23 April 2010

Mountain Lion Encounter-Grave Creek Montana

Once a week I take a hike with a dear friend of mine. Since I spend so much time not in the company of humans it is a very important day for me lest I lose all my social skills. This day we decided to drive up Grave Creek Road which takes one into the Ten Lakes Scenic Area. We were curious to see how far we could get before running into the snow line.

We parked the car about ten miles in and walked as far as Clarence Creek before we hit snow. Clearly it will still be awhile before we can get to the lakes. We turned around and marched back down the mountain. When we got back to the car I said "Let's walk down a little further.", which we did. Shortly after passing the car Koty started pulling on his harness and acting like a crazy man. He'd been a whiny brat all day so I didn't really think that much of it.

We walked maybe three quarters of a mile before heading back up the mountain. Normally, when I'm in the woods, I am alone and very attuned to my surroundings. I often spot wildlife before Koty. But, when I'm with my friend I end up chattering like a magpie and paying absolutely no attention to what's going on around me.

As we were walking back to the car I was expounding on who the heck knows what, I have a theory about most everything. Suddenly my friend says "What's that?" I look up the road, maybe a seventy yards away, and I see a figure I can't quite make out standing not twenty feet behind the car. At first I thought it was a wolf. But then the coat was so dark I thought it might be a bear cub. I quickly snapped off a couple of shots.  Even looking through my 300mm lens I still couldn't quite make out what it was.  The animal just stood there looking at us until I started to move toward it. Then it scampered back down the bank toward the creek. It wasn't until we were back in the car out of the glare that we could clearly see what it  really was. Below is what we saw looking right at us.

No wonder Koty was having such a fit. He could smell this cat and knew it was quite near. Normally, I would have been on red alert based on Koty's beahvior alone but as I said this was my attention MIA day.

The rest of the day was anti-climactic but I still have a couple of nice photos I'll share. When we got back to the valley floor we went over to the campground. The below photo was taken from the bridge.

Over at the campground we puttered around in the rocks and boulders along the creek. I just love this stuff. The designs are to die for.

Intergalactic by Kinsey Barnard
Intergalactic by Kinsey Barnard-----Loaded to Gallery

Here's another on I call "Moonstruck" because it looks to me like craters in the moon.

Moonstruck by Kinsey Barnard
Moonstruck by Kinsey Barnard-------Loaded to Gallery

Well, this certainly wasn't a day I will soon forget. These are the days that I live for. These are the days when I know I am truly alive. These are the days that I bow down and give thanks for the inestimable privilege to live in this magical place!

©Kinsey Barnard Photograpy

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Dave said...

Congratulations on your mountain lion sighting! It's very unusual to see them, as they are so elusive. In all my years in the woods I've seen only two, and they were moving fast. Even if I'd had a camera, I would have been unable to catch such a fine photo.

It's amazing that KotyBear stayed on point instead of tackling the cougar. Good dog. That would not have turned out well for either of them.

I recommend the following website and know something about its main man, Dr. Gary Koehler. I heard him speak in Lewiston two years ago. http://projectcat.net/9.html

We have a local zoo that caters exclusively to the big cats, and you can see some rather unhappy examples there.


My zoologist brother-in-law does not like to go, because he compares it to the Bronx Zoo, which it ain't.

Unknown said...

I finally had a chance to read and look at the photo.
Awesome. I'm glad you got to take the picture. Beautiful animal.
I am also glad he just went on his way! I'm still figuring out who really lives in the wilderness. Last night my husband heard gunshots nearby. Turns out a street down from where we live there was a driveby shooting and one person got killed and two or three more are in the hospital. Can I come and walk with Mountain Lions please? I would feel so much safer :-)

Walker said...

I know what you mean Ginette.

I love your avatar BTW.