Animals on the trail.

8:52 p.m. on December 3, 2011 (EST)
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I got a early start today in San Diego County and went to the Laguna Mountains.  I was at the trail head around 6:20, sun was coming up and snow on the ground a great forest to explore.  The trail was the Big Laguna trail, also called BLT, this is near the PCT.  This is a picture of the area.


PB130089.jpg
This picture is from 2 weeks ago and the temp today was around 28 at the start, then I found this on the trail which made me very happy because I have not seen these tracks before.


PC030007.jpg
Then I got a good picture, the ground was frozen and the lion had to be in this area Friday or maybe very early Saturday morning before the ground got frozen again.


PC030008.jpg
I was fat, happy and dumb.  I couldn't wait to get more pictures, I was about 1/2 mile into the trail and found scat, that was frozen but not that old, I came around a corner and I didn't see the mountain lion but he or she let me know that I am not the king here and not welcome.  No I didn't run, but my whistle was in my backpack, failure on my part.  I walk backward for about 50 yards and left this area.  I had 2nd and 3rd trail as a backup, it made me think maybe sometimes I should not go solo, but at the same time I got out of this problem and nothing happen.  I would like to know about other members who have come across other animals, and what did you do? 

9:13 p.m. on December 3, 2011 (EST)
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Oldman Mike said:

 I came around a corner and I didn't see the mountain lion but he or she let me know that I am not the king here and not welcome.  No I didn't run, but my whistle was in my backpack, failure on my part.  I walk backward for about 50 yards and left this area.  I had 2nd and 3rd trail as a backup, it made me think maybe sometimes I should not go solo, but at the same time I got out of this problem and nothing happen.  I would like to know about other members who have come across other animals, and what did you do? 

Mike, I am curious, what was the part about "she let me know that I am not the king here and not welcome".  What happened?  Did you hear growling?

In response to your question, I have had (what seems to me) amazingly little contact with wildlife while on the trail.  Maybe I am just really good at "making noise when I hike alone", LOL :).  For the first time in 30+ years of hiking, I saw a bear while hiking on a trail this summer.

Here's an excerpt from my trip report:


... As I got to within maybe a half or 3/4 miles of the trailhead, I experienced a first for me. I saw my first bear on a hiking trail icon_karu.gif . Sure, I've seen bears before - one in a campsite near Ebbetts Pass years ago, one from the car in Yosemite Valley, one from the car in British Columbia ... and in zoos lol.gif . But in all my years of hiking, this was the first I'd seen on a trail.

As I hiked along, I heard a crashing sound off to the right. I've heard sounds like this before, but they typically have been either falling branches (or, once, a huge falling tree) ... or little critters. But as I heard the sound, I stopped. Probably a couple hundred feet away I saw the bear on top of a big log. It was very light blonde, with a dark colored snout. I couldn't tell if it had seen me - it was heading away (whew). I just stood there, and it ambled down the other side of the log.

I waited for a moment, then decided to continue on - the bear seemed to be heading away. Just in case, and to be sure I wouldn't surprise it, I started making noise with my (aluminum) trekking poles. And I kept my eye out in the direction of the bear, just in case it came around the log and towards the trail - but i didn't' see it again.

I had rehearsed this moment (my first on-trail bear sighting) in my mind many times. I would stop, survey the situation, and if safe, immediately start taking photos. But no such luck, the "sighting" lasted just a few seconds. Oh well, no photos frown.gif. Well, at least the bear wasn't on the trail hungrily eyeing my pack (or me) biggrin.gif ...

11:26 p.m. on December 3, 2011 (EST)
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It was growling to my right in the brush, I didn't feel like waiting to get a picture.  I was also making noise with my trekking pole, I would guess it was no more than 50 to 70 feet from my location.  I don't think it would have made a sound if it attack, but I'm not a expert on this subject, but I will read more about it.  I have been told don't run.  I had other people say they carry a stun gun, but if you have to use it, I feel that this would be to close.

12:37 a.m. on December 4, 2011 (EST)
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Hmm...

