Saturday, July 3, 2010

Mountain Lion Encounter

My friend Michelle and I ran 7.5 miles yesterday. That gave her plenty of time to tell me about her recent encounter with a mountain lion while on a solo run. She is obviously still alive, so it was a happy ending.

Michelle was visiting Steamboat, Colorado with her family. One morning she decided to take a run up the ski mountain. Alone. She didn’t tell anyone where she was going (and I’m assuming didn’t have on a Road ID). As she crested the top of the mountain trail, she looked ahead of her to see a huge lion standing about 15 feet from her. He stared her down and started pursuing her slowly. Think of a cat pursuing a mouse and how they crouch down and steadily move forward. She had time to snap this picture. As if.

mountainlion

You can’t go to a trailhead in Colorado without being told what to do if you have an encounter with a lion:

  • Do not run. Back away from it slowly, but only if you can do so safely. Running may stimulate a lion's instinct to chase and attack.
  • Face the lion and stand upright.
  • Make eye contact.
  • Do not bend or crouch over. Try to appear larger. A person squatting or bending over looks a lot like a four-legged prey animal. Raise your arms. Open your jacket, if you're wearing one.
  • Throw stones, branches, or whatever you can grab without crouching down or turning your back. Wave your arms slowly and speak firmly in a large voice.
  • Do not approach the lion.
  • Fight back if attacked. Try to stay on your feet if a lion attacks you. Lions have been driven off by prey that fights back. Some hikers have fought back successfully with sticks, caps, jackets, garden tools, and their bare hands. Since lions usually try to bite the head or neck, try to remain standing and face the attacking animal.

Do not approach the lion??? This is kind of like the warning on the iron that says, “Do not iron clothes while wearing them.”

The above instructions are about the opposite of what you do when you encounter a bear, so I always get confused. I’m hoping if I run into a mountain lion and I curl into the fetal position, he will be so astounded, he’ll leave me alone, thinking: “She’s too dumb to attack. Stupid blonds don’t taste good.”

But, back to the story. Michelle turned around and ran her ass off, screaming, arms flailing. She knew you weren’t supposed to do this, but she also knew that if she got attacked in this isolated area, she’d be a goner. She wanted to get a bit closer to the condos further down on the side of the mountain. She turned around once to see the lion continuing to pursue her. He wasn’t in a full run, but was coming after her.

She made it down to the condos and found a guy taking out his trash. He took care of her and calmed her down. By now the lion was gone. Her husband called the wildlife people who were very interested because they hadn’t seen a lion on the mountain that year. They drove up to the spot of the encounter and found her tracks as well as the lion’s. The also found a dead deer. Turns out the lion had just killed a deer when she came upon the scene. Mr. Lion was protecting his food and trying to keep her away. Seems he was not chasing her, but warning her to get away.

One time when I was at band camp Emma was 2 months old my mom and I went on a hike outside of Boulder. I had Emma in the front pack. We were about 1/2 mile form the car when we heard the distinct growl of a mountain lion beside the path. I have NEVER been so scared. I can’t believe I didn't soil myself. We picked up rocks and started walking quickly away. I now know not to go trail running in the early morning or at dusk. I also know to always go with someone and on a well travelled trail.

What’s the scariest or strangest thing that’s ever happened to you on a run?

Don’t forget my Subway giveaway!

40 comments:

  1. Wow - amazing. I have been running in Steamboat many times and the most frightening creature I've encountered is a deer!

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  2. Yikes! There was a cougar (the animal kind, not the woman dressed in clothes meant for girls half her age at the bar kind) attack not far from my town last year, as well as a story circulating about a woman coming across one while running on a trail that I used to frequent, but haven't run on since. I came across a bear last year, it was just a little black bear, but scary enough!

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  3. That is an amazing story! The only thing I've encountered on my runs are an old tortoise crossing the road, a couple of deer hopping through the woods and an old man grunting along the trail sounding like he was in um mid peak so to speak.

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  4. Michelle' s story is really scary and your is just freaky! Glad everyone is ok! I had a mountain lion encounter a couple years ago. I was running alone at dusk (bad time) in Chatfield State Park. He was standing on the trail facing me and began walking towards me. I started flailing my arms and screaming. He walkied into the woods and then I ran a 4 minute mile home. It really just made me aware of what is really out there (and how huge they are)!

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  5. I grew up on the western slope of CO and a neighbor was standing in her kitchen when she saw her cat fall dead straight out of the tree in her yard. When she looked up into the tree, there was this giant mountain lion.

    My mom and I always would go for walks on my parents' land, think lots of sage and juniper trees. Needless to say we carried a lot of sticks and noise-makers on those walks for a long time afterward.

