I am reasonably certain that I will never live this down.
April 28, 2011

I felt the predator before anything else.  I felt fear.  Maybe it was a smell that I could not consciously register or a sound that I didn’t quite overlook or a sight at the end of my visual range…or maybe it was just a feeling.  A knowledge.

Whatever it was, all I felt was fear.  I looked at Charlotte, knelt down and sifting her fingers through the dirt on the trail twenty feet away.  The perfect target.  My senses heightened, my heart thudded, my mind raced.  We were being hunted.  Her.  Me.  Us.

I didn’t even recognize my voice when it came out.  It was like a low, menacing, guttural growl commanding my child to my side.  And it worked.  She came.  Every step of her way into my arms, my eyes darted here and there.  Waiting.  Watching.  Knowing.

When I saw the tall grasses moving beside us, at the very edge of my visual range, I was not surprised.  I stood still for awhile, my daughter terrified and bawling in my arms, as I watched the animal move away from us.  When the grasses newly swaying were far enough away for comfort, I turned and ran to the ranger’s station.

A minute later, two men were at the trailhead with me.  It was big, I told them.  It was hunting us.  The ranger was worried.  There had been an active mountain lion nearby lately, but if it’s getting that close to people and it’s that cavalier about being noticed then we have a problem, he said.  It was the only predator he considered.  The other man, a local tracker, asked for details.  I pointed, explained, pointed, explained, pointed.  He walked off, stepping high over the grasses, looking at every leaf for clues.  Mountain lions aren’t to be taken lightly, he said.  We’re lucky this ground is so soft.

In the blink of an eye, though, he was back.  Did you see anything?, the ranger asked.

Yeah, the tracker answered laughing.  I think what our little missy saw here was a snake.  From the size and shape of its slither, I’d say one of those harmless little black things you find in summer gardens.


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  1. By Momiss on April 28, 2011

    You get extra points for being alert and proactive.  Up here we have feral pigs, mountain lions, and recently they have re-introduced cotton mouths.  AFTER we had killed them all.  lol
    Just be glad it was nothing.  This is why women say “The things I worry about never happen” as a good reason to worry. ;)

  2. By on April 28, 2011

    Well I say that that mountain lion was standing on top of the snake to disguise her tracks.

      Seriously, you should always trust your gut. Read the book, The Gift of Fear, sometime.  If your hackles are rising, there is a reason.  From where you were standing, how could you tell if it was a harmless snake or a rattler?

  3. By Megan R. on April 28, 2011

    thanks for a laugh on this rainy Thursday!

  4. By etosia on April 28, 2011

    Ahhh! That post gave me goose bumps! Good for you for trusting your gut though! You can never be too careful!

  5. By Ashley Austrew on April 28, 2011

    I agree with everyone: better safe than sorry!

  6. By on April 28, 2011

    Well this London mama would have been just as freaked out knowing it was ‘only’ a harmless snake!


    That initial fear must have been almost paralising. Poor you. And phew!!!

  7. By Sarah Christensen on April 28, 2011

    Moira - One time, at home, I saw a little two-inch snake and I started hollering and jumping around and got on top of the toilet seat ... to what, exactly?  Protect myself?  I have no idea.

    Anyway, it turned out to be a lizard’s tail.  My cat had the rest of the lizard.  Donald can’t tell that story without laughing so hard that he cries, I swear.

    I’d take a snake over a mountain lion any day, though!

  8. By dandy on April 28, 2011

    Mitzie’s comment made me laugh out loud.

    The thought of Mountain Lions freak me out- they’ve had incidents in the past out here at Whiting ranch.  Crazy how those mommy instincts work!

  9. By on April 28, 2011

    I don’t care what the tracker said…your internal voice spoke loud and clear to you and that’s the only voice to always listen to. Always….no exceptions.

  10. By The Mommy Therapy on April 30, 2011

    Impressive that you sensed anything at all.  Usually I am too wrapped up in wrangling my children and figuring out the next step for the day. 

    Scary to even think about a mountain lion though.  Get off that trail for a while. :)


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