up with when we go for a hike with Martha.” I thought there might have been a coyote under that tree. To test my theory, I yipped.

He answered. We chatted. Molly and Ariel lay down, and waited patiently as we conducted our conversation, but after a while they got restless. They were hungry, and it was dinner time. I said my good-byes to the coyote, admonishing him to leave the owls alone and headed home.

20 thoughts on “Night Hike

  1. I’ve never been brave enough to yip at the coyotes. I was camping at Grasslands National Park on the night of the new moon, and the coyotes were all around. Love hearing them.

    • I love hearing them, too. Since I hiked up there almost every day for decades, I think they thought I was supposed to be there. 🙂 I know Molly took off with them a couple of times and came back, thank goodness.

  2. I love the serenade of the coyotes. There’s a dry wash a coupe blocks behind my house where they like to congregate. Probably the reason I will never get a small dog or have an outdoor cat. They like those for meals.

  3. Wonderful Martha 😀 I “talk” to the birds and animals and sometimes we have lovely chats. Thanks for joining in

  4. I can just see you having a little twilight serenade with the coyotes! You have the most interesting adventures of almost anyone I know!

  5. What a lovely story. An intuitive experience almost. I have spoken to random rabbits and squirrels when on my walks. Sometimes they sit and look at me rather than run away. Not sure what’s going on there, but it’s kind of cool. A coyote, though, that’s a whole other lever – good for you 🙂

    • No, Coyote-hua. But I don’t know what I was saying and for all I know the coyote was saying, “what? I don’t understand anything you’re saying you weird human!”

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