Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Day 169- A Cougar!


Day 169, 9/24/14
1236 to 1259
23 miles

A short while after sunrise, I saw a cougar bounding away from me down the trail (at PCT mile 1238.5).  Large.  Fast.  Powerful.  Gorgeous.  I'd never seen one before but it was unmistakable.  It's rippling muscles, its tail, silky fur.  Like in a nature program.  Only this was real.  It had been directly in front of me, right here.  A cougar.

I gave my best impression of a fierce crazy unstoppable warrior.  Which I am, at that moment.  Banging poles together, shouting, opening my umbrella to look big.   The cougar might not have needed much convincing, as he did run away, but I didn't want him to even consider stalking me.  I've been through too much getting back to the trail.

It was so incredible to see a cougar, any top predator for that matter.  I'm so glad that they are out here, such magnificent creatures that play a vital role in the ecosystem.  Unforgettable.

Looking over my shoulder.
Still, I wanted it to leave me alone, to keep both of us safe.  Cause for cougars to be out here, they gotta not mess with humans and stay out of sight and out of the way of hunters.

I kept hiking, turning around frequently to make sure it wasn't following me.  I kept going and going.  I didn't know I had that much stamina in me.  Only when I got to the Middle Fork of the Feather River, about 12 miles from where I'd seen the cougar, did I relax enough to take a break and go for a swim in the deep pools.  The water cascaded over smooth rock, cutting a steep gorge, dragonflies were swooping around.  The deep valley was filled with lots of plants I had not seen before.

Middle Fork of the Feather River.
I didn't see anyone else all day.   When I stopped I realized I'd climbed a total of 5k feet and descended over 6400 feet today- no wonder the poor feet were tired.  Seemed a good distance to put between me and the cougar.

Umbrella-plant lined banks.

12 comments:

  1. That is so cool!! You got to see a cougar. Glad you used the umbrella trick. Safe travels my friend.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yet one more use for that multipurpose umbrella! Glad you and kitty were OK. Very cool sighting.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Joan - is it ok to share your blog with friends of mine?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Of course! Please feel free to share!

      Delete
  4. What a great adventure you're having !! Stay safe out there.

    ReplyDelete
  5. How good is that. I sort of had a similar experience whilst walking Larapinta . I was sitting by myself at a track junction whilst the others in my group went off on a side walk and I needed to rest as I was in a bit of pain . I was dozing and I became aware of a presence and took notice as a dingo came right up to me a sniffed my pack and feet. I stayed still, not scared but just in slow mo and very aware . The dingo was sleek and very thin and totally unconcerned by me. He disappeared after he realised I had nothing for him .I later heard him or one of his pack howling well into the night .
    A cougar though , I think I'd do exactly what you did and high tail it out of there . What an experience to remember.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know this is a bit delayed, but I am back in the land of internets and have my computer back... so I got a chance to look up dingos... and OH MY what an experience to have one up that close to you. I'll bet it was unforgettable. Really is something all the things we see out there, especially when we are alone and quiet/still.

      Delete
  6. Joan, it seems like your wonderful adventures continue. I see where your most recent posts are in the Four Corners area. With your permission, I'd like to post your Cougar encounter story on www.pcttrailsidereader.com . . .

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Absolutely feel free to post this story. Thanks! Yes, I had the chance to explore the Four Corners- really interesting area.

      Delete
  7. Joan, thanks. It will post on December 22nd! I may periodically pull a PCT photo of yours to include on the website . . . and I will always give you full credit and do my best to let you know. Happy holidays!

    ReplyDelete