“A few months ago, my friend and I went hiking on Pikes Peak near Colorado Springs. The hike up this mountain is a literal marathon, with about 7,000 feet of vertical gain and the general rule of thumb is that if you’re not up and back down below the tree line by noon then you are at risk of being struck by lightning. So we made the decision to hike the whole thing in one day by staring at 11:00 p.m. the night before.
We roll up on the trailhead at 10:30 p.m., only to find the parking lot is completely empty. Which I found very odd for a trailhead on a Friday night in late summer. I had done nighttime hikes on other mountains, but the parking lot was usually at least half full at all times, especially in the late summer in Colorado. That made me feel a little uneasy but I shrugged it off and we started the hike.
We started off at a pretty good pace, getting about five miles in within the first couple hours so it was about 1:00 am at this point. We were walking along a narrow part of the trail that has a large rock cropping to the right of us. As we passed it, we hear a scraping noise followed by some rustling of bushes then silence. That freaked me out a bit, but I told myself it was a deer and we must have spooked him and we continued along. For the next couple of miles, I kept hearing little noises off in the distance to our right. About an hour later, at 2:00 a.m., we had just passed Barr Camp which is about seven miles from the trailhead, still without seeing any other human being other than my friend. Even the campsite was deserted. Anyway, I was walking along the trail about two to three meters ahead of my friend when I looked up a little and saw two glowing white circles floating in the darkness on the trail about 15 meters ahead of me. My heart sank and I stopped dead in my tracks. My friend asked me why I stopped, and I told him to point his headlamp, which was brighter than mine, up the trail. We saw that the two glowing orbs belonged to a mountain lion.
At this point I was just frozen looking at him thinking That’s the last thing I want to see out here. He was quite aware of our presence as well. He stared at us for about 15 seconds and then he retreated into the darkness behind some trees.
At this point, without saying a word, I took out a thing of bear mace and handed it to my friend and we turned around on the spot to begin hiking back down the mountain at a very brisk pace. I was looking down the trail and my friend spent most of that time walking back to back with me to make sure it couldn’t jump us. We made it back down to the trailhead at about 3:30 a.m., counted our blessings and went home.
Overall the hike was a very unsettling experience. Being deep into the forest without coming across any other people, especially when you would expect to meet others is uncomfortable. Let alone being staked by one of the most dangerous predators in North America.
I know that most of the time mountain lions don’t attack humans. But I’ve also been told that if you see a mountain lion, then they’ve been aware of your presence for a good while prior to that. And if they make their presence known to you, it’s usually a warning. So I can only assume that all the noises I heard that night were from the mountain lion stalking us.
Also the next day we found out why we were alone on the trail. Earlier that day an elderly man had a heart attack and died on the trail so the trail was closed but we missed that memo since we arrived so late.”