[pct-l] Mountain Lions & Weapons
tnye at gmklaw.com
Fri Apr 3 13:04:22 CDT 2009
Not to put to fine a point on it, but even though the number of attacks are
small, they are increasing in frequency after the prohibition on hunting
lions in California. In the 80's a woman that I interacted with on a
professional basis was attacked and killed, partially eaten as well, while
running on a path outside of Cool here in California just to the East of
In '03, the warning signs posted on the trails outside of Stehekin cautioned
about lions, not bears. I passed a group of four hikers on the road north,
very dusty, almost like talcum powder. Within 15 minutes their tracks were
covered by those of a lion; the tracks did a 90 degree turn after having
followed along the road behind the hikers. When I realized that, I
straightened up quickly as I was bent over looking at the tracks.
South of 5 mile camp the following day (SoBo) what I assume was a lion to
the side of the trail became very vocal as I approached, It didn't move away
on my approach. I had been using a bear bell since an encounter during
spring run off while in the Marble Mountains about 15 years before. I wound
up ditching that when I concluded it was more likely to pique feline
curiosity than protect me in an already noisy environment where sounds are
already drowned out by the sound of rushing water. There are plenty of lion
tracks out there, saw fresh tracks twice on the trail through Three Sisters
in '05, one was filling up with water from the water logged soil at the
My own stupidity contributed to the bear problem. I was hiking down a narrow
valley, almost a ravine, with a stream in full spate. The sides were at a
45 degree angle. The stream took up one third on the floor next to one of
the sides, while the rest was a shelf in an old growth forest.
I cam through an old growth dead fall that the Forest Service had sectioned
a round out of in order to accommodate the trail. The bear was lying down
on the opposite side of the tree next to the trail. I don't know who was
more surprised, but the bear took off down the train, around a bend and out
of sight. At the first instant, I "huge dog", but it was moving incredibly
I continued down the trail, around the bend and there was the bear on the
train, now facing me, on the opposite side of a clearing. I figured: "Well,
we've already established who's boss", bent down, picked up two sticks and
continued forward banging them together to move the bear off the trail.
The bear went up on it's hind legs, popped its teeth a couple of times, came
down and bluff charged. Of course, at the time, you don't know it's a bluff
charge. You figure that out when it stops about 5 feet short.
I immediately found something else to look at and backed away frankly amazed
that I didn't have to find a new pair of shorts.
It all boils down to respecting your environment and trying to minimize
errors in behavior.
From: pct-l-bounces at backcountry.net [mailto:pct-l-bounces at backcountry.net]
On Behalf Of Erik The Black
Sent: Friday, April 03, 2009 9:22 AM
To: pct-l at backcountry.net
Subject: Re: [pct-l] Mountain Lions & Weapons
Personally, I never leave the house without a good knife close at hand, much
less go into the wilderness. A knife is at the top of my list of essential
You'll probably never use it for anything but cutting cheese. But sometimes
shit happens, and when it does a knife can save your butt. And there really
isn't any sacrifice in carrying one, if you choose the right kind of knife.
It's not like a gun which is basically useless, too heavy to be practical,
sometimes illegal, and scares people who see it. A small knife is
lightweight, unobtrusive, and more socially accepted than guns, and far more
effective in close quarters.
The best kind of knife for hiking is a skeletonized fixed blade knife in a
kraton sheath. These are used by climbers and divers because they can be
strapped or hooked within arms reach and drawn in an emergency situation,
with one hand, very quickly... and they are very lightweight (I have one
made by Columbia that weighs only 3 ounces).
If you think a man armed with a knife couldn't possibly stand a chance
against a mountain lion read these three articles. These people were
attacked by lions and thwarted the attack with just a knife. Two of them
actually killed the lion.
-Erik The Black
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