Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Steamboat Springs Mountain bike rider Dave Dietrich wasn't sure how he should feel Monday evening after coming across a full-grown mountain lion on Emerald Mountain.
"It was one of the neatest encounters of my life - it was also the most interesting and the most frightening," Dietrich said.
Dietrich, who works in sales for Moots Cycles, said he was riding on the new Quarry Mountain Trail when he came across the big cat walking along the trail, which bypasses the Lane of Pain.
"I got off my bike, picked it up and held it above my head to look bigger," Dietrich said. "I started yelling and I slammed my bike down hoping that the cat would run away, but it was unfazed."
Dietrich even tried throwing a rock, but with no success. The biker and the big cat stood less than 50 yards apart looking at one another for two or three minutes. Finally Dietrich, who didn't want to turn his back on the mountain lion, said he began to back down the trail, keeping his bike in front of him. He lost sight of the mountain lion, and when he felt he was a safe distance away, Dietrich jumped on his bike and rode back down the trail.
"I think he was as surprised to see me, as I was to see him," Dietrich said. "On my way down I warned other riders that he was up there."
Dietrich, who has a degree in wildlife management and is an avid bow hunter, said he has seen signs of mountain lions on Emerald Mountain in the past, including tracks on the backside of a mountain lion kill. But this was his first encounter with a mountain lion.
"It's surprising. Emerald doesn't seem like mountain lion habitat," Dietrich said. He speculated that because the new trail takes riders into new areas, it may have cut across the big cat's natural habitat or travel patterns.
"The cat was beautiful and I got to see it up close and personal," Dietrich said. "I just tried not to freak out, and I tried to keep my composure."
-To reach John F. Russell call 871-4209 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org