You may have encountered a mountain, but not sure the tracks shown support your assertion.  Many trails in So Cal have recorded mountain lion spottings, but they also have other creatures that can make pretty scary growling sounds, such as raccoons. 

Mountain lions have retractable claws, but the prints in your pic show extended claws.  Cats sometime will walk with their claws out, for example on surfaces with poor traction, but that is unusual.


LionVsDogTracks.gif

Ed

7:03 a.m. on December 4, 2011 (EST)
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Hey Mike, I too came across something like that 3 years ago. I was off trail on a deer trail I think. I noticed what I thought was cat tracks. As I hiked along I came up to a small stream. I looked down to see a paw print slowly filling with water. Dont know for sure that it was a cat, but I know that I was pushing it. I did the same thing you did. I backed out of the area.

10:11 a.m. on December 4, 2011 (EST)
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Your right whomeworry, I not an expert but I guess if I knew it was a bobcat I would have not of made a 180 degree turn.  The other thing I wish, was to set my trekking pole by the track, it has a scale which would have gave more info on size.  Live and learn, the only thing I can say was the growling was from a cat type animal.

11:39 a.m. on December 4, 2011 (EST)
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I have not seen anything whilst hiking, but as a child walking the woods near Baker Lake, Washington where my grandparents had an old fishing resort, would often encounter bear. We would be out picking huckle berries or black berries or salmon berries and they would be there. Usually there was an adult with us, but one time we went out exploring up the mountain side and while drinking at a stream, there was a cute cub about 50 feet from us.....We stopped and then saw heard and saw the mother further up the hill on her hind legs. We slowly backed out of the area and headed back to the house. We had been well taught as VERY small children about bears because they were so prevalent in the area and would come into the resort looking for food and garbage. i was about 10 at the time of this incident.

1:37 p.m. on December 4, 2011 (EST)
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Mike,

Do you have an estimate of the size of the tracks? Was the diameter 1", 5", 10" (I watched the latest version of "Ice Age" last night, and I think the sabertooth must have paw prints about 10", or maybe that was the dinosaur)? The footprint size would give a good indication of what animal it was. Ed is right that cats, especially puma and bobcat, walk with their claws retracted. except when running. If running, the appearance of the imprints is quite different. The track appearance in the photo looks like the animal was walking, and it looks more like a canine track. It's not a bear track (the hind paw would have a very different appearance).

4:20 p.m. on December 4, 2011 (EST)
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Hmmm, I saw a bobcat last spring and then saw the tracks after it ran away:


Spring-Trip-4-1-11-027.jpg


Spring-Trip-4-1-11-028.jpg


Spring-Trip-4-1-11-029.jpg

These were maybe 1.5 inches across...


7:30 p.m. on December 4, 2011 (EST)
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I didn't take a 3rd picture buy the claw went straight into the ground and made  nice round holes.  I would guess 4 to 5 inches, but it could have been 10 when I heard the growling.

7:32 p.m. on December 4, 2011 (EST)
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One last note the second picture shows 2 track sizes.

11:19 p.m. on December 4, 2011 (EST)
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Hiking a few years ago up in West Virginia in the Cranberry Wilderness, I was walking solo, contemplating the worlds ills, when I heard a loud crash in front of me about 20 feet. Looking up there was a branch growing stright out sideways from a tree that was about 6 feet off the ground and at least 8 or 9 inch thick. The branch was swaying up and down as if something really large had just jumped off it. There was crashing noises through the brush heading away from me. Not having actually seen it, I claimed it as my one and only ever bear encounter. The CW is supposed to be a bear sanctuary so I suppose it makes sense, but if in all my walks (mostly Eastcoast) that was the closest, then I must conclude that bears are very crafty and stealthy creatures.

11:28 p.m. on December 4, 2011 (EST)
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PC030008.jpg

 Hate to burst your bubble, but I must agree with some of the above posts. This is most definitely a canid track, not feline. Occasionally cats will show claws in tracks, but only ever in soft mud. Never on frozen ground. The heal pad is wrong for a cat too, but fits the "dog" pattern beautifully.

