By Doug Campbell
It was 9 in the morning on July 1st and I was hiking out of the Pecos Wilderness… the last day of a 5 day hitch. I came up over a crest on the trail and my eye caught something about 30 yards away… it was large, tan in color, low to the ground and had a tail as long as it’s body. A Mountain Lion !!! It was standing across the trail and seemed pre-occupied with something. It hadn’t seen me, yet. I don’t know if 1, 2 or 5 seconds passed but time seemed to stand still as my mind was processing what I was seeing. This was my second mountain lion encounter, the first in 2006 from the safety of my car near Gila Cliff Dwellings in SW New Mexico. This was very different … a close encounter in the wild! Suddenly, the lion sensed my presence and looked right at me. It than ran away into the forest. I watched it from afar…. it had slowed to a walk, maybe 75 yards away (and continued to move away from me). I hiked down the trail to the spot it had been standing. Just off the trail was a fresh kill. A young buck that had been partially eaten then covered with grass and dead branches. I must have come upon the lion soon after the kill and while it was covering it up. I took a photo and kept hiking…… while waving my hiking sticks above my head to look big. I was thrilled and on a high the rest of the day (many days actually). I will forever cherish and be in awe of my WILD encounter in the Pecos Wilderness.
Doug Campbell/Wilderness Ranger