Flying feline

The Snark

Dumpster Fire of the Gods
Old Timer
Aug 8, 2005
I was just reminded of this incident by a person who was taking her first horse ride of any distance, her introduction the the real wide open wilderness and her first encounter with wild animals.

Pack train, about 18 horses, I was the only ramrod. High Sierras. We had topped the eastern rise with the vegetation suddenly switching from scrub trees to waist-chest high solid sage brush. I had moved from tail to the head as the horses would quit balking and start charging towards to meadow they knew was ahead. Scanning the brush as best I could, my horse being his usual do-it-his-own-way had climbed up on top of a rock which gave me a commanding view. I instantly spotted something not the right color. Tan in a sea of gray blue greenish. Then down off the rock I could see nothing and couldn't even judge the distance that tan something was. I took inventory of all the horses, ears - radar, and nostrils flared on alert for scents. Got nothing.
I held check as we worked our way through the brush. Dead calm air. None of the horses even did the ears thing when we got to the bear run, a draw between the several acres of manzanita that dropped on down to the river. Getting beyond that onto a flat area I got off to do a tack check. Steep slope down to the river and I didn't want a rodeo as a saddle slipped up onto a horses neck. All the horses had heavy packs - 2 weeks rations for them and the people plus personal belongings. As I went back to my horse he was on point, staring in the direction of where I had seen the tan. Did a little triangulation in my head which placed the whatever at near the closest we would come to it. I asked my horse what we had got and moved him through the brush a few yards. Always the problem when running solo. Can't check things out and ride train at the same time. He didn't let rip with one of his whinny's so I headed him back. As I was passing the lead horse the girl on it was open mouthed and staring. I glanced up just in time to see a bobcat go sailing through the air in a flat out amazing leap. It easily covered more than 10 feet. Probably closer to 20. Then another amazing leap and it was gone. What the hey?
I checked the horses. No spooks. They were all impatient for the feed trough and saw nothing. Pulling my rifle I headed my horse back towards where the cat had been, letting him run the show. Better senses than I have. He was in his element, stallion running his herd. Stalking, head high and proud, ready for anything. A little bit like a cat in a way, slow and deliberate. His nose led us straight to where the cat had been. Easy to see tracks. The cat had noticed us, stayed low and worked it's way parallel to the trail to keep an eye on us for a ways, then sat down on a mound to watch when I did the tack check. Then it discovered a little oversight. The mound was an ants nest, swarming with really angry ants. Those red with a black butt just spoiling for a fight monsters. I explained to the girl to not worry about cats and bears as much as watch out where you sit. 'Ants. And ticks.'
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