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Friday, November 1, 2013

A mountain lion and us

As you know, my dogs and I love to play in the forests and meadows near our house.

We usually don't see the wildlife around us, although I am acutely aware that the wild animals are going about their business out of our sight.

This morning, Shyla and I had a close encounter with a mountain lion, although I didn't know it at the time. We were riding up toward Hug Hill, and I had my Garmin GPS going, recording our position at each instant during the ride. Shyla stayed close, right next to my bike.

A little later, after I'd dropped Shyla off at home, I checked a trail camera that was along our route up to Hug Hill that morning. My jaw dropped when I saw this.
This was taken by a camera that was within 30 yards of me and Shyla as we rode up to Hug Hill. The mountain lion was moving fast at first, away from the trail Shyla and I were on.
Part of what shocked me was that I believed that Shyla and I had been there at almost exactly the same time as the mountain lion was photographed. When I arrived home, I uploaded the GPS file showing my route (and the time that I was at each point during the ride). Indeed, the data showed that Shyla and I came very close to meeting this lion. I think that he was moving out of our sight when this camera captured his photo.
After a few very fast steps, he paused, hidden from our view behind some pine trees.
Although there wasn't snow on the ground right in front of the camera, there was snow just in front of the lion. I tracked him and saw that he walked purposefully and quickly away from where Shyla and I were after this long pause.
This reiterated for me that our mountain lions really prefer not to be seen by us. It also showed me that Shyla has some common sense. She didn't even take a step in the direction where the lion was hidden. She stayed right next to me the whole time.

People ask me if I'm afraid of being out in the forest with the mountain lions. I used to be when I first moved here... but I've come to believe, over the years, that the vast majority of mountain lions don't want to be anywhere near me. I spend enough time "out there" solo, that I would've seen many more mountain lions by now if they weren't so afraid of humans. Although it's a spooky thought, I feel certain that many lions have watched me pass by as they stood hidden in the forest by the trail.

It was another intriguing and beautiful day in the mountains of Colorado.


  1. Wow! What an incredible close encounter! I share your feelings that most wild animals--including mountain lions and bears--prefer to avoid human encounters whenever possible. That's been my experience anyway.

    Susan and Wrigs

  2. Oh - I think this happens more than we realize - probably good because we would be more freaked out if we knew for certain a predator was close. I'm glad Shyla stays close to you. My Breezy always was close to me, and she never chased or barked at wildlife. I felt "safer" with her, but it was probably just a feeling and not a truth.

  3. I agree. I think most wildlife wants to stay hidden. Shyla, on the other hand, is GLOWING!!

  4. What an amazing close encounter. It is almost like you had a sixth sense about the big cat and that is what led you to check the camera.


  5. Wow, Torrey would have alerted on something like that. Good job for Shyla to stay close. That must have been a weird feeling when you saw that.

  6. And, did you get my email? You won the giveaway for the Dogobie disk and Zukes power bones. I just need your address.

  7. Whoa! That's scary and yet really exhilarating at the same time.


  8. Very close, and Shyla, so good as she stays close. Super last silhouette pic. Keep safe. Greetings from Jean.

  9. Around here we occasionally hear of mountain lions who aren't afraid of people. They clearly don't last very long.

    My favorite mountain lion story (true, in our local paper) is the fellow who went turkey hunting. He sat under a tree blowing his turkey whistle when a mountain lion dropped down from the tree to attack him. The fellow said he didn't know who was more startled, he or the lion. The lion ran away, and the fellow never tried that again!

  10. Wow, it certainly makes you think, just what it out there on the trail. Shyla is very obedient and certainly amazing staying ever closer to you.

    Enjoy the weekend.

  11. Good girl for sticking very close to your mom, Shyla!

    Love ya lots♥
    Mitch and Molly

  12. wow, i suspect that close encounters happen more than one realizes!

  13. That is so cool. Glad everyone had the sense to stay away:)

  14. Timing is everything! How cool that you were able to pinpoint your location and match it ti the camera.

  15. Wow, a very interesting post. Stay safe out there though! Hopefully you carry some sort of protection - knife or bear spray..?


  16. I just got all caught up with your posts from like..the past month! I have been SO busy. Awesome camera trap pics, as usual. That mountain lion scenario is unnerving. But so indicative of their true nature. Not blood thirsty killers. THanks for sharing, KB!

  17. Oh, so very cool!!! We have lots of mountain lions around here, butts luckily they stay closer to the foothills, so we don't get that close to them. We do have coyotes comin' around that have killed a couple of small dogs and a kitteh. That was terribly sad and scary for those with smaller animals. The mountain lions are just so beautifuls, and your right much more scared of us than we are of them (usually)
    Ruby ♥

  18. That is incredible about the mountain lion. I love that Shyla stayed with you, what a smarty. A beautiful day indeed.

    Anne and Sasha

  19. That is one big kitty. People ask my MOM the same thing when we go out, just me and her, in the forests woods and mountains. Especially when we backpack. MOM can say that she really has not been scared BUTT she is always aware that there is more than us out there. And there are times she just knows we are being watched. Many times we have been sitting up against a tree or rock and I become alert and she gets that feeling. We just sit and watch and enjoy the fact that we can be there among "Them" whatever them are. We are truly blessed to be able to enjoy such incredible moments.

  20. Thanks everyone for the comments! To answer one question, I used to carry pepper spray. After more than a decade of carrying it, I realized that I'd accidentally sprayed myself twice (once in the face) and I'd never used it to defend myself against wildlife. So, I don't carry it anymore.

    Be sure to read Cheerful Monk's comment! Very interesting story.

  21. I had wondered about that too...if you ever worried about encountering a mountain lion or bear.

  22. I'm glad you didn't have a closer encounter than that! It is pretty cool, though, that Shyla exercised her wisdom!

  23. I'm glad you didn't have a closer encounter than that! It is pretty cool, though, that Shyla exercised her wisdom!

  24. I too think that there are many close encounters in the wilderness that we are not aware of. Like you, I insist on the dogs staying close for their safety. I will never forget the time that Cairo and I encountered a Momma bear with cubs in PA. We were upwind of her as we rounded a curve in the trail. Nice to see!

  25. Very cool to catch that lion! We love that last pic!

    Your Pals Who Got Snow Today,

    Murphy & Stanley

  26. Wow - close call and so cool to get those shots. A few weeks ago I wrote on our blog about an encounter we had several years ago up in Ojai. I agree with you - they really don't want to be seen to interact with us, but you have to stay vigilant.

  27. i'll be grateful the most i have to worry about here tangling with my dogs are riled up raccoons and coyotes. and water moccasins and copperheads.


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