Runner Has Deadly Encounter With Mountain Lion And Lives To Tell The Tale
We often times hear chilling stories of people experiencing near-death encounters, but we hardly ever think that something like that could happen to us. For some reason, the possibility of death evades our thoughts either because we’re afraid of the inevitable, or we’re just trying to enjoy living in the present. Therefore, when death does come knocking, it can be a terrifying experience, much like what one Colorado man had to go through.
What Travis Kauffman hoped would have been a pleasurable run up the mountain landed him a face-to-face meeting with a mountain lion, one which could have ended in his death. Miraculously, he managed to kill the lion and escape with his life, albeit with some injuries. Just how did he accomplish such a feat? We’ve got the story and so much more – keep reading!
In Need Of A Run
Monday, February 4th, 2019 was the day when fate would pit Travis Kauffman against the forces of nature in a fight of the fittest. It started off as what would have been a tranquil day. He was someone who enjoyed taking runs so much so that it had become a part of his daily routine. For Travis, not only was it a healthy practice that he had adopted, but it had become a way of life and one of his favorite pastimes.
Over the course of time, he had developed his own quirky running habits and general preferences when it came to runs. He tried his best to vary his route and surroundings – that way, he could take in more of life and see something new. That day, as he recounted in an interview with CNN, he was feeling for a “pretty long, scenic run.” Where did his wishes end up taking him?
Lory State Park, Colorado
Longing to be one with nature on his run, Travis elected to go to none other than Lory State Park, one of the most popular parks in the county. Actually, it’s pretty common for folk to go there to either do mountain biking, horseback riding or even hiking. Furthermore, the park also boasts a pump track for those interested in those activities. In Travis’ case, he just wanted a run.
For him, Lory State Park offered the perfect combination of beautiful scenery and a peaceful environment. Travis always enjoyed being surrounded by nature whenever he ran – it gave him a sense of tranquility and stillness which was so important to him while running. Little did he know, his decision to take a run in this park would have granted him anything but peace and tranquility.
Interestingly enough, apart from going to Lory State Park, Travis also knew that he wanted to do his run up a specific road at the park, namely Towers Road. Apart from being in the heart of nature, something else drew him to this particular road – the fact that it went up along a hill. It was a steep climb, but for Travis, it was exactly what he was looking for.
“I knew that I wanted to do Towers because I just wanted to give myself a hill challenge,” were his post-attack comments in his interview with CNN. As far as Travis was concerned, all he wanted was a track which would give his body a bit of a challenge. He enjoyed challenges, and at that point, he felt that his body was up for it. He could have never expected just how much of a challenge he was in for.
Taking It All In
With his mind set on his run, Travis set off up along Towers Road. Of course, the possibility that he was about to be viciously attacked by a mountain lion never crossed his mind during the run. As far as he was concerned, he was in a peaceful area surrounded by nature. Along the journey, he tried his best to take in his surroundings. He always felt that the park was a beautiful one, and he tried to make the most of it.
As he ran along the trail, he was awed by the beautiful, lush, green vegetation and amazing pools which were found in the park. He was a true lover of nature and enjoyed being surrounded by it. For him, it was one of the best ways to calm his spirit and to concentrate fully on his run. He was so happy that he decided to come to Lory State Park: he wouldn’t have had it any differently.
The Challenge Of Towers Road
Travis was up for a challenge: he wanted to make his run a pretty tough one. In his interview with CNN, he regarded the road as a “really steep 4×4 road – I’d say about 90% grade on average.” He also mentioned that he had to run nearly 4 miles to make it to the summit of the road. Understandably so, this type of route is not for the average runner. Running for nearly 4 miles requires a lot of stamina on the part of the runner. Was Travis fit for the challenge?
Travis felt that he was. By that time, he had amassed a lot of experience as a runner. He had traversed several different types of terrain and was as seasoned a runner as he could be. He believed that his body could have handled such a strenuous run and had no fear of any possible mishap. But, the question still remained: could he do it?
