Tales from the Trail

Tales from the Trail

A Chapter by Robin
"

Encounters with Mountain Lions

"

Cats - Big Cats

     I spend a large amount of my free time outdoors and I have almost seen everything that is to be seen . Of all of god's creatures that inhabit my stomping grounds, the spookiest have to be Mountain Lions . They are the masters of stealth.

   One of my favorite places to ride and hike is the San Joaquin River Recreational area - or what I affectionately call " The Leap "  . It  is nestled in very steep , very secluded  river canyon, where I have seen Deer, Wild Turkey, Quail, Bobcats, Coyotes, lots of snakes and Kitty.  Kitty is a Mountain Lion , a big one , and a female. I first met her on a mountain bike ride there . On this day I had a buddy that was fairly new to mountain biking . We were pretty far back on the trail , way past the boat-in campground at the Lake.  it was late spring and there were a lot of range cattle with calves. That day they were not their normal social selfs . Usually they would ignore us and sometimes they followed us along the meandering trail, or just stand there and stare, their mouth full of tall grass . That day, they were defensive, actually shielding their calves as we approached them - "Ok not good," I said .

My Buddy asks "Whats up ? "

" Something is spooking these guys "

" Like what ? " 

   Cat ...

  We decided to go on a little further and turned around before the death march to a place we called 'Bad Dreams', an old gold mining camp. As we were jammin' back downhill, towards the lakeside clearing, I came around the corner and thought I saw something dart across the trail - Calf ?  Coyote?   Damn - I come to a stop and a few seconds later my Buddy slid up next to me " Whats up ?"

   "Saw something" - We started looking at the surrounding area and could see a lot of Cows down the hill and they were circling again - Damn it !  As I studied them , my buddy shouts out - "OH WOW!"

" What ? "

" I saw it ? "

" What?! "

" Mountain Lion ! "

I looked down the hill where he was frantically pointing , nothing ...  then to the left , I spot something move again - and  Pow! - across the gulley she flew, ' Oh man, she is big! '  I thought to myself and she was in full hunter killer mode . The Cows at the same time went into a full circle defense . The intensity was unbelievable!  Imagine a cow roaring, Ok, now imagine twenty of them. By now the  Bulls have showed up and they where strutin' and snortin',  racing along the perimeter of this cow circle, all of them right in the middle of the trail  - our way back home.

     We watched Kitty flank them uphill and hide behind a log, her tail snapping back and forth, as she made her plan. We gave a quick look at each other, then she was gone , lost her - oh great. The Cows never broke formation and the Bulls were now looking for threats ,  any threats , Hey look! - Mountain Bikers !

  This is where they usually ask one of those stupid questions, " now Robin , would you rather be stomped by a Bull or be Kitty food ? "- Pass on both, thank you.

    El Toro de Toros  has now focused his protective energy  on us and  jukes his way up the very narrow trail we were so lucky and unlucky to be perched upon .  Lucky for us he didn't feel like climbing up the narrow singletrack to us , instead he blocks our way and decided that we were not to be going anywhere soon.  We spent a long time on that trail waiting for things to calm down , as Kitty faded into the background .  

 

   The Sun was rapidly setting. decison time - This part of the trail was closed, the cows had seen to that . We could back track ( climb) and ride a very unused gnarly secret spur , buddy votes no , I concur , or we can hike-a-bike across the hillside and rejoin the trail past our bovine "friends".  As our only option , we began to stomp our way  through the waist high grass, stumbling over hidden roots and shin-seeking rocks . Did I mention it was spring? and snakes as in rattlesnakes, big rattlesnakes ?  we moved slow enough and loud enough to to survive,  I did see a few tails slither away .   

    Soon we could pedal again and raised our pace to beat the darkness . This trail is a roller coaster, up and down , and we soon had another hard section ahead of us. It crosses numerous washouts and has tricky switchbacks.  Concentrating on the trail, out of the corner of my eye, below us - again - I see something . I stop, my Buddy catches up and thanks me for letting him rest - No - I saw something - Oh great ....as he sank into his bike .

    Looking at the hillside below us we scan for any movement - nothing. It is dark, We take off again and all of the sudden she jogs across the trail right ahead of us , takes a direct look at us , darts off and disappears - Oh s**t!  I will never forget that look - the Cat , my Buddy's face. I didnt have a mirror.

    I jumped off my Bike and instructed him to do so also. We scoured the Hill looking for her and finally caught sight of her way uphill by an rock outcropping, her silhouette against the dark blue sky.  She might have had a den way up there - I didn't check . She slid again into the shadows and we took off . My buddy was climbing like he never climbed before, and lived the meaning of the saying " All you have to be is faster than guy next to you"  We made it back, but we were spooked by every bird , squirrel , and twig snap along the way.

That was the last time my buddy rode the trails there,

It wasn't to be the last time I would see her .....

 



© 2010 Robin


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.
that's a good story.
and forgive me for smirking all the way through.
since i am of another country, i have never seen nor encountered a mountain lion - but i quite liked this she-cat!
i know cows. and i have biked through ranges over stoney trails, so your story made a nice blend of reality and imagination for me.
thanks for sharing, Robin

Posted 7 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.




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.
that's a good story.
and forgive me for smirking all the way through.
since i am of another country, i have never seen nor encountered a mountain lion - but i quite liked this she-cat!
i know cows. and i have biked through ranges over stoney trails, so your story made a nice blend of reality and imagination for me.
thanks for sharing, Robin

Posted 7 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

If not for days like that, how would you have those great stories to tell around the campfire? Another good one, Robin.

Posted 9 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

This one has been the most engrossing story yet. I was actually riding a bike next to you two--or so I felt. Which reminds me to never hang out with you. You are a magnet for disaster. You should call these Tales From The Cryp-pled.

Posted 9 Years Ago


Wonderful story...I love the mountain lions, snakes and all the rest of them. It sounds like you are respectful enough to not get harmed by them. I remember hiking and then seeing mountian lion footprints on top of mine on the way back, one had followed me for about a half of a mile...talk about goosebumps. As far as the cows go, I have had similar experiences and decided never to eat cow again, they don't belong in our wild places...hope the lion caught a calf.
There are some minor errors in your story, mostly puncuation.

Thanks for sharing this nature story.

Posted 10 Years Ago


great story telling, real salt

Posted 10 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.


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Added on August 3, 2010
Last Updated on August 12, 2010
Tags: mountain lion, cougar, mountain biking, hiking, outdoors


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Robin
Robin

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