Two Lions Near Lily Lake Trailhead

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Dubdub
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Two Lions Near Lily Lake Trailhead

Postby Dubdub » Mon Sep 17, 2012 2:27 pm

My friend Tyler and I set out Friday (Sept. 14th) to climb Mount Lindsey. We left Amarillo, Texas, at 6:30 hoping to drive straight to Lily Lake trailhead. We entered the San Isabel Forest and started up the washboard road at about 11:45/11:50 on Friday night. Just before midnight, and perhaps 4 or 5 miles below the trailhead, two mountain lions jumped from the driver‘s side (left) ditch, about 10 yards in front of our vehicle. I understand that most lions travel and hunt alone, and it is likely that the traveling pair were a mother and yearling cub. However, I was unable to observe a difference in size between the two. I was impressed with the lions ability to leap and run so effortlessly and smooth. Additionally, we were surprised about how thick their tails and stature were. These were the first lions either one of us have seen in the wild. We intended to be the first ones up the trailhead on Saturday morning; I admit our imaginations may have prevailed.
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SilverLynx
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Re: Two Lions Near Lily Lake Trailhead

Postby SilverLynx » Mon Sep 17, 2012 2:34 pm

Dubdub wrote:My friend Tyler and I set out Friday (Sept. 14th) to climb Mount Lindsey. We left Amarillo, Texas, at 6:30 hoping to drive straight to Lily Lake trailhead. We entered the San Isabel Forest and started up the washboard road at about 11:45/11:50 on Friday night. Just before midnight, and perhaps 4 or 5 miles below the trailhead, two mountain lions jumped from the driver‘s side (left) ditch, about 10 yards in front of our vehicle. I understand that most lions travel and hunt alone, and it is likely that the traveling pair were a mother and yearling cub. However, I was unable to observe a difference in size between the two. I was impressed with the lions ability to leap and run so effortlessly and smooth. Additionally, we were surprised about how thick their tails and stature were. These were the first lions either one of us have seen in the wild. We intended to be the first ones up the trailhead on Saturday morning; I admit our imaginations may have prevailed.

I bet you're glad you saw them from the safety of your car! That is really neat but it does creep me out a little, knowing I've been hiking in that area. I've never seen a mountain lion, but who knows how many mountain lions have seen me! What a cool animal to see in the wild though.
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Dubdub
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Re: Two Lions Near Lily Lake Trailhead

Postby Dubdub » Mon Sep 17, 2012 2:41 pm

For each lion we see, I have heard ten see us. Thus, the name, "ghost of the Rockies."
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tenpins
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Re: Two Lions Near Lily Lake Trailhead

Postby tenpins » Mon Sep 17, 2012 3:42 pm

Dubdub wrote:For each lion we see, I have heard ten see us. Thus, the name, "ghost of the Rockies."



I would wager that as well. I know for many animals, their population density is much higher than any of us expect.
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Re: Two Lions Near Lily Lake Trailhead

Postby fleetmack » Mon Sep 17, 2012 3:51 pm

I saw the biggest bear I've ever seen in CO near (exactly?) the same location you describe in mid-July. We also saw a heard of Elk that day and several deer. That place is a haven for wildlife! Glad we saw all this after we woke from camping for the night rather than before! My pictures won't do it just, but nonetheless:

https://sphotos-a.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-prn1/s720x720/528026_609557265570_985520585_n.jpg
https://sphotos-b.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ash3/524189_609558034030_477792460_n.jpg
https://sphotos-b.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-prn1/s720x720/553796_609557644810_1014428813_n.jpg
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Re: Two Lions Near Lily Lake Trailhead

Postby ctlee » Mon Sep 17, 2012 4:54 pm

How cool! And even better you were in your truck! When I first moved to CO I took a class up at RMNP with the wildlife biologists studying lions in the park--they took us to an area I'd been hiking alot in because it seemed closer to town and I was sure there'd be less chance of encountering a lion (I was a little paranoid when I moved here from the Northeast). They showed us how to detect lion sign--kill areas, tracks, etc. Turns out I had been surrounded! They told us it was one of the areas the lions were the most active in--never saw one!! Kind of creeps you out!
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Re: Two Lions Near Lily Lake Trailhead

Postby RoanMtnMan » Mon Sep 17, 2012 11:34 pm

wrchad23 wrote:Wow! Thanks for sharing. My view on Mountain Lions is that I'm too big to attack (for food) but I do worry they'll go after my black lab. I'd hate to stumble on a bear that's for sure!


Not sure I agree. Your dog will have no problem chasing off a CO black bear. Black bears fear dogs, that is why they use them to hunt black bears. Black bears are much less threatening to humans than lions. We just happen to come in contact with lions less often (due to their nature) so they don't get as much bad publicity. If a lion was desperate enough it would take down an NFL linebacker. A 400+lbs elk likely succumbs to a lion everyday in Colorado. If one wants to protect themselves from a lion, get a mule. If one wants to protect themselves from a black bear, get a dog and a rock. This is specific to the lower 48. Things are different when you head north.

And for the record, I love both animals and always put a lot of value on all encounters. Just trying to clear up misconceptions. I can't ever figure out why there is such a fear of the black bear and a reverence for the mountain lion. CO black bears (not Grizzlies) are just giant berry and trash eating dogs. Mountain lions are animals that know how to stalk, chase, and kill for their meat eating diets. That rant complete, the percentage is low that either will attack you. It does happen, but I worry more about the drive and my own mistakes in the mountains.

Dubdub, great story. Surprised that you saw two mature lions together, but it's not unheard of. Nice experience for sure. Where was the camera! I have missed visual documentation of a few encounters as well. Upset about it, but glad I can still speak the verbal accounts! The word graceful always strikes me when I tell a story of them, not sure why, but it seems to fit.
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Re: Two Lions Near Lily Lake Trailhead

Postby Tory Wells » Tue Sep 18, 2012 5:05 am

live4pc wrote:As a hunter out of all of the large predators in North American the mountain lion poses the least threat to humans by quite a wide margine.

Yet in Colorado it is the one large predator that is most likely to kill a hiker. I don't fear black bears on the trail, but I do have a healthy respect for the mountain lions I can't see.
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Re: Two Lions Near Lily Lake Trailhead

Postby Tigerbear » Tue Sep 18, 2012 5:16 am

I was really surprised that colorado had issued over 600 permits this hunting season for mt. lions. I guess there are too many!
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Re: Two Lions Near Lily Lake Trailhead

Postby dnye » Tue Sep 18, 2012 5:52 am

Tigerbear wrote:I was really surprised that colorado had issued over 600 permits this hunting season for mt. lions. I guess there are too many!


I think this also shows how rare it is for a hunter to actually kill a lion.
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Re: Two Lions Near Lily Lake Trailhead

Postby forbins_mtn » Tue Sep 18, 2012 6:05 am

this is one animal i'd love to see in the wild. freaking love CO nature!
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Re: Two Lions Near Lily Lake Trailhead

Postby tbaileymd » Tue Sep 18, 2012 6:07 am

On September 4, four of us are pretty sure we saw one from the top of the first gully on Little Bear. It was down the other side of the gully, about 50 yards down. It was still dark, and it was just at the edge of our lights.

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