~ Night of the Lion ~
This scene was taken on the last night of my 3 day backpacking trip at Shi Shi Beach. It is located just a few miles south of the most northwest corner of the lower 48. This remote stretch of beach is abundant with wildlife and marine life. It is bear country and the Olympic National Park requires all overnight backpackers to keep food and scented items inside a canister. When I returned to my tent at 9:30 at night a mountain lion was hiding in the thick salal brush next to my tent. I heard it growl at me two times as I slowly made my way through the door of my tent. I couldn’t see it, but it had to be no more than 15 ft away! I was by myself and my bear spray was inside my backpack. It circled the outside perimeter of my tent and stopped to sniff the back corner before it knocked over an empty water bottle next to the front door. About 2 or 3 minutes had gone by and I heard nothing. The last thing I heard was the sound of sharp claws scratching the sides of my bear canister at about 50 ft away. This went on for about one minute and then I heard nothing for the rest of the night. The next morning I broke camp and found fresh tracks in the sand next to some large logs on the beach. I will never forget those low-pitched growls that sent chills down my spine.