Mountain lions

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oldranger
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Re: Mountain lions

Post by oldranger » Sun Jan 13, 2019 8:32 pm

I have had several "kinda" encounters. #1. In late 60s was hiking with my 1st wife (not Kathy) at 10 lakes in Yosemite when she was in front and suddenly said, "there's a mountain lion!" "Are you sure?" " Well it had a long tail." Later we met someone who confirmed that they had seen a mountain lion in the area. In the late 80s while Roaring River Ranger I had confirmation that a cougar kill had been found near the confluence of sugarloaf and ferguson creeks. A few week later I was fishing with my kids, aged 4 and 8 downstream from the ranger station. Of course they got tired and I got them across the river and headed up the trail to the station then continued to fish. After just a few minutes I reconsidered and headed up the trail behind them only to find lion tracks on top of theirs! well I sprinted up the trail and was relieved to find them safe at the station. Also near that time a front country ranger was followed by a mountain lion for quite aways over Elizabeth Pass when fog was moving in and out of the area. In 82 and 83 I saw lion tracks in the snow several times at the top of the ridge that separates roaring river drainage from the Tablelands. My only view of a mountain lion in the wild was from the safety of a bus. We were heading down the old mining road from Holden Village to Lake Chelan after Christmas. Suddenly a large grey animal jumped in front of the bus and bounded down the road at first I thought it was a wolf before I realized it was a mountain lion. It was soon joined by two large cubs and the trio ran down the road for a couple of hundred yards before jumping down the embankment. Another Holden story that I was not a party to involved a young woman who was hiking up the road as was followed by a mountain lion. At the time the village left a bus part way up to the village. She was able enter the bus, close the door and use the two-way radio to summon help. when the rescuers arrived the lion was laying under the bus but was soon scared away.

Am I afraid of lions? Yep! Bblack bears don't bother me but lions? On the other hand you might better describe me as resigned. I have never heard of a person who was aware of the presence of a lion being attacked. My resignation is that if attacked I will not be prepared for it. To my knowledge and experience blackbears don't stalk humans. Encounters with bears are either accidental or the bears are searching for food. In either case, again in my experience, the bears will, in case the of accidental encounters amble off if given enough space when they recognize my presence or if I am too close will haul ass in the opposite direction. In such cases I usually do nothing. Sometimes give them a friendly greeting. If on the other hand I am camped and they enter "my space" I get quite belligerent and yell at them like I'm pissed at my kids, then chase and throw rocks at them, not just past the perimeter of my campsite but for at least 200 yards. I have had several such encounters even where bears are accustomed to looting campsites they never come back. I think because they knew there were easier pickings in the area. Unfortunately (said tongueincheekly) with requirements for food containers I don't get to see bears as much as in the old days and now it is a privilege to see one in the backcountry. Certainly I would be excited to see a mountain lion as well but it is the one I don't see that scares the pee out of me.


Mike

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balzaccom
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Re: Mountain lions

Post by balzaccom » Sun Jan 13, 2019 11:34 pm

Mike--the best set of puma tracks I have ever seen was in Sugarloaf Valley...nice a big, right on the trail
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Re: Mountain lions

Post by Lumbergh21 » Mon Jan 14, 2019 1:34 am

balzaccom wrote:
Sun Jan 13, 2019 11:34 pm
Mike--the best set of puma tracks I have ever seen was in Sugarloaf Valley...nice a big, right on the trail
No way! I thought that I was seeing tracks there in August 2016, but the trail was so dry and dusty, I convinced my self they were just big dog tracks. I was sure that I couldn't see any claw impressions because it was so dry and dusty and that somebody had brought a large dog camping with them.

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Re: Mountain lions

Post by balance » Mon Jan 14, 2019 11:20 am

I saw a mountain lion hiking out of Mineral King. I went off trail on the Big Five Lakes loop. I'd just set up my tent late in the day at the foot of a cliff. I looked out and saw a big animal (first thought it was a bear). It was about 50-60 yards away. It slowly walked up onto a little sloping pile of rocks and sat down watching me. Then I noticed it was thinner than a bear. Mountain lion!

It didn't make any noise or move around, just sat there. We both watched each other for about twelve minutes. As the sun was beginning to set I got my flashlight and turned it on. When I did that the mountain lion stood up, rapidly bobbed its head up and down, then turned and very slowly walked away.

