The Cougar Scare

Submitted by Johanna on Fri, 07/31/2009 - 23:07


The afternoon was peaceful and serene; birds were quietly chirping in the trees, and the air felt warm.  There were ten of us cousins there that summer; James and Ezra had gone to a camp as counselors.  All of us, save the four youngest, were having the time of our lives spending hours hiking in the woods, playing war, or building our Fort Ticonderoga.  This fort was our pride and joy, for we had dragged and carried hundreds of logs to make it perfect.

     Fort Ticonderoga sat on the top of a small cliff.  On the left side, there was a sheer drop-off.  To prevent anybody from going over the edge, we had erected a wall of logs and branches about a foot high.  The left side and part of the entrance was comprised of two fallen trees, about three feet or more in diameter.  For the rest of the entrance, we had made a wall of sorts, just tall enough for us to crouch down behind and “shoot” at each other with our ‘guns’.  Finally, on the far side of the fort, which was the easiest to defend, there was a steep inline.  This side would have actually been the easiest to attack, except for one thing.  The Ledge. 

     The ledge was one of the greatest assets of the fort.  If we put just one person there, with the proper fortifications we could hold the fort quite easily against enemy invaders.  Therefore, Isaac, Nat, and I decided to fortify it.  After lunch one afternoon, we headed to the fort, impatient to finish our work.

     Everything was going perfectly well; we had most of the wall built.  We were finally putting on the finishing touches, when Isaac, coming down to the ledge, said urgently, “There’s a mountain lion up there.  I saw its golden fur through the trees just now.”

     I, with my vivid, 12 year old imagination, started to panic.  “You saw a WHAT?” I whispered, trying not to attract unwanted attention from the cougar. 

     “A mountain lion.” he repeated.  “I think we should go check it out.  They always say there’s strength in numbers.”

     I almost stopped breathing.  “What?” I squeaked.  Nat, after a few seconds of incredulous silence finally joined the conversation.  “Are you sure it was a mountain lion?  A real one?”

     “Yes.” Isaac nodded, and added, “See for yourself.”  Cautiously, we crawled up to the fort and peeked over the edge of a rock.  Sure enough, there was a flash of gold, moving among the trees.

     Quickly ducking back down, we started down the slope, trying to get away as quickly as possible.  My heart was pounding, I was shaking, and my vivid imagination kept tricking me into hearing sounds behind us as we scrambled down.  I felt that any second now, that mountain lion would pounce, felling me with one blow.  It didn’t help that the boys were steadily moving ahead, and I could not keep up with them.  “Wait for me!” I whimpered.

     Finally, they took pity on me and slowed down a little.  By that time, we had reached the bottom of the slope; my legs, which were not protected by long pants, were scratched and bleeding in some places.  We did not stop, however, and fear drove us on toward the cabin.  When we were near enough, we started calling for Uncle Tom.

     We finally found him, and gasped out our story.  When we had finished however, he looked at us with mingled pity and amusement, and said, “I think that what you saw was a large dog.  I saw some people down near the other cabins earlier today, and they had an enormous golden retriever with them.”

     Still, we could not and would not be convinced until Uncle Tom said, “After supper, we’ll go on an expedition to discover the true nature of this mountain lion.”  “Wouldn’t the mountain lion hurt us?”  I asked fearfully, but he was already gone.

     We told all the others, and naturally, they believed us because we were the oldest cousins there at the time.  After dinner, we all got ready for our expedition.  Though I wouldn’t have admitted it at the time, the stick I was carrying was not a walking stick, it was a ‘weapon’.  We proceeded, for the most part, cautiously.

     As we labored up a steep incline, everyone fell silent, as if a noise would send the lion our way.  Every step I took carried me farther and farther away from the cabin.  While we children nervously peered behind trees and bushes, my uncle went calmly along, almost jovially.

     Suddenly, someone shouted, “I found a track!”  Forgetting to be quiet, we all rushed toward the place, eager to find out what our eyes had really seen earlier that afternoon.  All eight of us crowded around anxiously until someone said, “Awww, it’s just a dog track.”

     “But it’s an enormous one.” declared my uncle.  “Probably about the size of that golden retriever.”  He looked at us and grinned.


     Needless to say, the younger children teased us for the rest of the cabin trip.  Someone would shout, “MOUNTAIN LION!” and Isaac, Nat, and I would look up, groan, and ignore them.  But the incident has all but been forgotten … until now.

Author's age when written


Johannah, don't move there is a cougar behind you!!!!!!! :) 



                                                               your concerned cousen,

                                                                                  :)  Rosie :)

Wisdom is knowing what to do next, skill is knowing how to do it, and virtue is doing it.
David Starr Jordan