11:47 p.m. on December 4, 2011 (EST)
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Maybe it was a fierce wolf.....rabid even....or talented enough to sound cat like which portends evil in the shape of a werewolf. [me joshing]

2:23 a.m. on December 5, 2011 (EST)
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Sorry Mike,

Have to agree with whome and f klock on this.  I've spent some time in cougar country and those appear to be dog tracks due to the apparent claw marks.  I don't doubt you found cat scat either.  You were probably in the cat's backyard, so to speak.  Keep searching, you will eventually see tracks or might even get a glimpse of the elusive cat.  Good luck.  Here is a website which might assist you further in ID'ing the tracks:  http://www.wildernesscollege.com/mountain-lion-tracks.html

Also it is rare that a bobcat or a cougar will attack a grown human but it does happen from time to time, especially during lean seasons and if you surprise them.  More frequent are attacks on domestic animals and small children.  When I lived in Colorado, a family lost a child while they were on a hike in one of the National Forests.  The kiddo was probably 5 or 6, I can't remember.  They never found the child, just some tattered clothing.  No doubt a lion was stalking the group for some time and waiting for an opportunity to make its move. 

They generally are elusive and prefer to avoid humans, but, if you encounter one, never turn your back to it and present a large profile.  Make it reconsider its decision to choose you as a meal.   


cougarfoot2.jpg

Check out the size of the cat's foot compared to the hand!

 

9:06 a.m. on December 5, 2011 (EST)
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I agree, but the growling I'm not sure about.  I guess I failed at the ID, but I was not looking for Mountain lion, I was looking for Jeffery Pine tree pine cones, California coffee bean plants and great views.  One last note do you think it could have been Big Foot?

9:58 a.m. on December 5, 2011 (EST)
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Bigfoots talk!!!!  I know this for a fact.  They sneak up to your tent at night, while you are asleep and tell you scary stories about mountain lions and bears, LOL.  They are masters at hypnosis.

10:17 a.m. on December 5, 2011 (EST)
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Skier attacked:

 

10:28 a.m. on December 5, 2011 (EST)
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One last note the second picture shows 2 track sizes.

 

Front and rear paws are different sizes for most animals, plus different shapes. The main exception is Hoover animals and even then...

2:39 p.m. on December 5, 2011 (EST)
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I have seen Bigfoot and I will meet Yeti! If I see some third version of the Big Dude, say, SASQUATCH, that will be the trifecta of mountain monsters! But what about this lil guy?

 


jack.jpg

5:15 p.m. on December 5, 2011 (EST)
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That was that killer rabbit in monty python's Holy Grail!

5:22 p.m. on December 5, 2011 (EST)
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Awe, a jackalope.

I heard if you make eye contact with them they will eat your gear while you sleep. They have a serious hunger for high end packs, bags, and tents.

On the flipside after they are done with their smorgasbord of Cordura, Silnylon, and 800 fill down they leave you with Ozark Trail coupons and scamper off into the night.

Fear the jackalope. They travel in packs and eat them too. :)

6:12 p.m. on December 5, 2011 (EST)
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The skier (pause it at 34 sec) looks a lot like Robert Redford. Was this from some movie? Clearly was staged.

6:42 p.m. on December 5, 2011 (EST)
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I think the government wants you to believe it was staged...Bill.

10:39 p.m. on December 5, 2011 (EST)
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Bill, the comments below the video seem to indicate the guy on skis was its trainer. When you see the cat go bounding off into the trees it looks like there is another handler present hidden in the trees. Also at the end, the guy has a cut on the right side of his jaw. Or at least it looks that way.

11:00 p.m. on December 5, 2011 (EST)
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I agree with the others. The tracks you saw were not cat, but a canine. I've encountered animals(both alive and dead) quite a bit. Lots of bears, black, grizzly, and alaskan brown, though not a polar bear yet. I actually shot two films on bears, one for Nat Geo, the other for Discovery. While I love bears, my most memorable experiences have been with the W's, wolverines and wolves. Seeing any animal in nature is always a wonderful experience. In the Spatsizi in 2009 while working on an article, I walked a game trail over a pass that was worn deep with tracks from decades of use. Mine were the only human foot prints. There were many mountain caribou prints, goat prints and grizzly prints, as well as a lot of marmot or siffleur prints. It made me think that I was truly only a visitor in that place.

