He came down from the mountains as autumn aged, before the paths could pile with snow and the bridges bowed with ice. After eighty-nine days he had still not found a trace of his goal. Every morning he had trekked the, by now familiar, circuit looking for any signs that his quarry had passed by, always with the same negative result. It had been the same for the past three years. his hunting skills had been slowly diminishing. He knew that he would not spend another season on these mountains. He had made friends with bears, the wild mountain goats, the eagles that swooped high over the mountain. He called them friends without receiving anything in return but the pleasure of fleeting sightings as armed only with camera and binoculars he had watched the parent beasts and their offspring, in their battles for life in this harsh territory. There were good and bad times but they had all given him the pleasure he craved. He had but one regret. With two more cameras to check, once again he was beginning to feel disheartened. He saw the red light blinking as he approached, at least it had caught something. Could this be the one he was looking for. He crouched down on the damp soil and removing his knapsack reached in to pull out his laptop. Releasing his fingers from the thick mittens he plugged a lead into the top of the box and crossing his fingers, once more waited for the picture to appear. The screen looked snowy at first. Interference providing it’s own blizzard conditions but as it started to clear he felt the usual tense stirrings of excitement. In the top corner were two dots of light, pinpointed in the infra-red beam. Could this be the one? Eyes, and they were coming closer. It was unmistakable, a round off-white, cat-like face, black whiskers trembling. His first snow-leopard. Proof that they were still in the area. He started to cry. Nothing else would or could ever compare to this moment.