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Topic: scared of large animals, afraid of being eaten by wildlife< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 16 2013, 8:10 pm  Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I'm new to posting, but have subscribed to Backpacker magazine for quite sometime.  The articles are kind of like island magazines I read always wanting to see this or that!

Anyways, we just moved to southern Nevada (yes, crappy Las Vegas- I like to exclude that part as I don't gamble, solicit sex, or over-indulge in food) and I want to go hiking around town (Lake Mead, Red Rock) and the nearby national parks (like Zion, Bryce, Sequoia), but I am deathly afraid of mountain lions and large animals.  (Apparently, Nevada has a huge population of mountain lions.)

My husband and I are ghosts in the night working so I have to go at it alone with my four year old. I've read so much about not letting her get more than five feet in front or behind me and constantly keeping an eye out for wildlife.  I love the outdoors, but I don't know how I can ease my own fear of wildlife and be able to let her enjoy the beauty around us.  Please help!

We went camping at Bryce Canyon this past summer and I could barely enjoy a moment.  While we had a fire for a few hours I was sure something was going to pop out of the woods and attack myself or my young daughter.  Then I was so scared to get out of the tent to pee, I held it for six hours!
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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 16 2013, 8:57 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

First, I am not a small woman, or even any sized woman, so I cannot address those portions of your concern.

Mt Lions may be the largest predator in your environment, but they prey on deer, not humans.  Yes, there are a few attacks per year, but not nearly as many as human lightning strikes.  Try to keep that in your mind while hiking.  :)

As for not letting her run ahead, or lag too far behind, she is 4, right?  We have several mothers who took their kids bp'ing at that age.  TigerFan, Sarbar, Ponderosa,and Dicentra come to mind immediately.  If they don't pipe up soon, maybe send them a PM.  Keeping tabs of her just like you would in a mall, or a parking lot.  Cars are much more dangerous to her.

As for your neighborhood, Zion, Bryce, Grand Canyon, and Death Valley are all great places for overnighters or week long trips.  I use LAS as a jump off spot any time I fly to one of those places.  You have lots of options available to you.

Some folks suggest ear plugs, so you do not hear every little rustle while in the tent.  It is amazing how big that mouse sounds. Take care, and welcome to the boards.  


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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 16 2013, 9:12 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I suggest joining meetup.com and look for groups in hiking, backpacking...etc.  May I suggest looking for 'mom' groups because there might be some into getting out and about  in the parks, etc. with the kids.  Though your concerns are viable concerns take a deep breath there are thousands that get out there with the young 'uns and never have a problem.

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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 17 2013, 12:40 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Finding others to hike/backpack with sounds like a reasonable and viable option for you. I backpacked with my daughter from a young age and her dad never came with us. I live in the Olympics where we have mountain lions, bears and goats, oh my! I truly believe there isn't anything any one person can say that will make you more comfortable with the perceived threat to your child. You can know that it isn't as likely as a dog mauling, but your mind focuses on that threat anyway and that takes the fun out of the trip.  So, instead of trying to take out the threat, take out the fear.  By hiking with others, there are more eyes on your child, letting you dial it back a bit. You aren't going to be thought less of by not only going solo.

Another thought is to get your daughter kid size hiking poles. This helps makes her look bigger. If you haven't already, get her her own pack and a kiddy version of the 10 essentials. Teach HER to be your partner. When you are focused on the details of your environment to be able to teach her, YOU become more knowledgeable and knowledge is the enemy of fear.

My little hiking partner is turning 18 in a couple days. She may not be any big trail hound, but you can see the pride in her accomplishments when she is out there.  Keep it up! You will get there!
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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 17 2013, 6:41 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

You've probably heard this before but you're in  more danger just driving to the TH and insects cause many more deaths than do wild animals. Trips and falls cause far more injuries.
If you can deal with those facts, large animals shouldn't bother you.


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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 17 2013, 11:54 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I think Ldyblade is spot-on.  We hiked and backpacked with our kids from birth, and I have to say that when they were little it really helped to have two adults!  But I took them on dayhikes alone, and we survived :).  

If your daughter is a chatterbox,as many that age are, you probably have nothing to worry about!  But if fear is making you unable to enjoy, attack the fear with the sorts of measures discussed above, and it will fade.


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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 18 2013, 1:30 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Oh, the idea of you scared to death on your camping trip makes me wish you could join my daughters and me for a few nights.  My girls are 4 and 6.  We live in mountain lion country, too, and about half of our hikes are in grizzly land.  Finding a hiking partner is good advice.  Is there a local hiking club?  If you can't find a group or experienced friend to hike with for a while, I think your first strategy needs to be knowledge.  Ask the rangers if there have been any recent sightings of lions in the area you're hiking.  Ask when the last time there was a human encounter of any kind with a lion.  What you'll be told is that the chance of seeing a lion are very remote, and the chance of having a problem are smaller still.  Remember that places like Bryce have to post information about lion safety because they are a federal agency and receive millions of uninformed visitors.  It doesn't mean there is a lion lurking behind every outcropping. Read the Falcon Press book about hiking safely in lion country.  Keep reminding yourself that incidents are exceedingly rare, and that people have successfully fought off lions.  Carry some bear spray and use hiking poles.  They are very useful for hiking, and could double as a big pointy stick if needed.  
I can't remember ever, ever reading an account of a cougar attacking a person in a tent.  I just don't think it happens.  If the idea of leaving the tent in the dark is just too scary for now, bring something like this and a pee bottle:
http://www.rei.com/product....irector
I'm 39 years old, and I've been hiking and backpacking and camping my entire life in places with lions and bears.  I've seen lion tracks twice, and have never seen a lion. My hiker dad is 69. He has seen a lion once. My hiker Grandma is 89 and hiked nearly every day until just a few years ago.  She has seen a lion twice.  
Keep getting out there and stop by to tell us about your adventures.