It was the moment of truth for Travis: would he be able to successfully complete his run? To run uphill for nearly 4 miles was, indeed, not an easy feat. Thankfully, he was able to make it to the top without any difficulty! Clearly, Travis was a seasoned-runner who knew how to pace himself as he did his run. He might have been exhausted by the time he got to the top, but as far as he was concerned, it was totally worth it!
When he got to the top, he was able to relax and take in the view. From his spot, he could have seen Fort Collins as well as the remainder of the mountain ranges. He was fascinated by the amazing sights and beautiful scenery. He loved this spot and was now reaping the rewards of his hard work. What was his next move going to be?
Now that Travis had taken in all there was to take in from the beautiful scenery, it was time to continue on to his next stop: one thing’s for sure, it didn’t disappoint. Travis had planned to continue down to Horsetooth Rock, a major landmark and point of interest for several tourists and runners alike. Travis had premeditated this entire trajectory from even before he started the run. He knew that this was the course that he wanted to take, and he was going to stick to it.
Travis was a methodical runner and great planner. He always enjoyed mapping out his route in advance so that he didn’t waste any time when he’s actually running. He knew that if he were to begin his run already knowing where he was heading, the run would have gone smoothly and he would not have had any mishaps. Sadly, there was one major obstacle which prevented Travis from accomplishing this route.
Travis really wanted to follow the route down to Horsetooth Rock – he was a fan of the view there and wanted to end his run with yet another beautiful site. Unfortunately, after only getting in about a quarter-of-a-mile into the run, he realized that there was a bit of ice on the trail. What would he do? Running on an icy trail is never a good option: he’d be risking his life if he were to make one false step.
Thankfully, Travis made the right decision and turned around. He thought that it wasn’t worth it: after all, if he were to slip and fall, depending on his injuries, he could be seriously hurt. He figured that he might take his chances and turn into the West-Ridge trail, one which he hoped would have eventually led him back down into Towers Road where he would have probably returned to his original starting point. Unfortunately for him, as soon as he started on that route, he realized that it might have been wiser to take the icy trail.
Lurking In The Forest
Dejected that he couldn’t follow his regular route, Travis decided to head back in the direction of Towers Road. With that, he began the descent down the other trail hoping to get things over with quickly. Thankfully, he was surrounded by beauty, something which always kept him cool, calm, and collected. However, nature isn’t always as peaceful as we might like. Sometimes, it raises its ugly head towards us, menacing us with its ferocity just before it gets ready to pounce.
Travis had barely been running into his new route when he heard the rustle of trees, a sound which let him know that he was by no means alone in his run. He told CNN “I ended up hearing some pine needles rustle, like a stick break.” What was lurking in the bushes keeping an eye on Travis? Was it an innocent camper trying to find his way back to the main road, or was it something dangerous?
The Big Reveal
It was clear that out of all the possibilities in the world, Travis had gotten the short end of the stick, and this time, he would have wished that he could have gotten anything else. When he turned in the direction of the noise he heard, he saw what was making those sounds, and believe you me, he wasn’t happy: he was staring right at a mountain lion.
He described his initial feelings in his interview with CNN as being “pretty bummed-out to see a mountain lion chasing after me.” While Travis might have handled the interview calmly, at that moment, he was nothing but calm. There he was, face-to-face with a dangerous predator which could have easily killed him: how would he proceed?
A Look At The Beast
It was obvious that Travis’ luck had run out. He was now alone along an abandoned trail with a wild mountain lion for company: Travis knew that he was in for the worst. Mountain lions, which are more commonly known as cougars or pumas, are some of the most dangerous mammals which one can ever encounter in North America. Apart from their huge size and quick speed, their bite force is one of the most powerful among wild cats.
It’s also interesting to know that this type of mammal is generally known for being an ambush predator. Mountain lions enjoy skillfully and silently stalking their prey before going in for the kill. How would Travis manage against such a formidable foe? Would this signal the end for him, or would he somehow manage to best the beast?
Playing It Cool
How would Travis react in such a dangerous situation? His life was on the line. There he was, practically in the middle of nowhere with a mountain lion charging at him with full force. What would he do? Would he try and stay, or would he run away? Well, Travis didn’t have much time to spare, so he had to think fast. What was his method of choice to keep the mountain lion away?