I was sorry for turning on the flashlight, because it was fun sitting there watching that big cat. I didn't feel any sense of concern or threat. It was just a nice encounter, the only time I saw a mountain lion in the wild.

I'm sure they've seen me dozens of times and I didn't know it.

Peace.

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Re: Mountain lions

Post by phoenix2000 » Mon Jan 14, 2019 11:59 am

I have a little too much to say about the subject to fit into one post so I’ll break it down into 2 posts.

Back in the 90’s and 2000’s when I backpacked in groups with friends and family none of us gave any thought to mountain lions. When I started going on solo trips in 2010 I was worried about mountain lions so I did some research on the internet beforehand and found lots of advice but not that much in the way of descriptions of attacks. The more solo trips I’ve taken the less concerned I am with them even after my encounter. My first solo trip I checked my six a lot to make sure that I wasn’t being stalked. On subsequent solo trips I check my six a lot less because I’ve never seen anything behind me.

In my research I had read about someone who had a photo of their group on the trail hanging in their living room. One day a guest came over and asked how they got the mountain lion to pose for the picture. The person replied “what mountain lion”. The guest pointed to the mountain lion crouched on the ledge above the group in the picture. So, on my first solo trip I also made sure to look up anytime I was near a spot where a mountain lion could be above me on a ledge or a large boulder since they are ambush predators. Again, on subsequent trips I have been less inclined to check.

I don’t listen to music while hiking or in camp. The only exception is if I am in my hammock reading, before I fall asleep or stuck in my hammock due to rain. I want to be able to possibly hear a large animal in the area before it gets close to me.

Mountain lions like to kill by biting victims in the back of the neck. After reading this article https://www.mercurynews.com/2007/01/25/ ... tain-lion/ I decided that I needed to get a new knife, one that I could clip to the inside my pocket and one that I could open with one hand. That way if I end up with a mountain lion with its jaws clamped around the back of my neck, I can get my knife out, opened and start stabbing the lion.

The sites that have advice for how to deal with mountain lions all seem to agree on the basics. Some like http://www.backcountryattitude.com/moun ... afety.html have ones that I have never seen before like “Dogs can attract or invite cougar attacks. Leave them at home.” and “Leave the area immediately if you come across cougar kittens. Like bears, mountain lions will defend their young.”

Youtube has a number of videos of mountain lion encounters like https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xNJxDWX-qes .

So I think that you shouldn’t necessarily be paranoid about mountain lions but do the research and be aware of what to do and not to do in case you do have an encounter.

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Re: Mountain lions

Post by phoenix2000 » Mon Jan 14, 2019 12:04 pm

After saying all that I have never seen a mountain lion but I am 99% sure that I have survived being “attacked” by one.

It was August 6th, 2016. I woke up at 2am packed my car up, drove from Phoenix, Arizona to the Shingle Springs trailhead then hiked in 4 miles to Kibbie Lake. By the time I got to the lake it was getting dark, so I didn’t take long searching for a camping spot. I was exhausted from the long day of driving, but I wasn’t feeling sleepy yet. To avoid laying in my hammock for hours before falling asleep I took 2 Tylenol PM before setting up camp. Once I had my campsite ready for the night I crawled into my hammock and fell asleep.

Sometime later in the night I was awoken by a “swish” sound that had come from the foot of my hammock. My mind quickly matched it to the sound that my hand would make if I swiped it across the sil-nylon fabric of my hammock. Groggy and a little confused I wasn’t sure if the sound had been real or not. I was sure that it wasn’t a dream because there was only the sound and my dreams have always been vivid with both audible and visual components. I was pretty sure that I hadn’t caused the sound either because even though I am a light sleeper my mind is good about ignoring sounds that I make when I toss and turn in my sleep. That left 2 possibilities, I had imagined the sound, or something was outside my hammock and caused the sound. The thought of something right outside my hammock got my heart pounding a little faster and my adrenaline to start pumping.