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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 18 2013, 9:49 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I'm not a gambler either (nor in the sex industry, for that matter  :D ) but I'm SO jealous of where you live!  My favorite hiking grounds are in your backyard.

I'm not sure that there's anything logical or fact-based that anyone can point out that will wipe away your fears BUT if you're reading "wilderness attack" stories on the internet, STOP.  I think most of us have a twisted fascination with details about situations that scare/worry/disgust us but, really, reading about them won't prepare you or make you better informed.  Just don't do it.

In reality, the animals are much more threatened by humans than the other way around.

I definitely agree with the suggestion to hike/camp with others.  Otherwise, try not to beat yourself up about this and, frankly, adjust your outings as necessary so that you're comfortable.  I personally think it's healthier for your daughter to share experiences with you where you're comfortable and not uptight with fear.  If you're not comfortable camping, then just rent a room in the lodge and dayhike.  Bryce, Zion, Grand Canyon -- they all have great lodges in the park, with reasonable options.  You can still get up at dawn and enjoy sunrise outdoors.  You're missing the key component of nature and the outdoors if you can't relax and experience the peace.  Take baby steps.

And, here's the thing.  If you introduce your daughter to the outdoors now and ensure that her experiences aren't ones filled with worry, as she gets older, she will become the companion that will help *you* mitigate some of your fears.  It'll be a win-win outcome.  I know this because, while I don't have the same set of fears, my goal was to raise a sherpa and now that my son's 15, it's working out pretty well!   :D


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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 22 2013, 5:08 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I had to show DoW population reports to my fact driven wife to show her that a meeting with a large carnivor here in Colorado is rare...  She is jsut sure that either I, or her, will soon be dinner.....  I am also to never point out the Animal warning signs...  When I AM able to actually get her past the parking lot or tourist nature trail I do take bear spray..mosty for her sake..  What the hell I do suppose it's a good idea.  I'n all my 39 years of life I have never seen a bear in COlorado...  I hope to remedy that sooner then alter.
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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 22 2013, 7:59 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Star breaker, I'm pretty sure all the bears I've seen in CO have been within the Boulder city limits :D

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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 26 2013, 1:13 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I completely understand as I have similar concerns when I'm out and about with my almost 2-year-old, or when I'm by myself for that matter.  So I keep him close, hike with others when I can, choose hiking trails where there are likely to be others around, and hike with a pocket knife and pepper spray.   This gives me some peace of mind and I'm able to enjoy our time outdoors.  

I'd love to do some hiking out towards your area, I've never been to Red Rock.  I live about 3 hours from you and frequent the desert parks in CA this time of year.  I do a lot of car camping and dayhiking with my son. Holler if you'd like to go for a hike someday!  Trick is I have days off during the week and am trying to save up my leave.


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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 16 2014, 11:48 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(ponderosa @ Dec. 18 2013, 1:30 am)
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Ask the rangers if there have been any recent sightings of lions in the area you're hiking.  Ask when the last time there was a human encounter of any kind with a lion.  

you could also post a poll here in the trailhead register to see how many people here have actually seen a mountain lion in the wild - I bet it's very few.

I used to be that way with bears, and I could NOT sleep in bear country in my tent, but after a few uneventful trips, I just worried less about it.  Now grizzly country would be another story for me  :;):


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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 17 2014, 3:09 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Firedancer, I was worried about griz in the abstract, but we spent a month in the Canadian Rockies last summer and never saw any sign.  I pretty quickly stopped thinking about it (though I did NOT stop taking proper precautions in camp!).  OTOH, in Glacier a few years ago they bludgeoned us with is so much that I was a bit nervous all the time (members of our party actually SAW bears on that trip, too).

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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 23 2014, 8:37 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic.  Ignore posts   QUOTE

from what I have read mountain lions end of attacking humans because they are on a bike or running and the animals prey drive kicks in for the chase. It is rare though. I have camped in MD where Camp David is and a mountain lion came through the camp ground at night and seemed more upset that he stumbled upon the camp more than anything. he just wanted to get out of there, and never bothered anyone including the man sitting on the picnic table of the site the lion walked into from the forest. I lived on a mountain in CO where bears and mountain lions were every day sightings and never worried when I was out for a walk around the neighborhood. take precautions that you feel you need to but don't stop enjoying your surroundings. Once you do it a few times, I think the fear will subside.
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