“I stopped and I threw my hands in the air, and I started shouting,” was what he told CNN News after the fact. Travis had hoped that adopting such an aggressive posture might have dissuaded the cat from pursuing him any further. It was rapidly approaching him, so he felt that his best bet might have been to scare it off. Was he successful, or were his efforts all in vain?
An Act In Futility
Were his attempts any help? Not a chance. “Unfortunately, the shouts didn’t deter it.” Sadly for Travis, his hopes didn’t come to fruition. His one initial reflex didn’t come close to helping his situation. But he didn’t have any time to think: the mountain lion was rapidly approaching him, and he had nothing to defend himself with. What could he do now? Was there an object nearby like a rock or a log that he could grab to try to defend himself? Was he going to make it out alive?
Unfortunately for him, he had run out of time. Before he knew it, the mountain lion was on him, and it meant serious business! It lunged at him and tried to scrape away at his face. In that very moment, Travis was stunned. He couldn’t believe that such a ferocious attack was happening to him. Unable to logically process anything, his body did its best to react as best as it could to the oncoming onslaught from the wild cat.
With his back against the wall (figuratively speaking), Travis had run out of options. He knew that he had to brace the storm and survive the attack somehow. He would have to take the bull by the horns and do his best to make it out alive. Recognizing that a simple scare-strategy was categorically unsuccessfully, he decided to switch to a more practical tactic: defense.
When the mountain lion lunged towards his face, he instinctively responded by raising his arms in an effort to block it. He knew that if the cat were able to claw away at an eye, he would be doomed. To have to deal with a scratched-up face while fighting off a cougar wasn’t exactly something that he would willingly go for, especially considering that he could try to avoid it. Thankfully, he was able to avoid the first blow from the cat. But, what would be the next attack and how would he defend himself?
A Second Jab
Having managed to block the cat’s initial attack, Travis was in the clear. But that only lasted for a second: the mountain lion was quick to follow up with a couple of other swings. It was hell-bent on getting at Travis’ face – it wanted to claw away and probably blind him, thus making him an easier prey to defeat. Therefore, it lunged at him again, this time, grabbing his wrist and yanking his hand away from the protection of his face, leaving a clear passage to what it wanted to attack.
With an opening, the mountain lion continued its attack. It began clawing away viciously at Travis’ neck and face trying desperately to cleave some flesh off of him. It managed to nick him in the neck and lip. Travis was desperately trying to defend himself from the attack, but he was fighting an uphill battle. He knew then and there that he had to do something to stay in the game: if not, it would signal the end of him.
Travis was in a serious jam. He was being assaulted by one of the most vicious mammals you could have found in North America. His body was still in shock, so much so that it was difficult to process the entire ordeal, let alone to come up with a logical course of action. At that point, it was survival of the fittest and he knew that if he were to continue passively defending, chances are, he would lose the battle and with that, his life.
It was at the moment when the cat made another lunge for his face that Travis decided to enter into full-on attack mode. He told CNN that when the cat started getting closer and closer to his eyes, he “tried to throw it off,” as he knew that if he didn’t, the cat would succeed in blinding him and probably killing him. He was desperate: he had to do something. Would it work?
Realizing that he was close losing his life, Travis knew that he had to act quickly. His body was still reeling from the shock of such a sudden attack. He could have never anticipated that he would be face-to-face with a mountain lion. All he wanted to do was take a peaceful run and bask in nature. He desperately wanted to relax and to forget all the troubles of the world. Now, he was doing anything but that.
Things were happening so quickly that he didn’t have time to rationally think about anything. His body was simply reacting to the attack: his survival instincts had completely taken over. He could no longer think about the future as if he didn’t fight back, that wouldn’t be certain. With all his strength, he pushed the mountain lion off of him hoping that he could get away. What happened?
