You all know I am irrationally petrified of getting eaten by a mountain lion. Every time I start to get close to being OK with the risk, someone comes around and says, “Oh yes, some woman DOWN IN SAN DIEGO had her scalp eaten by a mountain lion, I remember reading that in the papers, and she only lived because some guy rode by on a mountain bike and threw the bike at the mountain lion” and then I get all freaked out again. (Thanks, Susi.)
Yesterday Brody and I checked out a new-to-us area called Mission Trails. We went before the abovementioned lion-scalping conversation, when I was still feeling confident. Yes, they are out in the area, but sightings are rare, and to my knowledge no one has ever been attacked in this particular park. (They very habituated aggressive cougars featured in Cat Attacks live in Cuyamaca, a bit further east, and no I won’t go hiking there.)
Not to say the park officials don’t give you sufficient warning all the same.
The Visitor’s Center discusses the many wild beasties who wander the park, along with decorative sculpture to make sure you know exactly what you are dealing with.
In a prescient moment, Brody takes in the competition.
My original path was blocked by a river too high to comfortably cross, so we meandered over to a path called Climbers Trail. It’s only a mile, I reasoned, it’s a nice little walk.
Straight up the side of the mountain to the base of those rock cliffs. It was a little more strenuous/steep than either I or Brody were expecting. But it was good. Exhausting is good.
I found myself thinking about yesterday’s off leash conversation as we worked our way single file down the rock face. On a short standard lead, with a large dog is ahead of me and jumping down rocks, it’s very easy for him to bound beyond my reach and possibly pull me off balance. Normally that’s not an issue, but doing that, I understood the reason people prefer hiking off leash in large open spaces.
Nonetheless, I kept a tight rein on him, which ended up being a good thing.
Near the top of the trail, Brody and I took a breather perched on a little rock outcropping. With the steep switchbacks, a lower portion of the trail was directly beneath us. As we rested, I heard the huffing of a large human puffing their way up the trail. A pause, then, AIEEEEEEEEEE! I peeked my head over the top to see a big burly looking guy pressed up against the far side of the trail, looking at us. Then he started laughing hysterically.
Sure enough, this poor guy saw a big orange head peeking out at him from the trail above, and out of the corner of his eye in that one split second he thought Brody was a mountain lion. Fortunately for all involved that was not the case. Granted, it’s such a narrow and high trail people probably don’t bring big dogs up there too often, but we didn’t know any better. Besides, he’s got a low center of balance. He did great on the rocks, and perfected his cougar impersonation to boot.
So there you go. We have a great practical joke up our sleeves now, for when we get bored.