Thunderf00t vs The Mountain Lion


The sun was fully down and the full moon just risen (12 Aug 2011) when I was up by the tripod some 10 meters from the car.  The camera was running a timelapse near dusk, but the battery was low so I was just changing it.   It was there that I heard a  twig break nearby on the far side of the clearing. Instantly that was out of the ordinary, and got my attention REAL fast. I can hear nothing else, and that makes me even more nervous:- no creature ambling through the brush, the night hunters are at work. I have no torch on me, and no weapon (normally I carry both a torch and a big ass knife, which in the event of you not being killed outright is enough to put some pretty respectable sized holes in a cat). But I have neither. I have the camera, and now that I think about it, I should have grabbed the tripod too, but I didn’t. Keeping myself fixed towards where the sound was I made my way cautiously back to the car, brandishing the 2000 dollar camera n lens as just a big metal lump (strange how the value of objects can be changed by merely the snapping of a twig in a clearing on a  quiet night up). On getting back to the car, I quickly rummaged around and got a knife, and flashlight. I panned it around the clearing to see two bright green sapphire eyes looking back at me from behind a log. It had come up on me from where I first heard it on the far side of the clearing. It could only have been about 10 meters. Then behind it I saw a second pair of eyes, as green as the first, but smaller, and further off. Green eyes are cats eyes, and from the separation and the distance I could tell this was a big cat. After watching me for a few seconds I saw it turn off into the trees. I didn’t like that at all: all the time I could see it, I knew what the score was. A big cat out of sight, thats more of a worry.
I fumbled around for a video camera, but by that time they eyes had gone and again I was ‘alone in the quiet’. After that I was reluctant to leave the car. Mountain lions are ambush hunters, and the car was awkwardly positioned such that getting out was ‘vunerable’. I slept the night away, and in the morning went looking for tracks. Turns out there was a deer path that went along side the opening, and sure enough, there were mountain lion tracks there, further they tracked up towards the tripod.

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20 Responses to “Thunderf00t vs The Mountain Lion”

  1. reader22610226 Says:

    Ive come across mountain lions on the paths behind Santa Barbara. Twice I was lucky I wasnt attacked. One was lurking right above us at a hot spring with all of us in the pool. Very scary.

  2. Jim Says:

    Get yourself some bear spray….. Might help…

  3. Anonymous Says:

    Glad you weren’t hurt. carry a knife at all times in the bush, even when you think its safe.

  4. Marlo Rocci Says:

    Stop acting like food.

  5. Anonymous Says:

    If it wasnt for the twig,the lion would of crept up behind you and before you knew anything it would of had its fangs into your jugular.

  6. Anonymous Says:

    T foot in the Lions den.

  7. HAXO Says:

    IM GLAD YOU’RE NOT EATEN!!! You are a much better blogger and youtuber than you are dinner. Glad to see you are okay!

  8. Kirils Korolovs Says:

    That is a beautiful place!!

  9. Justin Says:

    That’s a pretty intense feeling, isn’t it!? I once went to Alaska with my grandfather when I was just fourteen or so and I will never forget what happened along the way.

    As someone who grew up in the woods, I felt and still feel confident in those surroundings. However, the spot in which I had found myself on my trip to Alaska was deep forest, the kind in which if one were to climb to the top of one of the mountains it would extend forever, mountain top after mountain top of manless, empty, thick, savage nothing. The kind with grizzly bears that is purported to have man beasts as tall as ten feet. The kind where one gets that notion of oblivion.

    We had been sailing for about a month and had long past the San Juan islands and even the biggest city between Canada and Alaska, Victoria, by several weeks.

    At one particular location along the way, which if you know as a stretch of Pacific ocean is full of thousands of islands all the way up to Alaska, a spot in which the islands shoot straight up out of the ocean a thousand times until mountain, we had stopped in an abandoned town.

    The dock was empty except for the caretaker’s boat and our own. To get to the abandoned town, which was no more than maybe fifteen shack houses and like buildings, a path had to be taken which was steep uphill and, like the paths between the shanty houses, overgrown with tall grasses.

    We had a camcorder with us and the intention was not just to see the small town, where the caretaker had been living and along with him some young fellow from a neighboring town, but actually to continue on up further into the country to get a sighting of one of those trees through which a car could drive if a hole were cut through its trunk.

    Since it was too far, my grandfather decided to head back to the boat after the recording of the town and some words with the old, beared man, who by the sight and attitude seemed a kind of eccentric hippy.

