I hiked Square Top as part of a clockwise loop around Square Top lakes. Upon arriving at the eastern end of the nameless ridge, north of the lakes, I opted to descend via a steep chute (see marker A in the linked map) and intersect with the trail. I arrived at a point where there is, what appears to be, a dry pond bed (see marker B).
The descent route was steep and I felt exhilarated when I exited at the dry pond. I stood there for a few minutes, taking photos of my descent route when I was startled by a snarling sound. I looked in the direction of the noise and saw a fair-sized, furry animal, moving quickly down the rocks (see marker C). The distance between the animal and myself was less than 400 feet. I saw it for only a few seconds but I immediately knew I was looking at something I've never seen back east. Here's what I noticed:
- It moved effortlessly down the rocks, like water flowing downhill, and demonstrated spinal flexibility (and a rear-end hump) commonly seen in weasels (mustelidae). However, this animal was large enough to be easily seen from a few hundred feet away. It appeared to be as large as a medium-sized dog.
It had a tail that was about as long as its torso. The tail was furry and the same color as the rest of the animal. The fur color was medium brown but seemed to be mottled with a lighter brown color. I did not see it long enough to notice any markings. I did not notice any truly contrasting stripes, colors, or spots.
After it bounded down a few rocks it disappeared. I raised my camera but the opportunity had passed. I waited a few minutes but it never reappeared nor made additional sounds.
And if it was a badger ... well that's pretty cool as well. Thanks for the souvenir, Colorado!
Marker A: the start of my descent route.
Marker B: the end of my descent route (intersected the trail).
Marker C: my estimate of the animal's location.
http://mapper.acme.com/?ll=39.59163,-10 ... stadt%20CO