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Two Lions Near Lily Lake Trailhead

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Re: Two Lions Near Lily Lake Trailhead

Postby nyker » Wed Sep 19, 2012 10:06 pm

Wow, great sighting...probably best you saw them from a car. Given that there were two, could have been same year siblings or possibly a male/female.

On Sept 4th when I climbed Wilson Peak, I am 98% sure I saw a lion at a bit over 11,000ft in the forest along the Rock of Ages Trail right at the edge of the hill as the road/trail enters a small aspen grove. There had been some deer in the forest/meadow in the morning and I saw the lion in the late afternoon coming down in the same area, but higher. Made the hairs on my neck stand up as I needed to pass this spot to hike down.

It jumped clear over the trail as I was about 100ft away; I wasn't able to get a photo off as my camera was in my pack, so I didn't bother posting, but since you saw two also (different area), maybe they've been more active! I saw the back half of the animal and tail as it darted into the underbrush before it disappeared into the woods. With the exception of a wolverine and lynx, I've seen every other mid-large size animal in the rockies and I can't imagine what else it could have been.

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Re: Two Lions Near Lily Lake Trailhead

Postby unclegar » Wed Sep 19, 2012 11:27 pm

lurker wrote:FWIW: I routinely hike Crosier Peak outside Loveland in the winter and early spring. A few years ago I noticed a lot of signs of a large predator in the area, including the lower leg of an elk in a tree. I usually hike alone so I was partially concerned, that is until two trail runners ran by me. Got to love the predator instinct to chase running prey.


Interesting. I just went up Crosier Mtn. from the Glen Haven trail this spring with two others and when we were returning, there was a deer leg on the trail that was not there on the way up.
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Re: Two Lions Near Lily Lake Trailhead

Postby Dubdub » Thu Sep 20, 2012 8:23 am

Nyker, thanks for sharing. Seeing a lion is something we will never forget. You mentioned the elevation, I have read that the upper lion habitat only extends to 10,000 feet. However, Tyler and I saw those two at 10,000 or just above. I previously believed I was out of their habitat after clearing 10,000; but, it is not like their is an invisible barrier repelling lions at 9,999. There is no shortage of adventure out there...I love it!

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Re: Two Lions Near Lily Lake Trailhead

Postby Neil » Thu Sep 20, 2012 8:31 am

Dubdub wrote:Nyker, thanks for sharing. Seeing a lion is something we will never forget. You mentioned the elevation, I have read that the upper lion habitat only extends to 10,000 feet. However, Tyler and I saw those two at 10,000 or just above. I previously believed I was out of their habitat after clearing 10,000; but, it is not like their is an invisible barrier repelling lions at 9,999. There is no shortage of adventure out there...I love it!


I used to think the same thing -- somewhere around 10,000, I had to be safe! Then I spoke with a Forest Service wildlife specialist about this exact subject. She said that mountain lions don't have a specifici upper-end elevation for habitat. Rather, their habitat in any given area extends as high as the deer population does. Not just the main population, but any deer. So, in short, she concluded that if you see mountain lion prey, assume there are lions.
"On the edge of the porch in the warm evening night
Throwing the bone for the dog I see two passing lights
Well, I wonder where that driver's bound
Is there someone, somewhere, someway out there that I've not found"
-Driving Song

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Re: Two Lions Near Lily Lake Trailhead

Postby nyker » Fri Sep 21, 2012 7:47 pm

Yea, lions are pretty crafty and resilient.

I remember being told once they don't go above 8,000ft by a park worker - when I showed them a photo of footprints at 9,500, they were certain I had mistaken where I had taken the photo (like this is a scam I have to go around and lie about elevations where I saw them).

Basically, where their main food source goes, like live4pc alludes to, that's where they'll be. So if the local deer, weaker elk or sheep/goats for that matter go higher and a cat can follow without exerting too much energy, they will.

Similar to species of fish in the east coast. Most think some species migrate with and due only to the cold water. It is usually the cooler water that triggers baitfish (prey) migration which in turn triggers migration timing of the larger fish. I've caught stripers in the middle of winter from an open beach with snow on the ground when food was still there, when all "authorities" and books said they should have been 1,000 miles south! Bluefish though would usually be gone by this time, since they are bit of a warmer water fish.

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Re: Two Lions Near Lily Lake Trailhead

Postby Jim Davies » Sat Sep 22, 2012 9:11 am

We have always had mountain lions living around the edge of Colorado Springs; every few years they make the news when there's a rash of dog disappearances. Back in the 90's the police shot one a block from my house, since it was sitting in somebody's back yard and children were about to start walking by to an elementary school nearby. Sad.

