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JayB

Mountain Lions

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Has anyone run into a mountain lion here in the Cascades? I've heard that their numbers have increased pretty dramatically over the past 30 years or so, but I can't recall hearing anyone talk about seeing one or running into one. Given their nature, you'd expect sightings to be rare, but I'm still a bit surprised by how few people run into them.

 

I've run into a couple over the years. My first encounter was in Southern Oregon. I'd been flyfishing well past dusk in the foothills about an hour out of Medford, hiked out through a moonlit trail, and discovered that I had some unwelcome company. I'd guess it was a fairly young cat as it wasn't terribly good at the stealth thing at that point.

 

The next time we ran into one was on the way back from a hiking trip on the Olympic Pinensula. It was right about dusk and we were just starting the drive home when we saw an extremely pissed off looking cat skulking across the road an into the bushes about 100 feet away from a woman parked along side the road. As we drove closer we noticed that the woman was attempting to drag a young deer - fresh roadkill - back to her truck. We rolled down the window and let her know that there was a high probability that there was a full-grown mountain lion within 50 yards, and that she might want to step away from the roadkill. She looked up, blinked a couple of times, then dropped her head and resumed the dragging while informing us that she needed to take the roadkill to "The Chef." Then she asked us if we'd help her get it into the truck. For reasons that are unclear to me know, we each hopped out, grabbed a leg, and yanked the thing into the bed. All the while I was thinking to myself "Why am I doing this. This is kind of a bad idea. This could very well end up being dramatized - complete with the baritone voice over providing the dramatic foreshadowing to our imminent demise - on some sort of animal attack show." The memory is a tad hazy, but now that I think about it, I suspect the reason that we hopped out and grabbed a hoof was because the woman didn't bat an eyelid when we told her about the mountain lion, and kept dragging the carcas across the gravel with the same kind of grim determination that she'd been showing when we pulled up, and we just knew intuitively that we'd feel kind of bad if we drove off and found out that she'd been killed and eaten.

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This past week on Dome Peak I heard some loud "screaming" while topping out just above the avi swath. I didn't know what it was, but I knew it was bad juju, so picked up the pace since I was solo.

 

Last night I spoke with none other than Mr Klenke who returned from the same area. He reportedly spotted a cougar in the exact same place I heard these screams.

 

They have a pissed off sound to them.

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I've seen signs of them in Wa/Or but never a live beast. I imagine terrain & hunting pressure reduce visibility.

 

I've seen them several times in CA - just north of Santa Cruz one laying in a field (!), one running across a meadow by monterey (specifically up in Carmel Valley), and a juvenille ran in front of me mtbing in the Santa Monicas (yup, there is wild life down here)

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I know someone who was "stalked" by one early season while hiking on the Glacier Basin trail en route to climb Libery Ridge. They were warned about Cougars by the rangers, and on a whim did a loop back to their footprints behind and found paw prints.

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Same on Glacier for me. I was up there solo early season. No sign on the way in. On the way out after Kennady Ridge there was fresh scat and tracks all over. I heard noise a fair distance off so it didn't seem like they were looking for me at the moment. Even so I didn't goof off to much getting out.

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I like how you're avoiding using the word "cougar". Meow.

 

I saw a mountain cat right out by our house in Quilcene when we lived there, nearly hit it...it ran right out in front of the car.

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I saw one while snowshoeing on the trail to the summit of Mt Townsend about 6 years ago. Scared the crap outta me. I must not have looked like reasonable game with a 185cm snowboard on my back...

 

Two seasons ago I saw a bobcat while snowmobiling the road up to Cashmere.

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a long time ago one of my older brothers was out hunting duck with his dog (out by Forks) and his dog got into it with a cougar. he had this shotgun that would fall apart whenever you shot it, and his dog was losing the fight so he shot the cougar, which only pissed it off and it started coming at him as he tried to put the shotgun back together. it was just a few feet from him when he managed to get it back together, and he dispatch the puss.

 

he brought the thing back to house, and they put it in the living room. later that night they tied a string to its foot and when my mom walked in they made it move like it was still alive, causing my mom to drop dinner on the floor (a hilarious result!).

 

It was a pretty big cat, my bro had it made into this big rug (with the head intact, baring its teeth at you) that we had in the family for about 25 years before someone stole it from his house.

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I just remembered another story: someone I know was descending from Little Tahoma in June '04, and ran into a cougar right on the trail. It reared back like it was going to pounce and hissed at her. She made herself look bigger and backed away slowly.

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Seen more of them in Washington State than I could count or remember, they're not that rare if you're out there.

 

Only a few in the Cascades tho, one stalked my fire partner for an hour or so until we went looking for him. If he wasn't standing tall and yelling, waving his shovel and this big stick he had, the cat advanced on him, even if he faced it and walked backwards. He rolled about 6'3", 210 or so, not a small target. And of course he was down in a hole out of radio contact.

 

Usually they bail when you act aggresive.

 

Not always.

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Back in 2002, we were about 2.5 miles up the trail on Mt Si and as I glanced back I saw a cougar cross the trail and head down. Must have been smaller, only about 2 1/2 to 3' tall.

 

In 2003 we car camped at Ipsut Creek in November, and on our way out on a Sunday night (not alot of people there in November) I saw a cougar cross the road in the rearview mirror. He was pretty big, at least 3'+ tall.

 

And of course, I have seen several cougars at Cathedral Gap on Tahoma. smile.gif

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I saw one one the southeast shoulder of Mt Daniels a few years ago. We'd have missed it except it ran accross a snowfield and we saw the motion. Also heard one scream a number of times on the Foss River near the Necklace Valley.

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Got stalked by one on the way up Mt. Aix (near Bumping Lake) on the east side of the crest off SR 410 a few years back. Only my prints in the snow on the way up. Later that day on my return, there were my prints, and some pretty damn big cat prints for about a half mile.

 

Similar thing happened on one of my early trips into Strobach Mtn. for some ice climbing.

 

I was solo both times (yeah, solo ice climbing isn't all it's cracked up to be rolleyes.gif ).

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there seems to be a fair number of sitings in the North Bend area. I've seen 2 in the past couple of years. One was at the barn in the early morning. It was more interested in the chickens than me. Regardless, I moved slowly back into the barn and shut the door.

 

The second time I saw one on the trail near snoqualmie. Fortunately I was riding my horse at the time. That one paused and gave us a good long look.

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2 years ago, hiking down from Buck mountian I just happened to look up and see what appeared to be a younger cougar trotting up the trail....it was light brown & I thought it was kinda spotty but no way was it a bobcat. It had a long tail. I'd guess it was around 50 pounds...big dog size anyway. I stopped and it didn't notice me until it was perhaps 30 feet away. As soon as it saw me, it turned and was gone within a few seconds..never saw or heard a thing after that.

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About 4 years ago I was driving up the Middle Fork Road and saw one dart out across the road about 2 miles past the Mailbox trail head. Was around dusk. Big fucker, about 3' tall at the shoulders.

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I've never seen any mountain lions around Seattle, but definitly lots of cougars.

 

Si_Night_110.jpg

 

yellaf.gif

 

True story though, my buddy was hunting elk around the big hole in MT and at the end of the morning hunt he was tired and hungry. He was headed home empty handed when he heard some strange noises coming from a clump of aspens. He goes over there and there's a mountain lion that just backed off a fresh elk kill growling at him. My buddy takes out his hunting knife and cuts a hind 1/4 off the cougar's elk kill and runs away, with dinner!!

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it would have been cooler if he had eaten the cougar for dessert, or at least let her spend the night

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