I'm going to toss in a suggestion to read the book "Beast in the Garden" by David Baron. It's a very interesting study, and an easy read, about the habituation of big cats to humans specifically around Boulder, CO. He presents all sides, and an incredible amount of information about cat behaviour, and how that changes as humans enter thier environement.
I agree. I tried going solo on a few days around Mt Hood here in Oregon, but ended up hiking along with another guy I met on the second day. I like hiking alone all day, but I do like company at camp. Maybe when i become more confortable by myself in the wilderness I'll welcome being alone.
But for now, I got me a trail buddy: a yellow lab.
While up in Banff a couple years ago, I read a big story in the Canadian papers about an old, retired guy sitting at a bus shelter somewhere in British Columbia who was pounced on by a cougar. He had a pocket knife to defend himself. Hard to believe but he lived, despite some serious wounds. And the cat didn’t! Guess you can take solace in that. I recommend the book “Ghost Walker” by R.D. Lawrence, a very sympathetic book about cougars and their plight. We are trampling on their ground, after all. And remember, when at ridgeline on a cloudy afternoon, when you poke your Leki pole in the air, the chances are much, much greater of getting zapped by a lightning bolt than eaten by any nearby cougar trying to get the heck away from you. ("Man, crazy chica! She trying to get us both fried?")
From what I understand, the time you need to fear a cougar the most is in the winter when food is scarce. If it's springtime, summertime, or fall you shouldn't have to worry about it too much. There is plenty of food and their stomachs are full. Maybe it's a load of crock; I don't know. But it sounds reassuring. Sorry to hear your trip didn't go as planned.
I'm WAY more concerned about getting to the trailhead safely, what with all the lame a** drivers out on the roads these days, than I am of anything i MIGHT encounter on a hike AWAY from Humanity!
One on one with wildlife? I'm pretty sure I can survive an encounter. One on one with a crackhead or other jacked up druggie with a weapon in town? Again, I'm pretty sure I'd survive, not so sure about the druggie though <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smirk.gif" alt="" />
PEPPER SPRAY AIN'T BRAINS IN A CAN!
I know this is an old thread but my daughter was a friend of the female mt. biker that was attacked by the cougar that supposedly killed and ate the other mt biker. After the investigation was over, they now believe that the deceased biker possibly had a heart attack and was dead before being eaten. The lion was a young one and they believe was startled while eating the first victim. They believe that the lion was defending his "food". I have lived in the southern California mountains for almost 30 years and have hunted and fished there and all over the western U.S. and canada for even longer. Like Dryer, I have yet to see a mt.lion. I have seen their tracks and used to have hounds when I was a teenager and hunted with guys that had taken lions. The lion that attacked the mt biker was beaten off by the female friend of the victim. The lesson is "will to survive". Never ever give up!
Loc: bc/yukon border area
tarbubble, your fear is not irrational there was a incident. just think the whole thing out, cougar attack will be one of the lowest risks you will face on your trip. the area i live in is filled with grizzly i feel alot of apprehension and fear every time i solo but i would not be able to stand myself if i just gave up and did not go.there is usually a couple incidents a year but there is also thousands of hours of bush use put in by workers and hikers.the odds are almost nil anything will happen. i push myself to go and the reward is tremendous and eventually you conquer your fears .the only way to is to go thru them .i would wear a large bear spray and a sturdy sheath knife on your person at all times ,stay alert trust your gut feelings go on your hike and keep going it is what makes us alive.
There are risks in everything we do. Weather you are driving a car, swimming in the ocean, crossing the street, or whatever. I think we should always be aware of our surroundings, and take precautions to protect ourselves. But don't let fear of a small chance of something happening spoil a potentially great experience.
Cats of a particular manner could be quite vicious. About 2 weeks ago, we were on our way to my girlfriend's parents place, and she was telling me how one of their cats supposedly chased a fox off the property. It sounded to me like an exaggerated version of some ordinary event. Later that night when we were sitting by the fire, we saw a deer walk up, no more than 30 ft away from us. A few moments later, we saw a streak of white fur and some glowing eyes take off after the deer. It was their housecat, affectionately known as "Skunk" Skunk was unsuccessful in his hunt, primarily because his legs are much shorter than the deers, but he still was quite proud of his attempt, walking over to us and confidently relieving us of a hot dog. I guess he earned it <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smirk.gif" alt="" />
Loc: The Third Maine
If all else fails, as others have mentioned, cougars usually break their preys neck instantly. It should be a quick and painless death. Seems so natural to die in that manner...much better than slipping in the bathtub, or a carwreck or something.
When I die, I want to go quietly in my sleep like my father did.
---not screaming like his passengers.
I am certainly happy to hear that that's how it goes for the cougar's normal prey. I'm not sure it would be that way if we were the prey, though! I'm not getting much comfort from your post, to be honest.Yikes!
I've always said the griz is the only thing I'm truly afeard of. And that's after living in Yellowstone for 3 years. Maybe the griz isn't the only thing afterall---
Loc: Kitsap Peninsula, WA
As yourself: How much do you like hiking? What are the odds of being eaten? If the rewards of hiking outweigh the risk of being eaten then the "risk management" answer would be to keep hiking. I was fearful but an no longer for two reasons. First, I am an old man and I'm going to die anyway, so if I fall off the mountain or am eaten by a bear, so what? Secondly, I have spent so much time in the woods (72 days last year) that I have habituated to the fear. I saw 2 or 3 bears close up last year, one just casually walked through our camp. It was a wonderful feeling and really one of the highlights of the trip. I'm a scuba diver and I used to, when I started, be afraid of what I might do or think when I first saw a shark. When I finally did they swam by me like all the other fish and then went on their way. No big deal. Since then, if I see a shark I hope he/she stays around long enough and gets close enough for pictures. What I am saying, is just keep hiking and spending the night out and you will get used to it. It wouldn't be the wilderness if we were all protected from all the hazards. You could Stay at the KOA if that is what you wanted. Keep on treking! JIM
Congratulations for confessing your fear. I used to hike solo a lot in the 70's. Now I am old and scary, so I usually bring a handgun. If you don't like that idea pepper spray or a cattle prod, or a big dog. You brain needs to know that you are not defenseless against an animal that "has equipment."
Riding horses and mules has made me much more aware of the presence of mtn lions. Most of them tolerate bears better. Their ears point the way. I got bucked off a mule in 2007 and broke my femur when crossing a mtn lion trail in eastern Oregon.