We saw these tracks this May in Cheyenne Mountain State Park. Definitely lion, based on the shape and toe configuration, according to our later research.
CMSPLionTracks.jpg
CMSPLionTracks.jpg (156.98 KiB) Viewed 588 times
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Re: Two Lions Near Lily Lake Trailhead

Postby tenpins » Sat Sep 22, 2012 11:14 am

Im not a tracker, but I play one in the woods. Im also not a biologist, because I never finished my last semester of my degree because of the fabulous vacation to iraq I received from Uncle Sam. But I know a lot of stuff :-D primary difference b/t cat and dog tracks, besides the claws (cause sometimes cats have their claws out) is the overall shape of the footprint. Canids are generally oval shaped. Felines are round. I think you found you some lion tracks in that picture man. completely awesome.

to share a story; the teaching assistant back in those biology days also worked for the USFS. He did a lot of surveys. He told us once that they were 'cornered' by a mountain lion during a nighttime survey. They could hear it in the scrub oak, and he specifically told us that 'conventional wisdom' said that mountain lions do no come into 'scrub component'. So much for CW. They got a call out and a deputy came to help them get to their cars.

As far as any predator going where their food is....well isnt that obvious? wouldnt you? I can suggest a book given to me in high school; Grizzly Years by doug peacock. He travels the grizzly backcountry for years with few incidents. One of his tactics was to bivouac in the most dense stand of trees and shrub he could find. Not in the meadows where a griz may be rooting for bulbs or rodents, not near a stream where they may come for berries or other food. overall good read

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Re: Two Lions Near Lily Lake Trailhead

Postby Jim Davies » Sat Sep 22, 2012 1:19 pm

I'll second the "Grizzly Years" recommendation - good stuff. I read it back in the 90's on a trip where we were camping on Yellowstone, which probably wasn't a good idea in retrospect. 8-[
Some people are afraid of heights. Not me, I'm afraid of widths. -- Steven Wright

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Re: Two Lions Near Lily Lake Trailhead

Postby carsonaceae » Sun Sep 23, 2012 12:23 am

The book 'Grizzly Years' by Doug Peacock is one of the best works of natural history you will ever read. If you have ever been in and around Glacier National Park, MT, you will know that he readily changes the names of familiar places to those which still can be recognized by the astute observer. It is a good read for those wishing to cultivate their natural history skills. And by the way, Doug Peacock is actually the real-life portrayal of Hayduke, the seminal character of 'The Monkeywrench Gang' by Abbey. They met in Glacier while Abbey as a fire lookout on top of Numa mountain. Their writings are those born only from raw experience...

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Re: Two Lions Near Lily Lake Trailhead

Postby OmahaAdam » Sun Sep 23, 2012 1:55 am

Neil wrote:While the odds make me feel good at home, irrational fear usually wins when I'm alone at 10,000 ft. at 4:00 a.m. 8-[


This!!! lol

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Re: Two Lions Near Lily Lake Trailhead

Postby Tony-DiAngelo » Sun Sep 23, 2012 6:07 am

Always remember that wild life isn't necessarily hunting humans or dogs, they generally attack humans if they have been surprised or caught off guard. That's why I always make noise when hiking. I have yet to see a mountain lion up where I live in the mountains, although my neighbors warned me of one in the area once. The only time I have had encounters with mountain lions is a this place called White Ranch Park. Its a popular hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding system of 19 miles of trails right on the front of the foothills North/West of Golden. My dog and I came within 25 yards of a mountain lion there a couple of years ago. Neither one of us wanted a confrontation so the dog and I and the lion just backed up from each other slowly watching each other. Bears...pfft. I chase them off my deck every fall. They scare pretty easily, or at least in my encounters with them. We also see our share of bears when fall hiking through Golden Gate Canyon state park. So far, since we make noise hiking, we have never caught one off guard and they seem perfectly content in going about their business and leaving us be.
The view from the top looks exactly the same no matter how you got there...Climbing safely since 1990 -Tony DiAngelo

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Re: Two Lions Near Lily Lake Trailhead

Postby BillMiddlebrook » Sun Sep 23, 2012 6:36 am

nyker wrote:I remember being told once they don't go above 8,000ft by a park worker - when I showed them a photo of footprints at 9,500, they were certain I had mistaken where I had taken the photo

I've seen them above 10,000' feet and had an interesting lion encounter at 11,400' a few years ago. They go where the food is
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