Wednesday, February 13, 2013

cougar sighting!

I have literally been wanting to see a mountain lion in the wild my whole life.  I've spent a fair bit of time wandering terrain where they've been known to hang out, and literally the prospect of seeing one is in the back of my head all the time (admittedly, mostly deep in the recesses of the back of my head, esp when I'm raging through blower powder!).  Last spring down in the desert we happened to notice a handwritten note at a trailhead saying that there had been a sighting in the area, and Greg caught a glimpse of something that "could" have been a cougar, and even though I sprinted in that direction to catch my own glimpse, it was for naught. 

And today, it happened.  Ash and I were driving down from a hike in Mill Creek and just above the kiosk at the mouth a full-grown cat crossed the road in front of us!  It waren't no big golden retriever, it wasn't a bobcat (though Paul said he's seen two of those at that same spot), it was most definitely a mountain lion. I didn't get a photo, of course, but as you can imagine, it looked similar to this:

I was and am so stoked.  Especially after being sickened by the news that last week the "authorities" tracked and killed two cats in the Park City because of reports of pets being killed.  As the Salt Lake Tribune said in its "thumbs down" editorial, there are not many cougars and lots of pets, and living on the edge of "wilderness" has its natural perils. 

It was interesting to note that despite the fact that I would sort of imagine a lion being able to sort of effortlessly slither across the snow in a menacing feline way or bound up and through it with it's incredible power, it was actually struggling to get through the couple of feet of sugary snow about as much as a dog would, which makes a lot more sense.   This winter - with an unusual amount of low-elevation snow - is probably a bit hard on all wildlife.  But he wasn't too worried; he unhurridely went about 20-30 feet into the brush, then stopped and looked over at his shoulder at us; which was pretty cool.  There are few moments one gets in life to lock eyes with a lion....

I of course am eternally indebted to Ash, because I wanted to turn around early on our hike because my toes were going numb - and I already frostbit my toes this winter and they are still not healed, after a month - but she talked me into continuing.  If we'd have been on my weenyboy schedule we would have missed the sighting! 

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