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  6. Wow!
    Though my life wasn't in danger either time maybe my virginity was - I have been chased by a man in a car (had his shirt pulled over his head and was masterbating - at least acting like it. He had covered his license plate with mud and did everything to keep me from being able to recognize him. Luckily his back light was broken out and he had a very distinct car. Second time I was running up our bike path and saw another runner "stretching" or so I thought. As I approached I realized he too was jacking off.
    Apparently our little town has a lot of creepers.

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  7. omg that is scary! luckily the scariest things that have happened to me have all been in my imagination or stupid stuff like falling and misreading directions. *knockonwood*

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  8. are you serious are just Joshing about that photo....I am admittedly gullible :) But just have to know.

    My brother and his wife and I were hiking in the mountains just off some highway in the RMs and were way up the mountain when we heard a low mean sounding growl. We grabbed rocks and sticks, flanked my less athletic and more afraid sister in law and we booked it down the hill really fast. We were a bit disappointed to have not seen what we were running from but that was said from the safety of my brothers truck!

    Thanks for the tips!

    Badrunner, I saw a guy jacking off when I was running on a beach in Hawaii. I had stopped to pick up some shells and looked over and threw up a little in my mouth when I saw some dude going to town on himself. Ok it wasn't that bad but eeeww.

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  9. Yikes, that is scary! I have seen a couple of bears while running by my house, but they have never chased me.

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  10. Oh wow ... I freak at the occasional dog wandering around, or magpie flying around ... I would have screamed and run fast as well. Very very pleased NZ doesn't have wild animals running around!

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  11. This would scare me to death! I like my wild animals at zoos.

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  12. Holy cow! I have chills just reading this. Insane and I am so glad it had happy ending. I've been in an area where a mountain lion had just been and boy do I hope I never ever see one, or a bear for that matter.

    I didn't realize bear survival and mountain lion survival were opposite. I thought both were to just wave and look bigger? Either way, I think I would crap my pants and run. In that order.

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  13. I don't plan on running anywhere with mountain lions. And I would've totally completely absolutely shit myself.

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  14. That lion encounter tops the scary list! We have mountain lions here, too. I wonder if mace would work?

    The weirdest thing I saw while running was when I used to run at a lake near my previous house, where there's a lot of critters. I ran by a guy casually riding his bike on the same trail and a squirrel ran out in front of him, stopped long enough to make the guy swerve and almost fall off his bike, then runs back to where he originally ran from. It almost seemed like a calculated plan on the part of the squirrel. It looked really funny. The guy said to me "do you believe that?" I said back "If I didn't see it with my own eyes I wouldn't have." For all we know, the squirrel probably went and high fived his buddies after that, like an old Geico commercial.

    I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

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  15. you mean the advice is not shut up and run ....hahaha

    seriously i think i would just poop my pants and lay down and pray

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  16. Egads. Encountering a predator like that has got to be damn scary. I'm not sure if the picture was just kidding, but its probably not too different from what you would see.

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  17. I saw a mountain lion on the Mesa Trail just behind NCAR in Boulder on New Year's Day this year, at about 1 in the afternoon. So don't believe they are only out at dawn and dusk. They are always out there! He just looked at me and walked away. It was really scary.

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  18. Deer huh? I might have had to take on that lion if it meant deer sausage...

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  19. On Memorial Day weekend, I was almost "jumped" by a group of teenagers. I got away (fast feet) but my pride was smashed!


    Best directions ever: with our new outdoor grill it said, do not grill in the house. WHO GRILLS IN THE HOUSE!

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  20. Lucky woman! It's a good thing that Mr. Lion just caught a deer. I often read stories about bear attacks but never a lion.

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  21. I would definitely have soiled myself!!

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  22. I'd be so scared coming across a mountain lion. My scariest is probably a rattle snack or dealing with the cars on the road.

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  23. I stared down a wild boar once while running in the woods surrounding an Army base in Germany. (They smell terrible.)

    I often wonder what I would do if I ran up on a Florida panther or alligator.

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  24. Oh my gosh! - I would have stood there and cried.

    About the scariest encounter I had was with a dog that came after me. I was running in the road in a residential area and the dog escaped from the corner of the fence. It was a Rottweiler and it came charging at me from the side. I ran into the middle of the road and stood my ground and yelled at it. It lunged and made contact with my knee - it bruised it - but did not break the skin. I continue to tell it to get away and eventually it went back to the house. I was going to simply continue on my run - but I decided to go to the door and tell the owner what had happened. It eneded up being a yelling match - the women said the dog was behind the fence and I said it snuck out by the corner. Eventually I left - reported them to the city. I heard that this was not the first complaint they had against the dogl. Needless to say - I changed my route.

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  25. I read this to my husband, and as I was listing off to him what to do, he ended each one with "and then you pull out your gun"... lol. That's a hunters answer to everything!!!

