Saturday, June 28, 2008

Here Kitty Kitty!

It was bound to happen sooner or later. Leanne and I were about 6 miles into an 18 miler on cross-country ski trails at Blacktail when it happened. We were in the middle of animated conversation and laughter, and both of us suddenly stopped. Leanne asked, "What kind of animal is that?" My brain was running through the list - bear, dog, deer, coyote, etc. Finally, we both arrived at the same conclusion - MOUNTAIN LION! It was more scared of us than we were of it. It took off running, not so gracefully as I would expect. It was big, with a very long tail.

We quickly turned around and headed in the opposite direction, feeling excited and freaked out. We took another logging road that took us deeper into a dark wooded area. That's when we started seeing regular lion tracks, then bear tracks, then bear poop, then lion scat, and then fresh lion scat. By this time, we decided we'd shown enough bravery for the day, risks outweighing the beauty of the trail, and turned around. We did get our 18 miles done on an alternative route, and were pleased with the adventure. My family had mixed feelings about the whole encounter - especially my sister who has decided I've gone completely insane.

The North Face Sailfin hydration pack was awesome once I got it situated. There's a couple internal storage pockets big enough to hold a small first aid kit and gels. I also used a camping stuff sack for food, S-caps, and PB&J sandwich that fit nicely under the bungee cord. I think a rain jacket or pullover would carry well there too. The 50 oz. bladder was just enough for today, but we'll have to plan future training routes around a vehicle to refill.

Last, my asthma is completely out of control. Probably due to allergies, and maybe stress, but I have a feeling it's contributing to the low energy and insomnia. Running today was tough, and the aftermath coughing and burning is worse. I've got to see the doctor this month anyway, and will get it checked out.

And, I forgot to post this last week - congratulations on the new job, Melissa!


Danni said...

OH MY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Meghan said...

Oh holy wowness, Iris! I'm glad the lion did exactly what it was supposed to do by taking off. I'm also glad you two did the right things, by not running away and by leaving the area.

You're totally right, though. If you're out and about in the woods most days, sooner or later you're going to see all the animals.

I have three times seen a mountain lion, twice while running, once while hiking. It's a powerful experience, seeing the tangible evidence that you are not the highest point on the food chain. Also, it's so powerful because the presence of big predators is an indicator of ecosystem health.

Wow! Thanks for sharing your experience.


Iris said...

Danni - we were wishing you had been with us!

Meghan - this was definitely a first for me, and I'm relieved it turned out as well as it did. Also, I'm so excited to hear about the TransRockies race. Leanne and I were just talking about how excited that would be!