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Posted on 2005.10.10 at 22:26
so the top definition here is about the closest explanation i have for "wtf i was thinking".

a few people got the extended version last night, but here's what i'd like to share first in this medium.


i stopped driving and decided to set out on foot somewhere off of the 166 freeway between pismo beach and bakersfield. this is a semi-arid place, light foresting, but a lot of it still looks like desert.

every rib i took in school for wearing the boy scout uniform was worth it, because by my first night out there i'd found a freshwater spring and constructed myself shelter under a large pine tree. hadn't eaten anything, but i wasn't really hungry.

sleep was fitful, as it was cold out and i was wearing cutoff "shants" and a t-shirt. usually i woke up about every 2 hours or so, refluffed my grass/pine-needle bed, and went back to sleep.

on the second night, i did this and then noticed three animals in my shelter with me, roughly house-cat-sized. one of them sort-of-meowed; sounded like it had the worst sore throat on record. i thought for a moment-

. o O (ok, these are either feral cats, raccoons, or skunks. so i need to either not worry, be cautious, or exercise EXTREME F***ING CARE.)

but they didn't hassle me, so i poured them out a bit of my water supply into a tin cup i'd found and went back to sleep.

woke up again as scheduled- now there are 6 of them. still mildly nervous, but they're still leaving me alone, so whatever.

wake up again and dawn is approaching- i was in a valley so i couldn't see the sun yet, but the sky overhead was a few hues lighter. there are now, at closest count, a dozen of these small animals roaming around the floor/on top of my lean-to/in the branches of my shelter tree.

. o O (wtmf is going on here?)

then i look outside the shelter and there are two more animals, these closer to the size of the police k9 german shepherds. one of them stands up and i see that it has a long tail and is moving in a very... feline... manner...

this had just sunk in when the one i'd decided was Dad turned to look at me. he was smooth black from head to tail, the kind of absorbent black you imagine a black hole looks like; no light escapes.

then he opened his eyes and stared into mine, and looking into those golden orbs with the black slits felt like i was in a stare-down contest with god himself. if he'd wanted to, he could have reached a paw out and placed it on my shoe without getting up.

i remembered handling my pet snake- Nervousness and its big brother Fear mean you are Food. so i sat there motionless, eyes locked with this animal, for what was probably 5-10 minutes but felt like half an hour.

after that it apparently decided i was neither breakfast nor a threat, and turned away again.

i decided i was safe, rolled over, and succeeded in going back to sleep after another half-hour or so. (make no mistake; whatever i was projecting, there was a low-level animal part of my brain that was saturated with the kind of terror that empties bowels.)

i wake up again and it's daylight. the shelter is empty. i look outside and Dad is still there, facing away from me- Mom and all the kids are gone.

not wanting to alarm him in any way, i decide verbal communication rather than movement is probably the wise choice here.

"what's up, cat?"

he turns his gaze on me again for a few moments- then he stands and near-silently pad, pad, pads away.

as near as i can tell, that is how i babysat for, and was subsequently bodyguarded by, a family of mountain lions.


jinni_x at 2005-10-11 05:47 (UTC) (Link)
Oh, my. Glad you're not lunch meat :)
Little Etoile
littleetoile at 2005-10-11 06:13 (UTC) (Link)
Black cat...? What type of wild black cats do we have around here? Crazy...

Glad you're safe, regardless.
Generation Y's Howard Beale
dk at 2005-10-12 02:05 (UTC) (Link)
this was actually in a remote part of central california- but yup, we've got mountain lions/cougars/panthers/whatever else they refer to really-f'ing-big-cats as. :)
r2w at 2005-10-11 07:09 (UTC) (Link)
glad you made it out in one piece, it's good to have you back.
True Neutral Elf Ranger Cleric
ratkrycek at 2005-10-11 10:21 (UTC) (Link)
I think that's the coolest thing I've read in awhile. I love cats. Especially mountain lions.

Sounds like you handled it the right way; knowing me, I'd have tried to befriend them! Whether or not it would have worked would be another story. I like how you gave them water. :)

Where were you? I think you're pretty lucky indeed to have seen them, and had them around you. What a gift.

Mind if I share this sory with others, maybe link it on my LJ, or just tell my nature loving friends about it if you'd prefer?

What an amazing experience. Thank you for sharing it.
Generation Y's Howard Beale
dk at 2005-10-12 08:44 (UTC) (Link)
i learned after the fact that i was about 5 miles away from this town.

you can assume that anything i make public is sharable with whoever you'd like. :)
True Neutral Elf Ranger Cleric
ratkrycek at 2005-10-14 21:19 (UTC) (Link)
Sounds like you did the right thing, too, at least according to WikiPedia.