    Just last week I had a scare for my life... My husband always teases me about not having the motivation to run on my own...so he was gone with the kids and I had just recieved an new running skirt in the mail. That was all the motivation I needed. I put it on and ran out the door to run our typical 4 miler that goes down a gravel road by some farm houses. On my way home I saw these HUGE elk in the field and decided to stop and look. An old truck pulled up to me at this time and an old yucky looking man in a beat up truck told me he was lost...and asked where these roads led. I told him and then he kept trying to talk about his truck and lure me over... and when I asked him if he saw the elk, he completely ignored me and went on about his truck (an old beater remind you.) Then out of nowhere he sped off and went up the hill and stopped in the middle of the road blocking my way. He finally inched forward to a point where I couldnt see him and so I ran forward towards the closest house and saw him waiting for me ahead. He finally turned off the road and I booked it to the houses and started yelling for someone to help me. A lady came out and brought me in her house, and just then the creepy guy had turned back down the road driving slow and looking around for me... so we called the police and she hid me in her car and drove me home. For the next two days, anytime I heard an older sounding truck I got all paranoid. Never before had I truly thought that "this person wants to take me and hurt me". Super scary.

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  26. Frack. Just lost me comment. Anyway it was a tossup between drug runners and crocodile blocking my path.

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  27. OMG how insane is that?!? I'm glad she was okay... definitely not something we have to consider in these parts, but it gave me chills none the less!

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  28. Scariest thing that happened to me during a run? Flying 30 feet after being hit by a car, then having to crawl to the shoulder before getting run over by the next vehicle (unlit country road and I was wearing black. Yeah, I know...)

    Best critter story? Saw what looked like an ugly dog crossing a road. As I got closer, thought it might be a raccoon. Then, I knew it was something I'd never seen before. It just stood there, waiting for me, unafraid, so i approached to get as many identification details as I could. When it registered in my head that it was a wolverine 18 inches in front of me, I nearly fainted.

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  29. I think that that would scare the crap out of me! I live in central North Dakota where mountain lions generally don't. But since May, there have been about 5 sightings of mountain lions within 5-10 miles of our farm. They say that they are making there way from the Black Hills. Needless to say I haven't been running outside much. People have told me that I should be fine because where I run, it's fields of beans, corn, wheat with grass in the ditches and no trees, well the word "should" is what gets me, I still think that one could be lurking in a wheat field or something. I know that I should probably get over my fear, but as I said we don't have them around much. I have read that carrying mace could work with animals.

    My scariest moment was a stare down with a skunk. he stopped me dead in my tracks about 10 feet in front of me. I started to back up slowly as he started to turn around with his tail up in the air, well I backed up a little bit faster and he eventually waddled away. Although I would rather get sprayed by a skunk than attacked by a mountin lion

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  30. *Insert joke about mtn lions = cougars .....mentioning cosmopolitans*

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  31. Hahahaha, “Do not iron clothes while wearing them.”

    I just visited Colorado last week - posted some pics! I know you live there, so it's not like I'd shock you with pretty views :)

    The instructions on how to deal with the lions are very similar to how to deal with dogs when they attack you when you run. I never encountered a lion (or whatever they are.. bobcats?) in Cali. In Texas, I've only been harassed by dogs, which can be pretty scary. Funny how it's the least intuitive thing that gets you in control of the situation.

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  32. that is creepy as F!


    ive encountered a few strange animals.... and some hilbillies following me... id say that was the creepiest!!!!

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  33. In my early 20's I was a bit of a stupid runner... (but hey, I ran more!).

    My scariest moment was when I was in a skimpy running outfit (read: stupid), when I got lost on the outskirts of Prague. At the time I spoke maybe two words of Czech. Two men pulled over and opened their door and I had no shoulder to move to. That's when I learned the word for "Nice/attractive"- to my dismay. I was able to run- full bore- away but it really shook me up.

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  34. Wow, that is scary! I probably would have done the same thing, even if I knew the guidelines of what to do. It's funny that the bear instructions say to climb a tree! I wonder if anyone could do that in a moment of panic!

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  35. I do trail run alone and have only been afraid of humans before, though I don't live in an area with moutain lions and bears!
    My "scariest" encounter was running up a mountain, looking down mid stride to see that I there was a rattlesnake on the trail and I was currently "jumping" over him. Scared the CRAP out of me. I always have my eyes peeled for them, and have seen them in the distance and switched directions, but this time he/she "snuck up" on me. it took a long time for me to stop jumping out of my skin at every stick I saw on the trail!

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  36. I live in NY... the only cougars I encounter are the 40 year old prowling for young men. They often wear booty shorts running. That is all.

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  37. Holy crap I think I would of peed myself if I was her. I've seen mountain lions at the zoo and they honestly seem like one of the most aggressive of the big cats (considering they are probably well feed).

    I've seen black bears eating berries on an island close to shore while canoing past them on a canoe trip. There was oddly a lot more people closer to them than me on the lake with my family, so it seemed safe but it was just an odd sight to see. I've never seen a bear before that time but had always been warned about how you should react just incase. The instructions are close to the mountain lion.

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