Rob's Blog Archive

May 12, 2013

My First Mountain Lion










Springtime in Boulder, Colorado, featured extremes in weather.  We always had a couple of days in the mid eighties followed by a couple of days of snow.  Warm and cold days intermix in Montana, too, but nothing like I experienced in Colorado’s Front Range.  We still haven’t broken eighty here, and chances of more snow are slim and none. 

The contrast between my personal highs and lows this spring has reminded me of spring in Colorado.  I’m excited about adding a lot of skijoring to next winter’s syllabus.  I’m dealing with Ghost’s continuing back issues---these are compounded by his being blind.  I’ve got two 13 year olds who are doing great.  I’m enjoying my writing.  I still have to sell more pieces, otherwise I’m going to fail as a writer---if I don’t make some progress soon, I will have to readjust my perspective.  

And, on the list of this spring’s highs, my jogging has started out great.

My first run, a treadmill two miler, felt easier than anything I had done in a decade.  Given that I had run exactly one time during the entire winter, my runs will only get easier and faster.  What is clear is that my weight loss since the middle of November, just over ten pounds, is making a huge difference,

While I started on the treadmill, most of my runs have been outdoors.  I tolerate treadmills, for that matter any stationary device, well.  However, once there’s good weather, I’m going to be out on roads and trails.  

My favorite run goes to the highway and back.  This lets me watch geese and stare at the Swan Range all while horses run in the pastures I pass through.  It’s not hard to make a decision between this and the treadmill.

The onset of warm days hasn’t hurt my motivation, either.  The one part of me that is still Southern California is that I enjoy running in the heat.  I have memories of heading out on runs from the gym at Caltech onto the streets of San Marino, temperature around ninety, wearing nothing but running shorts, sun on my back and my long hair---I shit you not---bouncing on my shoulders.  Breaking a hard sweat running on a sunny day, particularly when I’m feeling strong, brings me back to my youth.

And so with the first warm day last week, I decided to try a long comfortable jog, to Fawn Creek and back.  Including my driveway, it’s 3.5 miles.  This was actually the run I did mid-winter—it was roughly in the mid twenties then. 

The route doesn’t pack quite the aesthetic punch per mile as running to the highway and back, but it still has pastures and forest and a great view of the Swans.  And, at 3.5 miles, I can delude myself into believing it is long slow day training---slow for sure and close to long. 

The flaw in my plan was that I timed it with the sunset.  It may have been in the mid seventies at four in the afternoon, but by eight, when I ran, it was sixty and dropping.  With this, running was comfortable, but that was with a shirt on and barely breaking a sweat.  Not exactly mid-summer in Pasadena.

But just as yin and yang balance, the sunset gave me two gifts.  I was just about at the turn-around point when motion just across the bridge caught my eye.  It lasted just a second---an adult mountain lion loped across the road.  Its red brown coat looked luxuriant as it ran, long tail out behind it.  After an instant, it was gone.

Mountain lion attacks on people are exceedingly rare, and it’s very size dependent.  At 172 lb, I am way out of range.  And I’m guessing this cat was doing just fine on its preferred prey, deer.

I continued to the bridge, crossed just to the far bank of the creek, then turned and started jogging back.  The road passes by several pastures on its western side, through wetland and forest, then breaks out into clearings.  In those clearings, nothing cuts off the view of the Swans and this lets the grandeur of the peaks stand out.   I had timed the run perfectly---the red brown of the cougar was replaced by the red gold of alpenglow on the Swan Range.

Just after I jogged past the clearings, I came across Becky and Maximus, her chocolate lab.  They had been the ones who introduced me to the run last January.  I mentioned the cat to Becky---she rationally knows it’s not a threat to either her or her dog---cutoff for dogs is about 25 lb---but she grimaced, nevertheless.  We continued chatting.  The time this took resulted in the run taking even longer than I had planned.  That’s okay.  That run was always meant to be about timing rather than time and that, I nailed. 

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