My hammock is a Clark NX-270 which is like a 1-person tent that you hang between 2 trees. In order to look at the area around the foot of my hammock I would have to unzip the bug netting then lean out and shine my headlamp on the area. I didn’t feel like doing this yet so instead I laid as still as possible and began to breathe through my mouth to try to cutdown on the noise I made. The night was utterly still so I did not hear a single sound. I began to try to think what may have caused the noise. I remembered that the 2 trees that I had tied my hammock to were pretty close together and since I was using tree straps as well it meant that the knots in the rope were right up against the endpoints of the fabric of my hammock. I also remembered that before I had gotten into my hammock, I had noticed that the extra rope hanging down from the knots almost reached the ground. I had briefly thought about coiling them up out of the way but dismissed the idea because I didn’t think there was any danger in just leaving them hanging. So, I thought that maybe a breeze had pushed the hanging rope and made it swipe across the fabric of my hammock. In order to verify this, I had to use my elbows to help raise my upper torso until my head got to the point where I could look out thru the bug netting. I could see that it was dark out and the sky only had a few stars visible thru the haze from the smoke high in the atmosphere from some fire along the coast. The branches of the trees and bushes were not moving at all. The only movement of air I could feel was the cold air outside slowly oozing thru the bug net to replace the warmer air in my hammock.

With the theory of a breeze causing the sound ruled out I laid back down and tried to think what else could have caused the noise. I was ready to ignore it and go back to sleep when the “swish” sound came from the foot of my hammock again. This time I was absolutely sure there was something outside my hammock that had caused the sound. My heart started beating faster and my adrenaline started pumping again but I was frozen and unsure what to do. The third “swish” I not only heard but I saw and felt. Something pushed in hard on the fabric of my hammock to the left of my feet. It then swiped across the fabric, swiped across my left foot, swiped across my right foot and then pulled off. It had felt soft like the pads of a cat or a dog but had a lot of force behind it. As for dimensions It had felt like it was as high as the arch of my foot and it was a little wider than one of my feet because it was still making contact with the left edge of my left foot when it started to make contact with my right foot. Now I was in full on panic mode because padded feet meant there was a predator outside my tent. I remembered that bears could not retract their claws and since I had not felt anything above the padded area it must mean that the creature outside was a mountain lion. I briefly thought about yelling but dismissed the idea. If the mountain lion was playing with the rope of my hammock and didn’t know there was a meal inside, then I didn’t want to let it know. Also, from bear encounters in the 90’s and early 2000’s I knew that yelling might just startle the mountain lion for a few seconds before it turned around and came back, just like the bears had. So, I came quickly came up with the idea of slamming heels down on the bottom of my hammock in order to shake it and hopefully scare the mountain lion away. I raised my left foot then brought the heel down hard on to the bottom of my hammock, raised my right foot and brought it down, then repeated. It made my whole hammock shake and caused it to make a loud flapping sound.

It must have scarred the “mountain lion” because there was a loud commotion from the ground under the foot of my hammock followed by the sound of small pine cones, pine needles and twigs spraying into the bushes to the right of my hammock. It was followed a second later by a large crashing noise in the bushes on the other side of the tree that my hammock was tied to. At the same time there came a little “eeep” sound off to the right of my feet and then the sound of something moving thru the bushes. In the past I have had experiences where I found that small rodents like chipmunks or ground squirrels can cause sounds that you could swear are large bears moving thru your campsites. So, I thought that this must have been a chipmunk but I was confused as to why it would be next to a “mountain lion”. The sound of the “mountain lion” landing even further away in the bushes made me forget about the smaller animal. After a third and final large crash into the bushes I didn’t hear anything from the “mountain lion” again. The smaller animal however was still moving thru the bushes but was making less noise now. It seemed to me arcing to the right thru the bushes before it too stopped making noises.

I laid as still as possible in my hammock for a few minutes before the need to check to see if the “mountain lion” was truly gone overwhelmed me. I unzipped my bug netting and shone my headlamp all over to see if I could see any eyeshine from the “mountain lion” but luckily, I didn’t see anything. I did see the excess rope swinging back and forth and was tempted to get out and coil it up but with a “mountain lion” in the area I thought that it was best to not get out of my hammock. My mouth was dry from breathing thru it so much, so I reached down and grabbed my canteen from the ground under my hammock. After getting a drink I unzipped one of the large insulation pouches that run under my hammock and put it in there. At this point I had to decide what to do next. Some people would run back the 4 miles to their cars, but I knew that was the wrong thing to do. It was night time, if it was a mountain lion that had “attacked” me then it would be able to see, hear and smell me and running or walking fast would just trigger a prey response and it would attack me for sure. So, the only choice I could see was going back to sleep and if it came back then I would deal with it then.

