Recently, I visited a national park to go hiking. The park had cougars roaming around freely within it. According to the park’s information center, cougars go by several other names, like panthers, pumas, American lions, mountain lions, mountain screamers, and freakin’ scary felines (I made up that last one.) The adult males can grow to be 8 feet long and weigh up to 220 pounds; females can grow up to 6.7 feet long and weigh up to 141 pounds.

As I drove on a park road, I came across a cougar. I saw its torso and legs. It bolted quickly into the brush. I slowed down my vehicle to try to see more of it, but it had disappeared. I was surprised to have seen a live cougar, it was a fairly large adult one.

At trailheads, there were signs warning if a cougar is encountered, don’t run away. The logic is that the cougars can out run a person. The signs also say to wave your arms and shout aggressively. If I came in contact with a cougar while hiking, let’s go over how the fight would go. The cougar has sharp teeth and claws, and can react very quickly. On the other hand, I have a decent vocabulary, charming good looks and a walking stick. If I overcame my basic instinct to turn tail and run, I could shout aggressive statements to the cougar like, “If you come near me, I’ll poke you so bad with my walking stick Mister Cat! Take this as a stern warning.” They say you should always bet on yourself, but in this case, I’d wager money for the cougar to win the fight.

Obviously, I didn’t come across a cougar on my hikes, as I’m writing this personal essay and not sitting inside the belly of a wild cat.  Yeah me.

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