10/25/17 Wednesday in Tucson, AZ
We were enjoying a presentation at the Visitor Center on Mountain Lions by a Volunteer Naturalist when the fire alarm went off so he continued his talk outside by the flagpole. This was a hot day (over 90), he was looking into the sun and had to talk over the alarm, voices of other “escapees” and soon the fire truck engine. I was as impressed by his perseverance as his knowledge and fun stories.
We learned that this animal has more “common” names than any other – about 80. Among them are: Cougar, Puma, Panther, Ghost Lion. They are the most efficient predator – getting their prey 85% of the time. Wolves only manage 15% of the time. They are proficient in Stealth (nocturnal), Sight, Strength, and Smell. They even have their back paws step into the depression made by their front paws. What they don’t have is stamina, like the predators that run like wolves and lions. Once they’ve “pounced” onto the back of an animal (they most often attack mule deer and javelinas in the Park), they’ll use their powerful jaws to crush the victim’s neck vertebrae.
Don, the volunteer, shared a couple stories. In one, he was hiking early in the morning and spotted what he thought was a mountain lion (later he saw through his binoculars that it was a bobcat, another animal that frequents the park). It was facing off against 2 coyotes. He turned and dashed onto a 2 foot high rock, then leaped onto the 13 foot high egg shaped rock just behind it. The 2 coyotes approached from in front and behind the bobcat. The one in front scrambled to reach the bobcat. As his head came above the top of the tall rock, the bobcat swiped at it’s head. The coyote ran off once it’d tumbled to the bottom. His partner was never to be heard from. After a little grooming (probably waiting to see if either coyote reappeared) the bobcat proceeded off his rock perch.
Our naturalist suggested that we take his favorite hike up King’s Canyon Wash. We’d see lots of petroglyphs at one point on the hike. We did that hike. Boy were we grateful for the winds on this very hot day.
After this we trekked up hill to a picnic area, then returned the way we’d come, grateful for the shade of our car at the ending of our hike. A good place for our picnic lunch.
We determined that this side of Saguaro NP (Tucson Mountain – West) was not nearly as nice as the other (Rincon Mountain – East). Granted there is the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum there, but it’s more a zoo of the animals and plants of the desert ($20/person). There is also the Old Tucson Studios, another pay for activities place. Both seemed like places we’ve seen before, so we skipped them.
At this point we’d had enough of hiking, took off for home base, with stops at a car wash and grocery store before crashing at our condo.