Even though the Tylenol PM was still making me drowsy I could not fall asleep right away because there was still too much adrenaline in my system. So, I ended up going over the encounter to figure out if it was for sure a mountain lion. Whatever it was it was definitely large. That meant mountain lion, bear, human, deer or maybe bobcat. I ruled human out first. A person would have to be very sick in the mind to play a joke like that on a stranger. Plus a human would have used a flashlight, wouldn’t have been scared by me slamming my heels into the bottom of my tent and would have run away to the left of my tent where there was a large circular dirt area that led to granite instead of doing the triple jump thru 15 feet of bushes. I ruled out a deer because even though a deer would have bounded thru the bushes the only soft part it has to make contact with my feet would have been it’s nose which would have been too small to be what I felt. I ruled out a bear because I didn’t feel any claws above the soft “pads” and a bear would have just ran right thru the bushes instead of gone bounding thru them. I had always heard that bobcats had large paws to help them move across snow so at the time I wasn’t 100% sure it wasn’t a bobcat but I felt like what I felt and heard indicated something larger. It wasn’t until after I got home and saw some television shows that I saw how big a bobcat paw is and now I am sure that it was not a bobcat. So that left only one thing, a mountain lion. I hoped that it was just playing with the excess rope that was hanging down and wasn’t trying to figure out how to get to the meal (me) inside the hammock. With that worked out I was finally able to get to sleep.

The next morning, I awoke excited to get proof that it had been a mountain lion that I had encountered the during the night. I carefully got out of my hammock, grabbed my camera from my pack and went over to the foot of my hammock. I was thoroughly disappointed to see that the ground cover of pine needles, twigs, pine cones and leaves from the bushes were too thick to show any kind of footprints. Since I had walked all over the space while setting up my hammock I couldn’t even tell if the disturbance in the ground cover was caused by me or the “mountain lion”. I scouted the path thru the bushes because it was in line with where the “mountain lion” bounded thru the bushes but it too had to much ground cover to leave any trace of a foot print. The area beyond the bushes was all granite so I didn’t see any footprints there, nor did I see any in the circular dirt are in my camp.

It was decision time again. I didn’t want to have driven all this way just to spend 1 night in the wilderness. I wanted to enjoy a whole week out here exploring. I also figured that the chances of encountering a mountain lion like this were as good as the chances of me winning the lottery. So I resolved to always coil up my excess rope from now on, packed up my things and set off for Many Island Lake.

I didn’t figure out what kind of creature made the “eeep” sound until months later when I watched a trailcam video in Yosemite that captured a mother mountain lion and 2 cubs at night. My best guess is that the creature was a mountain lion cub. It had been startled from me shaking the hammock and its mother panicking and leaving. The change in sound and direction must have been the cub reaching the path thru the brush and following it to the granite.

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rsm333
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Re: Mountain lions

Post by rsm333 » Mon Jan 14, 2019 12:08 pm

In more than 50 years of crawling around in the Sierra, I have only seen one....Above Leaviitt Meadows, near Secret Lake.

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Npike
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Re: Mountain lions

Post by Npike » Mon Jan 14, 2019 1:31 pm

Wow, some very interesting stories! Very good info also, makes me almost look forward to an encounter. Although I say that now, I am always hiking and camping solo, so I may change my tune once that encounter does happen!

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Re: Mountain lions

Post by fishwrong » Mon Jan 14, 2019 3:22 pm

Have only ever seen two, both from the road, and neither for more than a couple seconds as they went out of sight. Only time I think about them is when I have the kids out with me, and I try to be more aware when I'm in the foothill canyons than the high county. I did hear one scream when I was a kid in the Feather River canyon, and that was a sound I won't forget. Learning more later, I expect it was a mating thing, but I felt the hair stand on the back of my neck, and I'm not sure I actually had any back then.

My view on them is like most things. Don't be an idiot, and the odds are in your favor. If it happens, my time was up anyway. Life wouldn't be any fun if I worried about all the "Could happens" and I'd never drive again if I thought of all of the "Probably will happens", so carry-on carrying-on.

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Re: Mountain lions

Post by tarbuckle » Tue Jan 15, 2019 8:07 am

I saw mine in the Marbles, It was the early 2000's. We were in our tent and the dog started growling.I grabbed my flashlight, unzipped the tent and started scanning the forest. Boom, there he was. Big ole triangle head, long slender body and a big ole long tail. I hollered at him and he slowly slinked away into the forest. The next night a bear came into camp. Hollered at him and he ran like hell.

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