When Travis attempted to push the mountain lion off of him, he had no idea whether it would work. After all, he had just completed several miles of running: he was physically and mentally exhausted. Furthermore, the mountain lion wasn’t exactly your average house cat – it was pretty big, therefore, it would require a lot of strength to push it off. Thankfully, his body was able to muster up enough strength to repel the beast.
Travis was, for a moment, partially relieved. In pushing the cougar away, he had managed to establish a bit of distance between them. Most importantly, he was able to temporarily stop it from clawing away at his face. However, the battle wasn’t over. What Travis didn’t expect was that in pushing the mountain lion away, something else could have happened which would have put his own life in jeopardy.
When Travis tried to push the mountain lion away, he wasn’t thinking about the possible consequences: as far as he was concerned, the predator was trying to kill him, so the natural reaction would be to get away from it as soon as possible. That said, in doing so, he ended up falling with the mountain lion down the side of the trail leading south.
He ended up falling with the mountain lion because the animal was still trying to paw its way towards Travis’ face. Therefore, in the confusion, he lost his balance, and before he knew it, he was rolling down the trail along with his attacker. What would happen next? Would he be able to run away from the animal quickly and get help, or would the onslaught continue?
Time Rages On
As he tumbled down the trail with his attacker, Travis could barely think things through clearly. How could something so horrible happen to him? Would he make it out alive? How badly would he be injured? The only thing which occupied his mind was making it out alive. He couldn’t even contemplate the possibility of seeing his family and friends again – things were happening so quickly that he had had no time. It was survival of the fittest.
All that mattered to him was that moment. It didn’t matter what happened in five minutes because that wasn’t promised. He had to figure out how to do something quickly. Of course, Travis recognized that he had to get out quickly for fear that something worse could happen.
Travis and the cougar were tumbling down the hill at full force. In those moments, he instinctively felt that he had to act quickly: if not, he might not get the chance to see another day. As soon as they stopped rolling, Travis knew that he had to make the first move. Knowing that, as soon as they had come to a halt, Travis tried his best to get on top of the mountain lion to pin it down.
Of course, this task proved to be anything but easy. He was dealing with a huge, heavy animal which obviously wouldn’t have cooperated with him. The two got into a serious wrestling match – it was truly a battle of the fittest. Who would have emerged victorious? Would he be able to get on top of the mountain lion without much of a hassle?
Anything But Easy
Travis knew that he was up for a tough battle. Mountain lions were tough cookies to crack. He was aware that they were extremely dangerous animals which could easily take out a human in combat. He was also aware of the fact that his physical strength and stamina were rapidly dwindling because of the physical activity he had done earlier.
Obviously, he still wasn’t able to process the shock of such a horrific encounter. He was so focused on trying to stay alive that thinking about anything else was completely out of the question. Still, while attacks like this don’t happen every day in North America, they aren’t exactly uncommon.
A History Of Violence
In as much as Travis could have never predicted that he would come face-to-face with a gigantic mountain lion in such a setting, to hear about such an occurrence wasn’t exactly uncommon. In fact, cougars have had a bit of a history when it comes to deadly encounters with humans, particularly in North America where at least 50 confirmed attacks have been reported.
This is something which never used to happen before. However, nowadays, people are encroaching on the territory of cougars in countries like the U.S and Canada. As a result, people tend to encounter cougars, among other animals, more frequently. Sadly, some of the encounters do not end well for those people involved: was Travis’ own going to be the same? Would he make it out alive, or would he be added to the statistics of those who have fallen in battle against mountain lions?
Travis wrestled with the cougar for what felt like an eternity. He was fighting desperately to get on top of the mountain lion. He hoped that he would have been able to pin it down and stop it from moving, but it kept struggling relentlessly. Thankfully, after a while, he was finally able to get on top of it and pin it to the ground.
“I was able to get on top of it, pin it’s back legs so I didn’t get any soft tissue scratched out in my nether-regions,” were his words to officials at his CNN interview. He had accomplished one task successfully and managed to subdue part of the ferocious creature’s anger. That said, he still had quite a bit of work to do.
