"I dream of a hard and brutal mysticism in which the naked self merges with the nonhuman world and somehow survives...Paradox and bedrock."-Edward Abbey

13 August 2013

Lion's Share

Torrey's Peak as seen from the top of Watruos Gulch...

There have been rumors of mountain lions within our funky little township. Just a few days back, in the early morning hours, a narrow-gauge rail worker claimed to have seen one walking up Rue Woodward as pretty as you please. Perhaps it's true, though the cat who told me drinks. However, mountain lions, I once heard, can have territories of up to thirty square miles. Why couldn't that include the hamlets of our Sahel?

Of course, this story rattled some of the public. Never mind our proximity to National Forest and wilderness areas. Fucking humans. When the wildlife is fuzzy and cute, it's great to live here. When one is reminded not all of said wildlife is such, that some could hurt you, there is fear and loathing.

You just can't please some people...

Driving back from the radio station, about twelve miles from home, a lion bounded in the roadway in front of us. It was gone into the the trees before Sabina had a chance to get a good look, but I saw. It was amazing. My first time seeing one of those in its natural habitat, such as it was. Although, I confess, I was glad to be driving by instead of walking. It was nighttime. A mountain lion can see in the dark, I can't.

I've still yet to see a lynx or bobcat, but my patience is formidable...

When leaving for walkabout, Sabina wished me a good trek and told me to be careful. I couldn't help but wonder if part of that was concern over the recent feline sightings. One of our walkabout companions told us the most frightened he's ever been was coming across a mountain lion in the middle of it eating its dinner.

As I wandered further into the bush, I came to realize-nay, remember and reaffirm-that I am far more ill at ease in a room full of those half-bald monkeys who call themselves Man than being out in the wilderness alone with the one and million shot of encountering a single mountain lion. Aside from wildlife, the Backcountry has its host of dangers, certainly. I know this. However, Homo sapiens are just plumb unpredictable, never to be trusted alone, and most assuredly not in groups of two or more. Anyone who tries to say otherwise is daft or trying to sell you something. 

Walking the trail without another biped anywhere around me was sublime. When the recent mountain lion sightings entered into the mathematics of my thoughts, there was no fear, only a chuckle. As some of you may or may not know, I once came up with a character, fictional in his countenance, who has a sort of kinship with that species of cat. I know of a few-grown, rational, intelligent people-who have a dysfunctional crush upon my creation. Funny, there's no way I could be that good.

I walked through those pleasant five-minute summer drizzles and warm sunshine. Pikas and chicory squirrels were my only company. Their calls and the distant rumble of thunder, the only sound. On the way home, I saw a five-point buck grazing off to the side of the frontage road. Majestic, and far better food for any hungry predator than some skinny biped who might go hop-scotching into their neighborhood as to escape his own species.


  1. I think mountain lions are among the most beautiful creatures in nature and I would love to see one in the wild. People irrationally fear them - they've killed like 10 people in the last century...hardly anything to be too fearful of. But perception is reality I s'pose.

    1. It's the whole predator thing. Traditionally, predators only go after humans in self-defense-or that of their young-if they're too old to catch their usual prey, or sick. Perhaps that's why I'm not completely fearful of such things when out walking.

  2. I think I'm caught in the web of your afternoon. At the end of summer, house crammed with boys and pals all sucking the last of freedom from this month before the classroom rules....and I am in desperate need of a little isolation.

    The coons and coyotes killed often on our ranch...the two lions I've ever seen? Nothing. :)

    1. When I lived in Eastern Colorado, the ranchers would make a Saturday afternoon out of drinking beer and shooting coyotes, tacking their corpses to fence post in antropomorphized warning to others of that species.

      There's a bridge down-valley dedicated to a teenager who was killed by a mountain lion over twenty years ago. Occasionally, you hear of a dog or cat gone missing and it's questioned, if not assumed. Otherwise, they go after the deer and big horn. Better eating, I'd think.

  3. First, let me say it's not dysfunctional to crush on your creation. I know he's out there somewhere...

    Though there are cougars in my area--I've only heard one breathe/rumble in the trees about ten feet from where I was standing one night, which was scary enough--it's the raptors that are the main threat, at least to several cats.

    Love your photo...

    1. Kind of defensive there, dear. Usually, you only get that way when-quite on accident, I might add-I make a Beatles reference to one of you characters ;p.

      Before the other night, I'd seen tracks, the size of my hand, which was pretty impressive. I can admit to not liking to ride my bicycle after dark in certain places because of the possibility, that whole disadvantage of night vision.


  4. I agree with terlee about crushing on your character.
    There's a sly neighborhood cat that strolls into my house, checks out the artwork, sniffs the rum and leaves without a word. His name (as far as I'm concerned) is Lankin.

    1. It was that chopping firewood scene, wasn't it? Or wait...I do recall you confessing to fanning yourself with an invitation when he first met Sydney. You girls.

      Well, if anyone could be a shape-shifter...