11:07 p.m. on December 5, 2011 (EST)
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Since we are on the subject. I would love to see a snow leopard in its habitat.

11:56 p.m. on December 5, 2011 (EST)
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The skier who was supposedly attacked, was a video by Marty Stouffer, who is famous(or infamous) for staging scenes for his wildlife films. Having shot wildlife documentaries, I certainly understand the difficulties encountered when trying to film "wild"animals. However, it can be done, though it takes luck and patience. However, Stouffer's issue, for me, is that he isn't always very upfront about situations that are staged. And his style and success is an insult to those filmmakers who endure long hours to get footage without having to resort to staged scenes. In his defense, all those old Disney nature films were staged, many on a farm on the Olympic Peninsula, so he isn't alone. There are certainly gray areas. While working on a film with Art Wolfe about wildlife photography, we banged on a tree that had an active eagle nest, so that we could get footage of the adult eagles in an agitated state. WHile they were not trained eagles, our presence and...gentle prodding...was not a natural action. 

12:23 a.m. on December 6, 2011 (EST)
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I hike up in the Lagunas all the time.  I've seen Mountain Lion warnings posted many times, but have never seen or heard one.  Narry a track either.

12:28 a.m. on December 6, 2011 (EST)
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giftogab said:

I have seen Bigfoot and I will meet Yeti! If I see some third version of the Big Dude, say, SASQUATCH, that will be the trifecta of mountain monsters! But what about this lil guy?

 


jack.jpg

 

I used to see those all the time, when I lived in Wyoming.  Darn hard to get a photo of, though.  :-) 

3:45 p.m. on December 6, 2011 (EST)
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Have not read past your first post,

but cats claws are not usually out when walking.

This is probably a canine.

3:46 p.m. on December 6, 2011 (EST)
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And there is every possibility that you would not hear from a cat until,

Ooops

3:56 p.m. on December 6, 2011 (EST)
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Erich said:

 While I love bears, my most memorable experiences have been with the W's, wolverines and wolves. .

 

Erich,

Though not a true wild scene one of the most amazing things I’ve seen in person is the feeding of the wolves at Bays Mountain State park in Kingsport TN.  The area Highway Patrol will save road kill deer when found and toss it over the fence. I think I would be truly terrified to encounter a full grown wolf in the wild. They were so much bigger than I imagined. The Park Rangers did say that the captive wolves were probably a bit bigger than they would be in the wild since they were so well fed, but even so….wow.

5:53 p.m. on December 6, 2011 (EST)
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The Road Kill deer in Eastern Washington goes to the inmates at county....well maybe they SAY it is poached.....but I prefer fried anyway.

10:25 p.m. on December 6, 2011 (EST)
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Patman said:

Erich said:

 While I love bears, my most memorable experiences have been with the W's, wolverines and wolves. .

 

Erich,

Though not a true wild scene one of the most amazing things I’ve seen in person is the feeding of the wolves at Bays Mountain State park in Kingsport TN.  The area Highway Patrol will save road kill deer when found and toss it over the fence. I think I would be truly terrified to encounter a full grown wolf in the wild. They were so much bigger than I imagined. The Park Rangers did say that the captive wolves were probably a bit bigger than they would be in the wild since they were so well fed, but even so….wow.

 

I remember when I was in Central City, CO in the late 1980's I remember a man who owned a wolf/malamute cross.  The dog had the typical long legs of a wolf.  Actually when I first saw it, I thought it was a captive wolf.  I spoke with the owner and he explained it was a crossbreed.  The dog was very well behaved.  The one thing I remeber was the fact the dogs head easily was as tall as my hip as he stood on all fours and I'm 6 ft tall.

