[pct-l] Cougar Territory Sighting

CHUCK CHELIN steeleye at wildblue.net
Fri Apr 3 10:46:09 CDT 2009

Good morning, PITA,

In 50 years of off-and-on hiking in the West I’ve never seen a cougar in the
wild.  I’ve seen droppings, markings, and a partially covered deer-kill.  Once
in the Elkhorns of NE Oregon I crawled into a cave beneath a gigantic flat
rock and found a bed with hairs that looked like they came from a yellow lab
dog.  I camped 10 ft. away that night on top of the rock but I didn’t get
see the previous occupant.  I’ve heard them scream at night, an event almost
certain to cause an instantaneous loss of control of one’s anal
sphincter.  Once
on the PCT near Mt. Rainier I saw cougar tracks covering the footprints of
another hiker known to be only 5 minutes ahead of me.  While I’ve seen
those, and many other tracks in dirt and snow, I’ve never seen where the
tracks ended.

I uploaded two photos of a typical cougar territorial marking to my ’09
TrailJournal at: http://www.trailjournals.com/SteelEye09/ The photos were
taken last July on the PCT just south of Grizzly Peak, east of Castella.  It’s
not the Marbles, but sort of close. In the “PCT Below Grizzly Peak” image
look squarely on the trail in the near foreground for a prominent,
trapezoidal-shaped, tan rock.  Adjacent to the rock -- low and right -- is a
roughly rectangular tan area of dirt.  “Cougar Territory Marking” photo is a
closer shot of that rectangle area from the opposite side.  It is actually
two hind-foot scuff marks made by a cougar when spray-marking its territory.
I’ve seen a bunch of similar markings here in N. Oregon, primarily on a
little-used section of Salmon River Trail in the Salmon-Huckleberry
Wilderness SW of Mt. Hood.

Wildlife biologists tell me that the cat sprays the area behind the
markings, but even though I’ve thoroughly sniffed fresh markings I couldn’t
detect a scent.  By the way, this is an excellent technique to use if you
ever get lost:  Just get on your hands and knees and sniff the trail for
cougar squirt.  At that moment some nosy hiker is bound to show up out of
nowhere and ask, “What the hell are you doing?” at which point you can ask
him where you are.


Hiking the Pct since before it was the PCT -- 1965



If anyone does know of a definite spot where a mountain lion lives, please
let me know -
I need some photos of one!!

Happy trails!!!
Jim / PITA

More information about the Pct-L mailing list