I've long loved mountain lions. We have a deer problem (too many deer) here in Jamestown and one of my suggestions would be to introduce a pack of mountain lions to the island, but I doubt our town fathers (and mothers!) would look too kindly upon that. ;)

I've just always thought they were gorgeous, since I was young. I had a poster of one over my bed when I was a kid. Read a story in college about a guy who had one as a pet (he got donations of day-past ground beef, etc., from local stores, as I recall - it was a big feeding job!)
moonchyld1 at 2005-10-11 15:00 (UTC) (Link)
wow! that is so crazy... glad it worked out okay...

hehe, if it were me, i probably would have played with the little ones and ended up getting my head bitten off.. ;)
ice_9 at 2005-10-11 15:10 (UTC) (Link)
dood, didn't you learn anything from Harold and Kumar? find the biggest cat, smoke him out, ride him back to civilization.

but, umm, seriously, that's nuts. i was a boy scout, too, and mountain lions are very large and pretty damn frightening when they're not in a cage.
Generation Y's Howard Beale
dk at 2005-10-12 02:09 (UTC) (Link)
haha- i still need to see that movie.

mountain lions are very large and pretty damn frightening when they're not in a cage.

definitely. there's something very different about them when they're not kept in captivity either, there was a whole different kind of energy about these animals than what you see at the zoo.
redstickman at 2005-10-11 16:23 (UTC) (Link)
dude. glad you're ok.

brandywine93 at 2005-10-11 16:55 (UTC) (Link)
wow!!! THat is AMAZING! glad you're ok - but wow. sounds like quite the experience. in a very good way :-)
alceria at 2005-10-11 18:23 (UTC) (Link)
Some people would just settle with being rasied by wolves. :) I think you should go back and live with them, then you can write a book and get famous, like a urban version of Jane Goodall.

That is the coolest fucking thing I've read on LJ in ages.

Mountain lions come in black? My first thought reading through was that was panthers.
Generation Y's Howard Beale
dk at 2005-10-12 02:12 (UTC) (Link)
I think you should go back and live with them, then you can write a book and get famous, like a urban version of Jane Goodall.

hahah- that might fall under the category of Pushing My F'ing Luck. :>

Mountain lions come in black? My first thought reading through was that was panthers.

i couldn't see the kittens that well when it was dark, but i could tell they were pretty much an assortment of colors/patterns. "Mom" was light-colored with some dark spotting. i think that mountain lions/panthers/jaguars/cougars/etc may all be different names for the same or very similar creatures?
mortaine at 2005-10-14 18:28 (UTC) (Link)
Mountain lions are tan/tawny. They are the same as cougars and pumas. The thing I always notice in pictures of them is that their tail is much larger and fuller than the sleek line of other cats.

"Panther" is apparently a name used for any large wild cat that's all black (here) and breeds true, though not consistently, which is why the cubs were an assortment.

Jaguars are spotted big cats, more likely to be in much warmer climate than Central CA.

So... jaguar or mountain lion? Which do you think it was?
Generation Y's Howard Beale
dk at 2005-10-14 18:41 (UTC) (Link)
ah, that's right. i should have remebered the story of how the jaguar got his spots from my old kipling books. ok, well they very definitely weren't that.

the top picture in the first link you pasted is pretty close to what Mom looked like.

dad was black just like the 2nd link, but i feel like his nose wasn't so strong/pronounced, though i guess that could be variations w/in the species just like humans.

jaguars are mostly found in africa (warmer climate, as you mention), aren't they? & mountain lions are known to be common throughout california, so i'm sure they were the latter.
mortaine at 2005-10-14 19:27 (UTC) (Link)
Jaguars are mostly found in Central and South America, Mexico, and the Southwest US. So it's not impossible that they would be as far north as Cuyuga, but unlikely. [Leopards=Africa]
fre at 2005-10-11 20:13 (UTC) (Link)
that is absolutely fucking nuts.
Things Gone and Things Still Here
jette at 2005-10-12 14:16 (UTC) (Link)
Beautiful story. It's almost like you were in some alternative version of Narnia. Which, you kind of were.

swallowing shadows to give birth to myself
eamajyn at 2005-10-12 16:22 (UTC) (Link)
That is incredible.
Talk about perspective on your place in the world.
This may sound strange, but I'm really very happy for you to have had such an experience.

Hope you are doing alright.
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