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The Stalker, Part 2

The ranch barn cat, June Bug ó formerly named “The Stalker” for clear covert actions and suspected evil intentions (details known only to her) — has now been renamed by me. “The Hiker” follows me all around on my short treks on trails surrounding the mountain property where I provide winter caretaker duties.Wherever I go, whether walking the grounds or hiking the foothills, I have a feline shadow.My good friend at home, Lance The Wonder Dog, loves to hike with me. Even at 12 years old, he still has a spring in his Cockapoo step, and thoroughly enjoys getting outdoors, into the backwoods, with the wild smells and the thrill of discovery. I guess most dogs do. But who knew a cat would like that too? I’m not a cat person, but I fear a growing affection for this one – a fellow hiker, a kindred spirit, enjoying the high country.Not only does June Bug tail me every step along the way on my hikes, she often chooses to follow the exact same route I’ve led with. If on a trail I cross a glistening frozen creek, stepping carefully on snow-covered rocks or a fallen log, she follows the same course I chose. If I’m pushing through 6 inches of fresh powder, my new hiking buddy steps in my tracks, rather than making her own. She does lead sometimes, but keeps looking back to see if I’m staying close and would have picked the same direction through the forest. The bit of bouldering I may do proves no problem for my diminutive four-legged furry friend.Now, I’m not saying that this cat ó if she could, given research about her kindó would still not like to kill and eat me. Maybe she’s put that agenda item on the back burner. Maybe she’s reconsidered, given our relative size difference. Perhaps June Bug has simply decided she has grown to enjoy my company as well. In any case, I’ve taken her off my personal terrorist list. I will give her the benefit of a doubt that she simply enjoys hiking as much as I do.

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