The Low Saddle

From my vantage point over the cold, clear waters of the Sea of Japan at Lazovskii Reserve in Primorye, I spotted migrating minke whales and a roiling cluster of harbor seals. The sandy beach below bore tracks of sika deer, Eurasian otter, and Amur tiger. A tigress had sauntered among the boulders there only a day or so before me, pausing to scent-mark the rock with her pungent, earthy urine. She continued down the beach to ascend the low saddle where I now stood, and I lost her trail as she moved into the vegetation. She likely climbed up the ridge–possibly in search of sika deer–or perhaps looking for a quiet place to soak in the sun on one of these last, perfect, late summer days.

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