Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Two Sierra hikers and a mountain lion had a tense staredown. It lasted 20 minutes

The National Parks Service confirmed the sighting of a mountain lion by two hikers last week in Sequoia National Park. The animal was spotted by two hikers from San Luis Obispo County, who were on the first day of an 11-day backpacking trip on the High Sierra Trail, east of Crescent Meadow to Mount Whitney in Sequoia National Forest. The parks service said there was no interaction between the hikers and the animal and that the hikers behaved properly by not running when they spotted the the big cat. “They didn’t panic and run even after they were surprised by seeing the mountain lion perched above them,” said Daniel Gammons, a wildlife biologist for the Parks Service. “Probably the most important message to get out to visitors is not to act like prey if they encounter a mountain lion.”  The backpackers described the mountain lion as bigger than a Great Dane and “rippled with muscles.” “I was not sure what the cat was going to do and thought, ‘It could jump, and it might jump on us,’ ” said Brian McKinney, a project manager for a software company who lives in Atascadero. He and his trail partner, Sam Vonderheide, a math teacher at Arroyo Grande High School, survived the encounter and completed their hike to the top of the mountain. They returned home Thursday with a harrowing story and video proof...more

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