Who has been stalked by a cougar?


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Ricardo Cabeza

All Over.
Topic Author's Original Post - Mar 7, 2010 - 04:30pm PT
Just now reading the 'Why Aren't You' thread had me thinking about the time I was stalked by a cougar.

Now, don't get me wrong, I've spent many a night at Bar of America, Moodys and Cottonwoods in Truckee being stalked by cougars, but this one stands out.

I was at home, not working for a couple of days. The GF was out of town on a business trip and I was super bored.

I was living in Meyers, and the thought of going up to Truckee to see all of my friends just didn't sound like fun.

It's January, so climbing was out.
I pulled out my hot springs guide and picked one of the closest.

I can't remember the name, It's not Markleeville (though they do have a cougar problem there), but the one south of Gardnerville on the Carson river. The one off of Leviathian Mine Rd.

On the way down, it starts to snow. No big deal, the weather is calling for an inch or two.

I drive as far as I can, shoulder the pack, put a collar on the dog, and start hiking.

A couple of miles in, I hit a gate. No Trespassing, Private Ranch, it says.

I look around, nobody out here but me and the coyotes this time of year, so I throw my dog over the fence, clamber over and keep going.

By this time I'm following the benchland by the river and am getting optimistic about finding the springs, as it's getting dark and I never fail, ever.

I pass old corrals and barns, some with highways of coyote tracks leading into and out of them, some serene and buried in drifts on the lee side.

I keep walking. And walking.

Eventually it gets dark and I have to admit defeat for the first time ever. I'm so bummed, it's dumping snow and I can almost taste the sulfur coming from those damn springs.

I make camp, start a raging fire to keep warm and eat dinner, feeling kind of bummed that I didn't make it.

Sometime during the night, the dog (in my tent) starts growling at something.
I shrug it off as a nosy coyote, tell the dog to shut up, and go back to sleep.

Crack of dawn, the next day.
I get up, put on my shoes and go out to relieve myself.
Still clearing the cobwebs from my head, I notice tracks all the way around my tent.

Whatever, probably just that damn coyote.
I crawl back in, eat a powerbar, and break camp.

Holy crap! Those are big prints next to the tent!
Full on big cat tracks, the size of a fully spread out hand!

I put on my pack and start back to the car, finding a big stick to carry and unzipping my jacket (I heard holding an unzipped jacket open makes you look bigger, helping scare away cats).

For two miles along the river, we had the river on the left and a low dirt bluff on the right.
The entire time my dog had his hackles up and growled.

I never saw the kitty, but it was there. The tracks leading to my tent led back for almost a mile (I retraced my steps), so I know I was being followed.

Scared the crap outta' me!

Any other good close calls?
Hardman Knott

Gym climber
Muir Woods National Monument, Mill Valley, Ca
Mar 7, 2010 - 04:45pm PT

Gym climber
A dingy corner in your refrigerator
Mar 7, 2010 - 05:25pm PT
No. Not that I know of.....however we had a couple cougar incidents in Flagstaff where I think two cougars were put down as a result.The game and fish held some information presentations to answer questions as to why these cougars were put down. The long of the short was they implied that if you are a reasonably active person, chances are you have had a cougar eye you up. O.K. ummm how about hiking in the dark 30 minutes to my elk stand at 4:00am day after day? They showed videos of a cougar sitting near a trail watching tons of folks walk feet away from it......Cougar no, Grizzly Bear Yes!. That was a bit unnerving as I actually never saw thwe bear. The fresh dumping snow just showed me the circling tracks of my predator. Cool stuff......

Trad climber
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Mar 7, 2010 - 05:28pm PT
Many mountain lion encounters here, including Beatrix Kiddo's last month while skiing:

Ricardo Cabeza

All Over.
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 7, 2010 - 05:31pm PT
Thanks Stich, saw that one but forgot about it.

I'm also thinking stalking more than sightings.
On my way to read that thread now...

Mountain climber
Monrovia, CA
Mar 7, 2010 - 05:31pm PT
Probably more than once but they didn't leave a note.
One did leave his tracks in the snow 20' from the tent so
he clearly followed us up in the morning.

A good friend of mine was hiking alone 35 years ago in
Olympic Nat Park. He hadn't seen anyone in days but
suddenly had that feeling that he wasn't alone any more.
He turned around and there was one 25' behind him staring at
him intently but not moving. He started shuffling sideways
down the trail while keeping his eyes on the kitty. Every
time he stopped to negotiate some roots or rocks in the trail
the cat would stop always maintaining about 25'. This went on
for about a half mile. Then Stewart had to take his eyes off
the cat for a couple of seconds and while he did it disappeared!
That was a loooong half a mile to walk!

Trad climber
Mar 7, 2010 - 05:32pm PT
i have, described below from another post


years ago, i was in zion with 5 friends doing the 'subway' canyoneering route. After a sprained ankle injury, the group (6 of us) were bushwacking up a hillside in the dark. We were trailed by a mtn lion for approx 45 minutes. Super unnerving--we were a big group, made a lot of noise but you could see the sillouette of the body and his eyes in the dark. While it was such a priviledge to see the mountain lion, it was also kind of terrifying to be stalked, feeling like you were prey!