    As I made my way up the trail, I came to a lake. I’ll never forget it either. The entire thing extended like any other landlock of water that is called a lake, flat and distances outward; though, unlike any other lake I had ever seen, was perfect in clarity. Had I taken the small row boat out from the broken and half sunken dock on to the lake, I could have gone to any point and seen all the way to the bottom. It was perfect glass. And, after an uncountable number of minutes, serenity multiplied a thousand times, I saw not a single fish in all the depth and expanse of the motionless body. Not one.

    Even now, when writing this, I wonder… was it really, “empty?”

    Once I finally made it past the fasciniation of the lake, I headed still further along the trail, and though I have not mentioned until this point, was accompaned all the while by two scrap dogs, capricious and dumb, of course pets of the oldman from below. Well, as I passed the river, which flowed out of the lake, I was bombarded by the noise of the rapid flow of the water, which not far away was a waterfall.

    After taking in the surroundings, I looked around to see where the dogs were, since up until that moment they had all the time been battling each other all around me, disappearing sporadically in some or other brush and just as abruptly appearing again, snarling and half biting at each other, no doubt wrestling out the excitement of someone young and new being there.

    Unfortunately, though I looked and waited, they weren’t coming back, and I started wondering why they had disappeared indefinitely and despite the rush of the river why everything seemed so imposingly silent. And, with the deafing sound of the rushing water and the slow realization of myself and my vulnerability, and that perhaps the dogs ahd disappeared because of a bear, I started sensing that I was in grave danger, wondering at the same time what my recourse would be should something jump out from behind the tangled walls of thick greenery and woods.

    And, at that moment, I started getting that spooky, eerie feeling that I was not alone, and that something might be stalking me. That feeling that pervades your entire body.

    In fact I was so freaked out that my instinct was to run. And, that’s what I did.

    Of course, we all know that bears are fast runners, able to accelerate as fast as 17 kilometers an hour, and that one’s only real hope of survival in an attack is to play dead and hope the bear gets bored. We of course later spotted bears along our way to Alaska on the shores of the small islands.

    Though it is foolish from our comfy armchairs, in those circumstanes, if you think you are about to die, your body overwhelms your capacity for wisdom and the best action seems to get out.

    I’ll never know if there was anything there, or why those dogs just disappeared like that, but wow, that was the farthest from civilization that I have ever been and I suspect that it is was as vulnerable a feelings as can be produced.

    Not fun being in the face of death, even if it is just imagined.

  10. Anonymous Says:

    Don’t turn your back to the cat ……face it, back away slowly, and be as big as you can.
    Unlikely to be attacked straight on, cougars (mountain lions) prefer to have surprise on their side.

  11. vwolf Says:

    Clearly you are too delicious, TF.

  12. Gerrie Warner Says:

    I wonder about the time lapse thing. Do you take intermintent shorts and edit them together or long complete takes?

  13. Anonymous Says:

    happy your OK, seems to me the places you thought were cat tracks were too small. and I believe deer eyes reflect green or gold as well. not having been there I’ll take your word about it because it’s no doubt you were in cat country.

  14. Atheist in FundyLand Says:

    I live near where you had this encounter. We take the presence of mountain lions for granted here. We have a LOT of them, even in the lower elevations. Attacks, however, are EXTREMELY rare. In fact I don’t believe there have been any attacks on humans in Tuolumne County. Mountain lions are unbelievably elusive and easily spooked. They eat deer, not people.

    Count yourself lucky! I’ve lived here my whole life and I’ve only ever seen mountain lions my father treed with his hounds. Mountain lions will occasionally eat livestock (especially llamas and sheep) and my father was charged with eliminating lions that engaged in this behavior.

    When I was younger, I got very near cornered lions and felt no fear. Today I have more fear of men who hit on me in elevators at 4 a.m. 😉

    You were probably in ZERO danger, but I can’t blame you for feeling a bit uncomfortable.

    By the way, it’s spelled S-O-N-O-R-A.

    Email me if you want a free lunch or dinner.

  15. Anonymous Says:

    Now we need to do an experiment, are atheists more apetising than theists.

    Maybe dip Tfoot and Shaun in BBQ sauce and leave them at 9,000 feet, see who makes it through the night. Maybe have an agnostic as a control?

  16. Marlo Rocci Says:

    What’s the inverse of “stop playing with your food”?

  17. Twunt Says:

    I think cougars kill by getting their jaws around your neck choking you. Do you think there’s a mountain lion around with a mouth big enough to get around your neck? 😉

  18. Anonymous Says:

    Hey Thunderf00t!,

    I read and enjoy your blog and YT daily. Wonderful stuff!

    I’ve been meaning to ask you this since you started your cross country trek earlier this summer and I watched your vids of you in the mountains. Have you considered purchasing and carrying a firearm for protection? I would never go into the mountains along without one.

    Stay safe.

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