So this morning we awoke and dove into chores and piano lessons and off we went. The boys were so excited they packed their backpacks with water bottles and snacks. Once we reached the trailhead that is just at the foothills south of the Draper Temple nestled in a lovely neighborhood we piled out of the car. I noticed that their backpacks were rather full and sagging. So I asked if any of them wanted to lighten their load and leave some of their stuff in the car. We could have a picnic when we came back down from the mountain I mentioned. I chuckled as bottle after bottle of water was emptied out of their backpacks and huge boxes of crackers and goldfish were pulled out. After we modified our lighter load we headed up the trail.
There was excitement in their step as they bounced up the trail leading the way. A little ways up the trail I reminded them to stay close to me as we meandered up the switch back trail. The sun was still coming up over the mountain, it’s rays of light were filtering through the foliage above. It was peaceful and nature’s beauty encompassed us on our little journey. We rounded a corner and came out of the densely clustered trees. The trail bringing us out onto a peak that over looked the valley. I pulled out my camera and took some pictures while the boys took the opportunity to sit in the dirt and eat a snack. As I put my camera away something tugged at my thoughts. I began to think, “How would I fight off a mountain lion? What would I do?” And those were not comforting thoughts. I began to grow increasingly uneasy.
As the boys bounded down the trail ahead of me, I called them back to my side. I was trying to decide just how far we should go as I scanned the terrain around us when I felt an intense impression to pray for safety. I could see homes close by in fact we could see into their back porches, how much danger could there be? But, I felt it. The trail cut into the steep mountainside and was only about 2’ wide, there was a steep drop to our left although it was buffered with dense shrubs and trees. While to the left the mountain shot straight up above us and was thick with overgrown shrubbery. The path however was fairly smooth and clear and we were used to such hiking. The feeling was persistent and it consumed my thoughts. I halted our progress, the boys only a couple yards in front of me I asked them to come to my side and just as I was prepared to inform them that we needed to head back. A loud but low deep growl came from behind my left shoulder. I knew immediately what it was and I could feel the heat from it’s growl on my bare neck. Instantly I put my arms straight out to protect my boys I told them quietly and firmly, “Go! Go quickly” pointing back down the mountain and to “stay close together”. I stood there with my arms out creating the only barrier I could with me in between the mountain lion and my children as I ushered them past me. I had slightly turned my head to see for myself, to look eye to eye with this creature. But at the last minute I thought better of making eye contact. Who knows why, I just knew I better stick with my instincts at this point. I had turned just enough to see and know that it was there in the bushes that were pressed up against my back.
As my last son carefully passed in front of me I turned and followed them close like a mother and her ducklings with my arms still outstretched. Down we quickly went. The boys still didn’t know why we were headed back down the mountain or why we were going so quickly. Or why their mother was singing hymns so loudly and really badly to boot. Everest asked what was going on and when I felt we were far enough away I quietly said, “mountain lion” and we quickened our pace. His eyes grew wide and asked, “is that what that was, I heard it.” I’m so proud of my boys, in that moment, the moment I needed them most to quickly obey without any question they did. Now we were all singing and we were flying down the mountain. Every so often I would glance back behind us or up above as the path zig-zagged it’s way back down. Coming across some loose dirt Edison lost his footing and tumbled. A cloud of dirt circled about our feet and rocks scattered under his knees but he jumped right back up without missing a step. I scooped Hudson up onto my hip as I knew his little legs must be tiring to keep up but remarkably he had been doing an incredible job. Upon making it down to the trailhead Edison asked “Wow, how’d we get down the mountain so fast?” I quietly replied, “I think we had a little help” knowing we had never ran that we had only marched a steady pace back. Isaac chimed in, “Yah we flew down!”.
The car was in sight and I couldn’t get the doors opened fast enough. At this point we were safe and that’s when my nerves of steel turned to trembling. We climbed in and locked the doors and caught our breath. Not that mountain lions can open doors but it felt safe. I called Cameron and told him what just happened and as we were backing out Hudson asks, “can we go to a different hiking place, one without mountain tigers?”, my little outdoorsmen.
Who knows how long it had been watching us. Or if it was merely napping in the cool shade from the rising sun when we came upon him. I know that that lion could’ve attacked us if it wanted to. Instead it chose to give us a warning that we weren’t welcome there and we were too close. Rather polite of him, when you think about it. I find it interesting that it didn’t growl until I came up in front of it. Maybe the boys weren’t threatening enough. I have always had a powerful testimony of prayer and this only strengthened it. I know with out a doubt there was divine intervention. That was too close for comfort.
It took the rest of the day for the adrenaline rush to wear off. The boys have been drawing mountain lions, even my three year old has perfected a ‘mountain tiger’. In fact I found his life-sized masterpiece of one drawn in blue marker on a beige carpet canvas. Hudson asked why the mountain lion growled at us and if he wanted to bite us. He said that they shouldn’t be there where we’re hiking. I told him that mountain lions don’t have homes like us that they live in the wild. So actually we were in it’s home. He giggled at that.