Thursday, June 19, 2008

Watcher Among the Rocks

It's not yet officially summer, but you don't need a calendar to tell you it's hot. I spied this family cooling off yesterday in the stream beyond the bridge north of the JPL parking lot. (Click on the photo to enlarge it.)

The stream's a safe place for a family during daylight hours, even considering the fact that a mountain lion was photographed mere yards from this spot in January. In drought time, deer and small animals come farther downhill for water, and predators come after them. But it's rare for mountain lions (aka cougars) to attack humans. They don't like to mess with people. As one person said in an online discussion about going for a run near where the JPL cougar was sighted, "Some folks take pepper spray...but that is as much for roaming big dogs and looney people as cougars or bears."

I think I was very close to a cougar once. High on the Sam Merrill Trail I came upon a dead fawn. I stopped to examine it; there was no visible wound and the animal was newly dead. I wondered about that until my brain said, "Ack!"—meaning the fawn was prey, and the predator was most likely watching in the nearby brush for me to move on—which I did. When I passed again on my way down twenty minutes later the path was clear, but the underbrush was disturbed where the carcass had been dragged up the hillside.

It's good to be vigilant. Sometimes when I'm walking with Boz, I wonder who's watching us from high among the rocks.

14 comments:

USelaine said...

The sight and smell of Boz (if he'll forgive me for saying so) should be somewhat protective. I worry about my mom - she has seen them twice while walking around her, admittedly wild, place. I've seen them twice from the safety of my vehicle on her neighbor's property. Beautiful but deadly.

Jim said...

Shoot, I am afraid of walking up on a snake. I would walk the trails out there like Dorothy, Scarecrow and the Tin Man.

Katie said...

Hot today up here too - this looks like the perfect place to have cooled off! I second's Jim's view that it would be a bit scary to walk this trail knowing there are big cats in the area. I think I'd carry a very big stick!

Palm Axis said...

I share the same thought when I'm on the trails. The idea of being watched. Thinking about you coming across a fresh kill gives me the chills. Were you alone?

Palm Axis said...

Did I mention that the cattle industry of La Canada is no more? I think the my Angus friends met the grill.

Petrea said...

I think Boz will take it as a compliment, Elaine. But gee, I always thought he'd be a tasty little morsel to a cougar. I feel protective of him when we're out in the canyons.

I saw a big cat once at Hahamongna, but nobody believes me. I'm more scared of snakes like you, Jim. Probably because I'm foolish (unlike you, Jim).

Katie, the trails are well-traveled. You might see a cat at dawn or at night, but it's unusual.

I was alone, Palm, and now that I think about it I get chills, too. I don't remember the time of day, but I'm sure there were others on the trail (now that I think about it, this nullifies what I said to Katie). It had to have been a brazen (or starving) cat, waiting near the trail to take its moment between hikers. Pretty odd, really. But don't worry about me - the fate of your Angus friend was worse.

USelaine said...

Okay, Google says this is in San Marino: "Rancho Vasquez Incorporated". Cattle.

freefalling said...

And people reckon Australia is dangerous!

Knoxville Girl said...

Your aha moment about the cougar gave me chills. We have black bears, copperheads, and ralttlesnakes (oh my!) to contend with in our mountains, but making a lot of noise usually works - they really don't want to be around people.
And who's watching? Probably another CDPB photographer, that's who! lol :)

Kelly said...

I didn't even notice the people right off, and when I did, I had to rethink the scale. I like this shot, Petrea! You may have heard that police recently killed a mountain lion in the City of Chicago. There have been rumors of them in our area for years, but no confirmed sightings.

Petrea said...

USElaine: I'll go by and see if there's a photo op. Hopefully they're fully-operational cows (i.e., not a meat packing plant). Not that that's not a photo op.

Why, Australia's as gentle as a breeze, isn't it, Letty? Safe as pie? I don't know what I'm saying.

Noise is good, Knoxville Girl. We get the rattlers, too, but they rattle to scare you off, and that warning should be heeded! It's a good system.

I think I did hear that, Kelly. Was it within the last 18 months or so? So odd, after all my growing up in Illinois, to know those creatures might have been there. Or maybe it's a more recent migration. Our encroachment on their territory has sent them searching.

Petrea said...

No, more recently, I see! My husband sent me this article from April:

http://tinyurl.com/48p8xj

Petrea said...

What's sad about the article is that it seems Chicago police are unequipped; generally around here an animal like this would be shot with a tranquilizing gun if possible, then transported to the wilds. But in Chicago you just don't get mountain lions, so you don't have tranqs.

What's shocking about it is that cat was in the city. Not the suburbs. Not the edge of town. He/she had to have been a pet.

Dina said...

Oi veh! Maybe we solo hikers should stick together.
You be careful, Lone Ranger.