Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Death Is My Neighbour

Cougar closeup

Experts say that when you're out in the rough, you're often within 20 feet of a cougar and don't know it. This means a guy like me, who's spent much of his life in the woods, has been in that position many times.

That's hundreds of moments I might already have been dead, but for the judgement of a ruthless, unstoppable panther.

If that ain't a Zen teaching, I don't know what is.

(Adapted from 100 Days on the Mountain, copyright RK Henderson. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons and a generous photographer.)


  1. I hope your back was up against a tree. Many times I have meditated in the wilds thinking if I'm making a good target for Cougar.

  2. Me too. And in fact, though I sat under a tree, my back was not against it, and I was in fact a perfect snack for Hello Kitty. In reality they very rarely attack people, but I kept thinking as I sat, that they very rarely encounter them sitting still in the middle of nowhere for hours at a time day after day, too.

  3. This is so true. I hike a lot here in the Southern Oregon/Northern California woods. I occasionally see a cougar, but more often just their signs. A few time I have come across warm poop, once steaming in the cold, fall, air.

    Another time I was hiking with a group and was well behind them taking photos. As I started up again, I actually saw a mountain lion a ways ahead of me that was on the uphill side of the trail. It appeared to be interested in the line of 6 or 7 hikers that had just passed by. As soon as I took a few more steps it heard me even though it must have been 50 yards away. I bounded up the hill and was gone. So they are there, watching you, maybe looking for the straggler? Or maybe just watching for watching sake.

  4. Well, Will, they can't be of a hunting mindset about us very often or we'd be getting pooped out much more frequently than we do, instead of almost never. I've actually never seen one, but have been very close to them, in the situations you describe. And I was once just yards away from a cougar killing a deer. They were in a thick alder brake, and I couldn't see anything through the bush, but both animals were screaming at the top of their lungs and bashing big alders back and forth like they were bulrushes as they ran around. The dumb part of me wanted to move closer for a look, but the rest of me turned me around and walked me back to the house. (This all happened across the road from my mail box.)

    Thanks for the comment!


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