1:31 p.m. on December 7, 2011 (EST)
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Regarding Pat's and Rob's comments, one thing to be aware of, is how species and sub species adapt to the environment in which they live. This not only includes terrain and weather, but also food source. On the film I did with Art Wolfe, we visited McNeil River Bear Sanctuary, as well as Denali Park. In both, we were getting footage of brown bears. Because they feed on salmon and have other such food sources, the bears at McNeil River were the classic Alaskan Brown Bears...huge, more than half a ton. In contrast, the Toklat Grizzlies in Denali, were no bigger, and even somewhat smaller for the most part, than the average black bear. This was because of a dearth of fatty food sources.

I have been fortunate over the years to encounter wolves in natural situations. It was always thought provoking. Each encounter was unique, a highly intelligent animal, not the least domesticated, and yet, whose ancestors were domesticated by our ancestors to serve their needs in work and for companionship. Whatever inspired those first humans to reach out to the wolves, is still within me.

I think that those who have experienced it will agree, a lonely wolf howl in the middle of an Arctic night, conjures so many ancient feelings.

6:54 p.m. on December 8, 2011 (EST)
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Just found these photos of the wolves I mentioned:
P1000620.jpg

Park workers about to throw a roadkill deer over the fence at Bays Mountain State Park in Kingsport TN. (from 2009)

 



P1000622.jpg


P1000623.jpg

they were in fact hungry like a wolf. The alpha male pulled out the gut ball and drug it off to eat alone.


P1000610.jpg


P1000616.jpg

We were told the average weight of the members in this pack was 120 lbs!

With no person in the pictures it's hard to tell how big they were.


7:04 p.m. on December 8, 2011 (EST)
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The game commision here had a Timber Wolf in their "custody" that was someones pet. When they caught wind of it they went to investigate and took the animal from the owner. 

I actually saw the wolf while it was being held and I have to say it was quite large. 

If one were to run into a pack of these animals I don't see anyone having much of a chance if the animals had the intentions of using one as a "Scooby Snack."

6:30 a.m. on December 9, 2011 (EST)
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If ever touristing in Los Angeles do drop by the Page Museum.  It is part of the La Brea Tar Pits attraction, and displays a small collection of the specimens exhumed from the site.  Notable are three of the displays will strike dread, and make you realize what early man was really up against.  They have a complete bear skeleton - I do not recall the breed - but it is considerably larger than any bear currently on the planet.  Then there is the North American Lion.  It looks like the African lion, at least as displayed, but again is about 50% larger than its modern descendant.  The display that left the biggest impression on me was the Dire Wolf.  This beast is about the height and length of a very large Great Dane, but with bones that hint of a physique more beefy like a Rottweiler.  Imagine a pack of 200 pound plus wolves sizing you up, and all you have is a spear.

Ed  

12:27 p.m. on December 9, 2011 (EST)
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Ed said, " They have a complete bear skeleton - I do not recall the breed".

That is mostly likely the Short Faced Bear. Many large mega fauna once roamed our planet. Besides the Short Faced Bear and the Saber Toothed Cat, there were Mammoths, Mastodons, and even a massive Beaver, the size of a cow. Of course, there were also knee high horses. A world turned upside down...or maybe that's what we have today.

1:42 p.m. on December 11, 2011 (EST)
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Love those wolves

6:24 p.m. on February 6, 2012 (EST)
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Once while trekking through the Cumberland Gap, i had a black bear stomping around my tent, making tons of noise, enough to wake me up.  i listened for about 10 minutes then it stopped.  the next morning as i got out of the tent I saw that my buddy had listened when told not to keep food in the tents and to hang it.  about a foot above my tent in a fork of a tree branch i saw a pack of trail mix that he had placed there.   

10:32 a.m. on February 7, 2012 (EST)
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Thanks for taking a look !

http://dwayne-oakes.artistwebsites.com/

Take care,

Dwayne Oakes

"Raccoon Creek"

p310509207-4.jpg

7:21 p.m. on February 20, 2012 (EST)
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f_klock said:

 Hate to burst your bubble, .... Occasionally cats will show claws in tracks, but only ever in soft mud. Never on frozen ground.

How could the print have been made on frozen ground?

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