We've hike hundreds if not thousands of miles on trails and backroads. One of the great adventures in life is to take the road unknown and just follow it. We drove into Fort Bragg on Sat morning and there were all kinds of blocked off fire and logging roads. Todd was just sure at the end of one of those roads was a good fishing stream. I was sure a walk through the redwood and ferns would satify my need to explore. Walking down one of these roads was on the day 2 agenda of our weekend.
All our hikes start pretty much the same, grabbing a bottle of water, camera in my pocket, leash on Sam The Dog, OK he's a city dog. Don't want him chasing off after some creature in the forest. Only other car in the pull off area had Montana license plates
Plan is just to walk until we find a stream, or to stop if no stream in a mile or 2.
We walk mostly about a mile or so and Todd stops to take a leak. I walk a bit farther with Sam The Dog still on the leash, then stop and wait. Todd shares with me words no hiking partner likes to hear,"Hey honey, while I was back taking a leak, I saw some tracks in the dirt, but they look old."
I think, "Too much information, no need to share." Then say, "Oh what did they look like?"
He says,"Oh,old animal tracks with claw marks."
She says "Oh." She is wishing at this point the information had not been shared. We walk in silence. Sam is in the lead as usual, marking the way so we don't get lost on our way back up the hill.
About a football length down the road, there is rustling of to the left, then a low growl, more rustling and a louder, longer, lower growl. He hears the growl, not the rustling, she hears the rustling, short growl, more closer rustling, then the longer, lower growl.
We stop and look at each other, look in the direction of the rustling and growling and decide the hike is over.
We see nothing, no movement in the buses. Sam is clueless, not a bark or growl from him.
We turn around walk slowly, look over our shoulder everyone once and a while.
Stop where the track is. Take a picture.
Look over our shoulder, walk uphill, see the gate, and breathe a sigh of relief.
We've seen too many episodes of Wild Kingdom and Nat Geo to not recognize the sound, the long low growl of a mountain lion protecting it's turf and prey. We thank whatever dead critter we surmise the lion was protecting.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, in this case, the growl was worth a a thousand thanks. No pict needed.
PS The tracks appear to have been dog tracks. Mountain lions don't normally have their claws extended.