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Saturday, January 21, 2017

Here Kitty Kitty

Snowy Adventures.

Time to get outside!

Last weekend the weather was gorgeous and between the restless hubby, and cabin feverish dogs we decided to set out and find ourselves a new adventure!

Such a gorgeous day to waste inside, so we packed up the dogs and headed out for some fresh air!

We recently discovered a National Forest Service road not to far from where we live, it was perfect for a day trip. The only hard part of this little trail was the snow, frozen solid from all of the sun and freezing temperatures it was like walking on ice rather than snow.

But we weren't deterred! This was the perfect hike for us to test out our day hiking packs and practice carrying for emergency situations like getting stuck in the woods overnight. It's always good to have a plan in place. Our packs include things like a drinking water filter, hand warming packets, fire starting supplies, knife/leatherman, emergency blankets, etc...  that'll be a different post entirely, we're hoping to get into overnight camping when the weather warms up!

For the dogs, Dante currently is the only one with a pack - which for this trip we loaded up with a water bottle in each side, poo bags, and collapsible water dish. We still LOVE his Groundbird Gear Pack - that review is HERE. We're hoping to purchase a Groundbird Gear Backpack for Ziva this year, so that each dog can carry their own food for our overnight trips.

Isn't he handsome!
Although we're looking forward to warmer weather the snow sure makes for pretty pictures!

Tales In The Snow
The snow also tells all sorts of fun stories, we saw bobcat tracks which I somehow didn't take a picture of, deer tracks, and some cute little opossum prints (I think they are opossum but they could be raccoon).

And we found a poor lost feral kitty cat's tracks.

Here kitty, kitty!
Thankfully they appeared to be old tracks because we were heading down the trail in the same direction!  I say old because they looked like they were made when the snow was still soft, and then they froze. In case you're still puzzled those are cougar tracks, and not the fancy lady kind of cougar. 

Look at the size of those paws!
Living in Oregon cougars are a definite concern when you're out hiking. With an estimated wild population of about 6200 big cats our cougar population is over twice what they recommend for our state according to a few different articles and studies I found on the subject.

On a good note their are no recorded attacks of wild cougars attacking a person in Oregon although their have been plenty of sightings, and yes sadly attacks on livestock.  A close friend of ours had a 200 pound meat goat killed by a cougar a couple of years ago, the impressive part? The cougar jumped the 8 foot goat fence, killed the goat, and managed to jump back out over the fence with the goat! Another friend of ours experienced a panicked call from his wife when she discovered a cougar staring at her through her sliding glass doors, the same cougar they are guessing that a week earlier attacked their neighbor's horse.

It's pretty impressive to think these large cats exist out in nature, remaining generally hidden from sight. The hubby and I have only ever seen a cougar once, one time we were out riding the motorcycle (I was on the back, Dz Dad was driving) when I saw a cougar in a field - I hit him on the shoulder and he managed to catch a glimpse before it disappeared in the tall grass. Pretty amazing for sure!

I definitely find them fascinating as a predator, but we also carry a healthy respect for what these predators are capable of doing. So a few precautions that we take include not hiking alone, or if we do go alone it's with the dogs.

Our Hiking Precautions:
  • Tell someone a friend or family member where we are going and when to expect us to return.
  • We don't hike entirely by ourselves, if we go alone it's still with the accompaniment of a dog.
  • Dogs remain on leash when we're hiking. This may not sound like fun to you, but keep in mind a dog crashing around through the brush sounds just like a prey animal and draws predators like cougars in to investigate. Cougars have been known to go after dogs, I personally met a woman who's mastiff was attacked and barely survived to tell the tale his face bears the scars of his encounter to this day.
  • Carry a weapon, personally I prefer to carry a gun and pepper spray. It's good to have options since you could run into a number of different dangerous things.

If You DO See A Cougar:
  • Stay calm and stand your ground.
  • Maintain direct eye contact.
  • Speak firmly, clap your hands, and raise your arms to look larger.
  • Back away slowly but do not turn your back on the cougar.
  • Cougars will often run away if given the chance to escape, so make sure they have room!
Here is what the ODFW has to say.

On a good note our story has a happy ending, we didn't see any cougars and we had a great adventure!

Do you have any dangerous wildlife where you live?


  1. Cougars (the animal kind) are Lady's favourite animal, but she is glad your encounter was prints only! Thanks for sharing your hike.

    1. That's neat that your lady admires them so much! They are pretty neat.

  2. Gorgeous pictures! We have Coyote, Fox, Bears, Fisher cats

  3. Yes, they do make for good photos! Good cougar info!

    Your Pals,

    Murphy & Stanley

  4. I would DIE if I ran into a Cougar but I don't think that is too likely in Michigan. Just Coyotes which are scary enough! DakotasDen

  5. The snow does make for pretty pictures!! It sounds like a wonderful adventure, too, and I look forward to your camping posts when the weather warms up. We've been toying with the idea of taking Cooper camping but can't yet commit... maybe your experience will inspire us!

    We don't really worry too much about dangerous wildlife. We have a TON of coyotes around here, but since we hike with the dogs on leash, they've never been an issue. There are also rattle snakes at one of the parks we frequent, but we've never once seen one. I think we make enough noise? We know one dog who was bitten and, thankfully, survived, but we've been lucky! Tracks like you spotted are more than enough for me!

    1. Oh yes, those snakes definitely pose a scary problem. We have them too but I just try to avoid those places for the most part.
      I hope we can inspire you! Our dogs have never gone backpacking with us but I know of a few people who take their big dogs on the trips with them. I think our issue week be learning how to pack. Thanks for stopping by!

  6. Wow... never saw a cougar... we have coyotes out here and i hope cougars aren't here as well. We did have a scare a couple of weeks ago when a coyote ran at Clewie across a road, then Clewie and Tack both went into chase. Fortunately, Clewie stopped when we called her and they both didn't go too far. Our walker said that was the typical behavior of coyotes and they try to guide the dog into the pack... so we aren't sure if it was their recall, or the addition of Tack which stopped the interaction....

    It was scary after when we thought about it. We usually don't go too far off the beaten path when hiking... We had been getting lazy about reinforcing recall, so it's put that as a constant training back as a higher priority to practice more often.

    1. Yikes!! Yup, coyotes will lead a dog away and then attack as a group. Thank goodness your pups both came back.

  7. Holy moly, I have never encountered any wildlife other than deer, and I'm quite ok with that!! Those paw prints were impressively huge for sure. It's good that you take precautions and could defend yourself should the need to do so arise. I'm always out with my storm whistle and pepper spray, and I recently also purchased a flashlight/taser combo.


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