I was at the Lake Eden Arts Festival in Black Mountain. The storms had rolled through and the sky was slightly overcast. My truck was parked on the adjacent Grovestone property way down the "gravel road of death". If you have been to this festival you know what I mean; a person could end up walking for 15-20 minutes to get to a vehicle, and if a person were carrying a kid or something else.....
I walked to the security tent to find out if the shuttles were still running, knowing that they were not, but hoping they would offer me a ride. The thing about the "gravel road of death" is that it is separated by a series of lakes. My truck was a 3-4 minute walk from the security tent, but the lakes were in the way. I pointed almost to the exact location of my truck telling the security guards. The looked at me and said," There's a trail right there". Surprised, I made sure that the trail was legit. They asked if I had a light, I said "no" but was ok, because the moon was out and I was able to see enough to get down the trail.
I climbed up and over the embankment, slipping on some roots and sliding down the other side. It was quiet on this side and I was alone between the lakes. I walked softly, listening to the sound of the frogs and crickets, not realizing that there was a very real possibility I was being watched. I made it to the truck and home.
The following night, equipped with the knowledge of the trail, I was ready with a flashlight. It was a good move because the sky was dark and the moon nowhere to be seen. I climbed up and over the embankment, walking carefully down the other side. I paused for a moment to take in the night sounds then started walking softly. I took about 20 steps and heard crunching in the undergrowth next to me. The next 10 seconds are emblazoned in my memory and I will never forget what I had the privilege of experiencing.
I heard the crunch, my mind told me it was something big, these thoughts flash through my mind: deer, bear, person.....I immediately turned and directed my small beam of light on the sound while at the same time, letting out a startled yell. By the time I had turned, and shined the light, in a flash, all that I glimpsed was the right rear haunch, a charcoal black fur covered haunch, followed by a 3 foot long cat tail covered in the same fur.....mountain lion.
I have heard both sides of the story. The Forest Service and scientists deny that they exist. The locals, woodsmen and old timers confirm their existence. I have always held a hope that they are still out there and now I believe. Very few people have caught a glimpse of this stealthy animal, and I have now joined them.
They are out there....