After getting home from work today, I opted to head up to a spot I haven't hiked since last fall. It's a location I found east of Little Dell Reservoir and below Big Mountain Pass. It is a seemingly seldom used trail that winds up the mountain north of the main road and then heads east towards Big Mountain and back down past some beaver dams. From here, you can bush-whack your way through 100 yards or so of trees and reach a more used trail. The whole route can't be more than a mile - if that - and has in the past produced Dusky Grouse and an assortment of other common mountain species to view - as well as Deer, Moose, and Beavers. Today, as I was hiking along towards a portion that transitions from open mountainside to aspen grove I heard what sounded like a bark. It sounded sort of like a muzzled dog. I kept hiking. The sound came again, and closer. I was initially intrigued. The sound was coming from above me on the mountain though and all I could see up there was thick habitat. I kept telling myself I was sure it was a dog and there was probably someone with it and whatever, no big deal. I figured, whatever, move on and keep hiking. So I wound through the aspens and towards the beaver dams. The sound came again. This time much closer. Now I was annoyed/perhaps a little intimidated. Sounded still like a dog but like one that was muzzled/muffled in some way. Not like a normal bark. I started moving quicker. The sound followed. I jumped over a stream to get to the other side of the beaver dams. Surely whatever it was wouldn't follow me. Well, it did. The sound was now just on the other side of the dams, coming from the trees. I will admit, at this point, I made sure my bear spray, which I had taken out, was in my hand, with the cap off and ready to go. Then, I high-tailed it to the bush-whacking portion and my scraped up legs are evidence to the lack of care I took here. I don't know what the hell was going on, what it was, why it was following me, but it seemed best to get out of Dodge. I think it probably was a dog. My memory tells me I have seen evidence of an old shanty hut up on the mountainside in this area so it could very well be that someone dwells there with a muffled sounding canine. However, I'm not sure this is any more comfort to know than if it was an angry bear. Either way, the mountains kicked my ass tonight and I was reminded that you never know what's around that next corner. But I suppose that's why I keep going back for more.