Mountain lions are wonderful and majestic creatures, but you don’t want to see one perched and ready to pounce on you from about 10 feet away. That’s exactly what happened to two hikers at Sequoia National Park’s High Sierra Trail, and their firsthand video of the encounter is surely one of the most goosebump-inducing videos in which (thankfully) nothing actually happens that I have ever watched.
The video gives you the feeling of a wild animal encounter that at first feels lucky, until you realize the deadly creature has just outwitted you and turned you into possible prey. The two hikers first see the magnificent beast about 20 yards ahead of them on the trail, and the lion hightails it away. But at about the :40 mark, the hikers realize the mountain lion has determined their path and repositioned itself into prime attacking position from above. This is followed by a tense standoff wherein the hikers can be heard nervously asking, “What are we supposed to do?”
While the video is only two minutes long, the standoff lasted much longer. “For a good 20 to 25 minutes, we tried to scare it, to make noise,” rattled hiker Brian McKinney told the Associated Press. “It just looked at us.”
The incident actually occurred on July 23, the AP notes, but that doesn’t make it any less scary. According to a separate AP report, the two men actually recorded goodbye videos to their loved ones before hiking the next day, assuming the predator was still tracking them.
The National Park Service insists the hikers did the right thing by not running away. “The big thing these visitors did right was that they didn’t panic and run, even after they were surprised by seeing the mountain lion perched above them,” wildlife biologist Daniel Gammons said in a statement from the service. “Probably the most important message to get out to visitors is not to act like prey if they encounter a mountain lion.”
Now two weeks later, the two hikers can look back and laugh. “"When we started the trip, we sort of jokingly said, 'Wouldn't it be great if we saw the trifecta of a rattlesnake, a bear and a mountain lion?' " McKinney told the AP. "And sure enough, we got our wish."
Next time, guys, wish for hummingbirds or arrowheads.