Adventure: Trail Running 04


This is supposed to be an art blog – so I’d better do some art. Here’s a cougar.

I’ve been running the trails behind my house with some serious dedication, but with the increasing rain toward the end of Winter, the trails have become really quite treacherous. Like, dirty waterslide type treacherous. I suppose if I ran in heavy hiking boots (which I’ve done before), I could make it work – but when I do that I end up with boots that die well before their time (after which I continue to wear their zombies).

So, that said, I’ve gotten out a bit less lately than I’ve intended.

For the past two weeks, though, I’ve barely gotten out at all. I’ve been trapped, and because of that, I’ve been going a bit stir crazy. Like I said, this whole trail running routine I’ve been doing daily has been a tremendous boon to my mood and sense of well being, and without it, I’ve been doing a bit of a spiral downward.

Today I went back out there anyway turn that spiral around.

So, what do you think it’s been that’s had me trapped in the house?

A) Illness
B) Assassins
C) Lions
D) Tigers and Bears, Oh My
E) Daleks

If you selected C) Lions – you’ve guessed correctly. That’s right: lions. Plural. Two.

Well, mountain lions, to be precise; otherwise known as Cougars or Pumas.

Come to think of it, I really dislike the word Puma. To my ear it causes the same kind of phonetic discomfort that most people find with words like “moist”, or “jowls”. /digress

One night after the rain had cleared, I decided that I should get outside and take a walk around Cranberry Lake for the sake of my sanity. I’d always found a good long walk around the wooded verge of the lake to be incredibly soothing, and so after a few frantic moments of pacing around my studio I broke free of the grip of my anxious hermitdom and jumped into my shoes.

I hadn’t yet left my street, or put my headphones to my ears when I noticed a shape off in the middle distance to my left. I continued walking for a pace or two while my mind did the calculations, then I came to a frozen standstill when it handed me the results.

At first glance I had thought it was a deer. That made sense. After all, I see deer of all sizes (including tiny Bambi replicas) on almost a daily basis. In the next split second, however, I realized simultaneously that deer don’t walk low to the ground, and that the neighbours don’t have dogs they let roam the neighbourhood freely; especially not dogs of that size, and particularly not dogs shaped like cats.

It was in fact, a cougar. The first I’d ever encountered on foot.

I was close enough to it at this point that if I had a pebble in my hand, and I chose to use that pebble in a spectacularly self-destructive manner, I coud easily pinged it between the eyes. And my aim, it should be noted, is only “ok”.

I had seen it and I stopped moving, but like most cats, this cougar chose to believe that it was still invisible. Rather than bolt toward me or back into the woods, it chose to lay low against the grass keeping a watchful eye on me.

I did the only thing I could think of, which was to back very slowly away – not turning my back for a second – and get back to the safety of my studio. Once I got home I posted something about my encounter to various social media to alert the neighborhood about what transpired and kept my housecat Toby safely locked in the house. The next day I went around and talked to the people on the street face to face.

Days later, I had heard it said that a cougar was caught and “discharged” on a street somewhere across the lake from me.I wasn’t sure what “discharged” meant, but I’m pretty sure the scope and meaning of that word doesn’t include anything like “capture” or “rehabilitation”. Usually quite the opposite. The grapevine had it that this particular cougar was old and sickly, using it’s limited hunting capacity to prey on domestic house-cats and small dogs.

It was a relief to see that the problem was dealt with, but still unsettling and sad to hear that the beast was simply evicted from existence. This, however, didn’t account for the reports of a young cougar spotted near the lake that had been feeding on a deer it killed for several days.

So there’s two of them. Or was.

With the older, sickly one out of the picture, the younger, faster, bolder one remains – and I decided my sanity would have to take a back seat to my survival. I’d have to focus on a more “indoor” sort of fitness routine.

That said, I’ve still walked the trails and the lake. Running has been out of the question (unless I go to the track, which I’ve done a handful of times) but a simple walk in the woods has been just as nourishing to the soul as any Dagobah styled jungle adventure – just much less energizing.

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  1. Pingback: Art: Bear Season | Brad Collins Art & Illustration
  2. Robyn · March 31, 2016

    I am a yearbook teacher in Auburn, WA. We are looking for a picture of a cougar to use in our yearbook that is hand drawn. Would you be willing to let us use your drawing? We would give you credit and could even list your website. It is on your March 24, 2014 blog about trail running.

    • bradcollins128 · March 31, 2016

      Certainly! That would be fantastic!

      • Knudtson, Robyn · April 1, 2016

        Thank you!

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