Mountain lions

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Npike
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Mountain lions

Post by Npike » Sat Jan 12, 2019 3:38 pm

I’ve done a search and can’t find anything on the topic of mountain lions. I know they’re out there, although hardly ever seen. Do you all give them much thought when heading out to the backcountry? Does your apprehension increase when solo? Or are they so elusive that it’s not even worth worrying about an encounter? Are there parts of the Sierra where they are more common than others? Myself, even though the chances of running into a bear is much more likely, I think more about possible lion encounters. Irrational fear? What are your thoughts?








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JWreno
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Re: Mountain lions

Post by JWreno » Sat Jan 12, 2019 4:07 pm

I have only seen 1 wild mountain lion. We were headed east up Hwy 120 toward the higher elements at about 11PM. I saw a large cat cross the road and up a steep bank on the other side in about 4 bounds. I was amazed to see it and impressed with its size. I expect if I ever see one it will already be headed away from me. Most likely people are seen by the lion and not the other way around.
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gregodorizzi
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Re: Mountain lions

Post by gregodorizzi » Sat Jan 12, 2019 4:08 pm

I feel like sekihiker recently mentioned an interesting encounter (was it a mountain lion?) that he described in one of his reports.

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Re: Mountain lions

Post by balzaccom » Sat Jan 12, 2019 4:19 pm

We have never seen one on our trips, but we have certainly seen their tracks and/or scat on the trail. And one memorable morning in Summit City Canyon we heard what sounded like two of the fighting in the granite and manzanita covered slopes above us. Astounding.

No, I don't worry about them.
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Re: Mountain lions

Post by bobby49 » Sat Jan 12, 2019 4:59 pm

I've seen one in the wild near Kings Canyon.

On a different trip, I was north of Wawona well after dark, so I was moving by headlamp. All of a sudden I heard an animal scream off to my left. Immediately I thought "mountain lion" and started feeling into my pocket to see where my pocket knife was. Then it screamed again. Slowly I figured out that it was moving parallel to my route, so I just kept moving slowly on the trail. Then I heard it cross the trail behind me, and I heard it the last time off to my right. Later when I got home, I listened to some recorded animal sounds to try to match my memory to something. It turned out to be a gray fox, so I felt relieved.

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Re: Mountain lions

Post by balzaccom » Sat Jan 12, 2019 5:33 pm

Actually, even experts find it hard to distinguish between the cry of a fox and a puma.
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Re: Mountain lions

Post by markskor » Sat Jan 12, 2019 6:07 pm

Only seen one ever...coming down the Snow Creek trail. It was a hot day Yosemite...maybe 100º. He/she was a hundred yards off trail, (saw the tail twitch), and resting deep in the shadows of a sheltered pool. I just kept on going down the trail, feeling lucky at the sighting, and unphased. In that heat, the big cat wasn't going anywhere.
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Npike
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Re: Mountain lions

Post by Npike » Sat Jan 12, 2019 6:50 pm

Interesting stories. Sounds like most here aren’t “afraid” of them, but would treat them with cautious respect. It’s finny though, talking with folks where I frequently mountain bike around home, they seem to think that if you see one, you might as well bend over and kiss yourself goodbye

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Re: Mountain lions

Post by robow8 » Sat Jan 12, 2019 6:52 pm

A few years ago, me and my wife were at Hamilton Lake in SEKI, with plans to go over to Tamarack Lake the next day. We were relaxing by the lake, talking to some other hikers, when a solo, male hiker came in to camp. He seemed a little distressed, and told us that he was at Tamarack Lake, and was filtering some water. He finished filtering and stood up and turned around, only to see a mountain lion. He decided that he didn't want to stay there by himself, so he hightailed it over to Hamilton. My wife and I decided to not go to Tamarack the next day.

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Re: Mountain lions

Post by giantbrookie » Sat Jan 12, 2019 8:03 pm

I had one memorable encounter with a mountain lion in the dark at Tower Lake back in 1987. I saw only a shadowy form because it was really dark. It was probably 2 am and I had gotten out of my tent to pee. My eyes sensed some movement at the foot of this tree about 100' away. I was curious about what sort of animal it was. It seemed fairly large and I sensed it wasn't something I had seen before. I stared at it hoping I could resolve what it was by I just couldn't (in those days my night vision was very good indeed, but not good enough for this). Finally I lost patience and figured if I charged this animal it would take off running and I'd get to see what it was. So I began my charge but stopped abruptly after a few big strides. I was alarmed because whatever it was hadn't flinched and it was the first time an animal hadn't fled when I had charged it. Making sure to appear as tall as possible I walked backward, so as not to turn my back. Unzipped by tent behind my back, then crawled back in and went to sleep. Whatever it was did not follow me. The next morning, the first thing I did was to walk to that tree and see the tracks of what sort of animal it was that didn't fear me. There were mountain lion tracks all over the place beneath the tree.

There was another time when I sensed that a mountain lion was really close but I didn't see it. I was doing field work near Lake Almanor after a spring or fall (forget which) after a recent snow fall probably around 1994 or so. I was not thinking about mountain lions or anything of the sort. I parked my vehicle and got out to look for evidence of faulting of some moraines. I did not see anything nor see any tracks as I got out of the car and started walking. Soon I had a very creepy "hair stand up on the back of my neck" feeling. I have rarely felt like that and I wondered why I felt so uneasy. It wasn't what usually makes me feel that way (potential of running into dangerous humans), so I was puzzled and disturbed. Uneasy I walked further away from the car, looking at the geomorphology. Then I looked down onto the snow beneath my feet and saw mountain lion tracks. Initially I was not concerned because I saw that there were deer tracks and the lion must have been stalking the deer. But why did I feel so uneasy before I ever saw those tracks when I hadn't even been thinking of a mountain lion? Something still didn't feel right. I walked back into my car and drove to a different place to examine geology. Many years later (2012) I was invited to give a talk at a geologic meeting held at a resort near Kennedy Meadows (Hwy 108 Kennedy Mdws). I recall my talk time was something like 5 pm so I figured I could leave Fresno in the morning, do a dayhike to a fishing spot, then get to the venue in time. The obvious quickie target for me was Waterhouse Lake. I drove to the trailhead and found I was the only car parked there. Thundershowers had come in the night before and obliterated all of the boot marks and such off the trail. So the tracks on the trail were "reset" to the morning. The route to Waterhouse begins on a short trail that vanishes after which one follows little use paths down the canyon wall. On the trail portion there were no tracks except the most enormous mountain lion tracks I had ever seen. That must have been a very impressive animal. Yet, unlike the Lake Almanor experience, I didn't have the animal instinct creepiness, so I marched on alone to Waterhouse (and struck out fishing--lake appeared to be mired in the mid season slump).
Since my fishing (etc.) website is still down, you can be distracted by geology stuff at: http://www.fresnostate.edu/csm/ees/facu ... ayshi.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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