Trad climber
Mar 7, 2010 - 05:40pm PT
Not stalked(by the 4-legged or 2-legged, a 2-legged one would have to be at least 80 to qualify), but had an encounter. I was descending a mountain road on my bike and had a blowout. While changing the tire, I noticed an animal casually striding across the road about 30 yds up. Thinking it was a dog, I hardly paid it much attention at first and went back to fixing the tire. Without looking back, I said to myself, whoa, that had no snout like a dog and had a long rope-like tail. I headed up the road towards it and it bounded off into the woods. When I got to the spot where it crossed the road I noticed that it would have to have come off a 10 ft high rock ledge to cross the road there, not something that other animals would have done.

This may not sound like much of a deal to anyone from cougar country, but this happened in Western Massachusetts where there aren't supposed to be any cougars (4-legged ones).

Gym climber
A dingy corner in your refrigerator
Mar 7, 2010 - 05:42pm PT
I always wanted to see one with my old dog. He liked the game 'where's the kitty'. I just wanted to see his reaction to 'where's the kitty?' while staring the coug down.

Trad climber
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Mar 7, 2010 - 05:44pm PT
Beatrix and her friend Lee were clearly stalked, and then the cougar made a tentative attack but broke off when they got aggressive towards it. The cougar went away, circled around, and made another run at them and again they had to yell and wave their skis at it. Pretty spooky.
Ricardo Cabeza

All Over.
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 7, 2010 - 05:51pm PT
Stich, just read it. Crazy!


Hangin' by a thread and lookin' for my wings
Mar 7, 2010 - 05:51pm PT
Was trailrunning alone up in Julia Pfieffer Burns State Park in Big Sur. Early spring morning. Sunny and as beautiful as a day could be.

There'd been a sign at the entrance of the trail warning about big cats, and I took it with a grain of salt, just as I did the presence of poison oak (know it's there + avoid at all costs = you live).

A little over a mile into the trail...the very deserted trail...the hair on the nap of my neck stands up, all by itself. I'd slowed to a walk because of roots and saplings, and then this hyper-vigilence thing comes over me. Stopped. Looked around. Couldn't see anything carnivorous...but I knew I was being watched.

Now I knew from the Bear Incident in Alaska that running away from a carnivore is tantamount to flashing an OPEN DELI sign on your back and waiting for the carnivorous customers to take you down...so I stood there a minute wondering what to do.

Couldn't run any more, not with Simba on my trail...so that decided my course. Picked up a branch with leaves still on it (makes you look bigger), and started to retrace my steps...singing at the top of my lungs.

It could've been the branch.

It could've been the "advance instead of retreat" action.

Most likely it was the ear-shredding screeching which I loosely call singing that kept me safe. (Jimmy Buffett: Margaritaville, Son of a Son, and Tampico Trauma...life-saving!)

For half a mile my friendly but well-hidden cougar followed me along that trail...but even a cougar will abandon the hunt if the noise is painfull enough.

I knew exactly when it veered off for easier, quieter prey, too...half a mile from the parking lot...and figured my heart had gotten a marathon run's worth of exercise with that encounter; further running was over-kill. ;-)

Trad climber
Mar 7, 2010 - 05:58pm PT
I've heard that bending down, as to re-tie a shoe, will set off an instinct to attack by a cougar.

Trad climber
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Mar 7, 2010 - 05:58pm PT
Singing loud songs: now there's an idea. Fun, too!

Ice climber
Pomfert VT
Mar 7, 2010 - 05:59pm PT
Does 30 count when your 18?

Mountain climber
San Diego
Mar 7, 2010 - 06:00pm PT
What like being stalked by Demi Moore?


I couldn't resist.
Ricardo Cabeza

All Over.
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 7, 2010 - 06:04pm PT
Funny you should mention that. I had forgotten all about this one.

I was out in the Ventanas a few years back with a buddy.

We hiked in about ten miles and camped by a creek.

A few hours later, we're hiking around and found a fawn about one hundred yards from our campsite. It was weak and apparently abandoned by it's mother

Needless to say, It freaked the hell out of us.

Soon, we start to hear TONS of rustling from the nearby woods.
We yelled for a while until we could tell that the animal had left, maintained a fire, and beat feet the next day.

In retrospect, I'm not sure what we should have done.


Hangin' by a thread and lookin' for my wings
Mar 7, 2010 - 06:23pm PT
Yeah, that's a tough one.

Just gotta trust your instincts...what you did was what you knew how to do, and it turned out OK for you guys. Sad about the fawn...but Nature works in ways we don't understand sometimes.

Now me...I saved a coot from a hawk because it all happened at my feet and I couldn't walk away. A weak, abandoned fawn...like I said, you did what you knew how to do. Don't look back on situations like that...it's a no-win game with your ego.
That's Papajoto to you son!!!!!

Social climber
Oatmeal Arizona
Mar 7, 2010 - 07:22pm PT
Twice, once while working up near Mt. Shasta, the second was my neighbor.


Mar 7, 2010 - 07:38pm PT
Twice that I know of. Once on a trail run in Thousand Oaks once when climbing at the Leap. Went down to Kyburz for a drink and a game of pool with my pard, Mark, and ran smack into a 40+yo hen party.

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