Hiker Has Intense Standoff With Mountain Lion Before Birds Rescue Her

by Hannah Heser
(Photo by William F. Campbell/Getty Images)

A hiker in Arizona is still mentally recovering from being face-to-face with a mountain lion.

Arizona currently has beautiful 70-degree weather, which is perfect for hiking! Although, what starts out as a peaceful hike for this backpacker turns into her fighting for her life.

How the Faceoff With Mountain Lion Begins

Tiffany Foster, an Arizona resident, is on her fourth of a five-day solo hiking adventure in Saguaro National Park. Suddenly, she witnesses a herd of deer running for their lives. They were charging right for her campsite.

Many thoughts are racing through her head at this moment.

USA Today reports on a YouTube video she posts later on. “After probably three to five minutes, I turned around and there was a huge cat clinging to a tree about 10 feet from me,” Foster says on her recent YouTube video. “It was resting at about two to three feet off the ground on the trunk of a tree.”

After realizing that it’s a mountain lion, she starts backing up. While reaching in her bag for bear spray and her Garmin inReach satellite messenger, she starts throwing rocks at the cougar. Honestly, this approach is a mixed bag. You should stand your ground, and a well-placed rock could send the big cat packing. But then again, the fight-or-flight response is a two-way street.

This particular cat wouldn’t budge after constant yells and rock-throwing. You would think it’d get mad and attack, right? I guess not this one!

After that, she begins filming the scene to catch any sudden movements for her YouTube channel.

“I wasn’t able to film what finally got it out of the tree,” she adds. However, what did get the mountain lion going was a flock of birds, or scrub jays, to be specific. They came to the rescue by annoying him until he left.

From Storyful Rights Management YouTube, here is the video of the mountain lion’s appearance.

It’s hard to spot the birds, but you can definitely hear them.

What Happens Next?

Finally, after a few bird pecks, the mountain lion decides to leave the tree. While she thought she was in the clear, it comes back to scope out a bag of her dirty clothes. I know what you’re thinking. These creatures are so weird. Who would even want to look at someone’s already worn shirts?

Luckily, she is able to scare it away with rocks and yelling. It finally left the campsite, but Foster is still not at ease.

She remarks how that is the scariest thing that’s ever happened to her. Now, every noise she hears makes her think it’s the cougar’s return.

During this chaos, she texts her husband and the National Park Service for help. The National Park quickly replies by telling her to leave the area immediately. And in just four hours, she hikes ten miles in the dark to make her way out.

This encounter was one of the most alarming since the 1890s. The National Park didn’t hesitate to close the area through Sunday for mountain lion activity.

A question to think about, “If you were in her shoes, what would you do?”