Last night, my friend Jayne and I were walking Jackson in City Creek Canyon in Salt Lake City. On our way back down, at the 2.5 mile mark we saw what we initially thought was a Bobcat, but what I now believe was a cougar, a.k.a. mountain lion. I estimate this cat weighed anywhere from 90 to 150 pounds. He was gorgeous.
When we first saw him he was walking away from us, just 30 feet distant. He was in the streambed; we were on the road about 10 feet higher. We stopped to watch him. He continued for about ten strides and stopped in the shadows, turning around and watching us.
The standoff lasted for 90 seconds to two minutes.
It was exciting and a little scary. I didn't want him to attack us, or Jackson. We had no choice but to walk right past him, coming within about 15 feet. Because of his location he would be invisible as we passed.
About two minutes after we first sighted him, some bikers appeared on the road, approaching us. I took this as the opportunity to run by; guessing that he wouldn't attack with four people and a dog in the immediate vicinity. Attacks are extremely rare, though they do happen.
All of us, including the unsuspecting bikers, passed him at the same time, with Jayne, Jackson, and I jogging. We mentioned to the bikers that there was a large cat (we said Bobcat), "right there."
They gave us a blank look--it had been a long climb to that point. We all continued on our way.
City Creek Park is in the city limits. From where we saw the Cougar, we were less than four miles from the heart of downtown Salt Lake.