A Race Against The Clock
Having successfully pinned down the cougar, Travis now had to decide on another plan. How best should he continue in this situation? He still had to overcome the worst. Irrespective of whether the mountain lion was unable to move or not, it was still kicking up quite a storm trying to get itself free. One false move and that could be the end of him.
Travis didn’t have much time to think. Every second he spent deciding on a course of action also meant that he was losing strength. He knew that he couldn’t fight with the cougar forever: he had to think of something which would end things sooner rather than later.
Travis was pressed for a quick solution to end his struggle with the cougar. With that, he did the logical thing that anyone would do: find a weapon to deliver the finishing blow. “At that point, I was grabbing around for sticks,” was what he told CNN: easier said than done. While Travis had managed to get on top of the mountain lion, he still had a bit of a compromise. “I only had my left hand free, my right hand was still locked in its jaws,” he stated.
This made the task all the more difficult for an already exhausted Travis. He could only use his left hand to feel around for something which he could use to strike the mountain lion. He was also very much worried about the fact that his right hand was still stuck in the beast’s jaws. The cougar seemed to have no intention to let go of its prey, so Travis had to move swiftly in order to escape danger.
Travis knew that the first step to safety was to free his trapped hand from the cougar’s jaws. With that, he grabbed a few sticks with his left hand and attempted to stab the mountain lion in the throat all with the hope that the animal would release his hand. He was desperate to get away from it and would have tried any and everything to free himself, even if it meant killing an animal.
Unfortunately for Travis, his plan didn’t work. He told CNN News that “that didn’t work, the sticks were breaking,” a statement which indicates that the sticks which he had picked up weren’t strong enough to cause the animal to release him. Clearly, using sticks against the animal was of no use: he had to find something which could have had a stronger impact on the animal.
Finding A Real Weapon
Travis began looking for something which he believed would have done some serious damage to the beast, and he knew just what to get. Despite the rushing adrenaline and inability to process what was going on, Travis was still very much alert. In the midst of the melee, he recalled having seen something which might have come in handy: a rock.
“I picked up a rock that I had seen kind of near us. It was pretty heavy and kind of hard to wield.” With that, Travis now had a weapon which he could use against the creature. With it, he gave the mountain lion two strong blows to the back of the head which he hoped would have destabilized it, therefore giving him enough time to remove his arm from its jaw when it releases him.
Travis was sure to give the mountain lion two solid lashes behind the head hoping that it would release him. Unfortunately, his efforts were in vain. The beast didn’t let go of his arm: it had no intention of doing so. At that moment, he knew that he had to do something drastic to force the beast to open its jaw and free his arm.
He was now desperately searching for another tactic which he could try. He had done practically everything he could think of. He used sticks, but they didn’t work. He tried using a heavy rock and bashed it several times in the head, but once again, it didn’t work. What was the next step?
Coming Up With Something
Travis was running out of options. He tried his best to think about a way in which he could free himself from the mountain lion’s clutches, but for a while, nothing came to him. Then, finally, he got an idea, one which he believed would be the key to getting away from the beast.
One of the main issues which Travis was experiencing related to the fact that he was awkwardly positioned. He explained in the conference with CNN that he couldn’t quite deal the animal a proper blow because his body was placed in such a compromising position from having to restrain the animal’s hind legs. He came up with a plan: readjust his position so that he could place his foot on the mountain lion’s neck, hopefully suffocating it in the process.
Taking A Chance
Having run out of all possible options, Travis decided to give it a go. With that, he pressed his right foot into the mountain lion’s neck in order for it to release his hand from his jaw. He could do nothing but wait and see what would happen. There was no telling whether this would bring him any results.
For minutes, he waited for a reaction. After a while, the cougar started acting up, flailing wildly trying to shake Travis’ foot off of its neck. “Slowly after a few minutes, I thought I’d be getting close, and then it’d start thrashing again,” he said. In the process, he got a couple more bruises and scratches from the animal’s flailing. But for Travis, that was the least of his worries. Would the cougar let go of his hand?
For Travis, those minutes he spent waiting for the animal to let him go were long and arduous. He felt as if the creature would never open its jaws and set him free. Thankfully, despite the horrible incident which had happened to him thus far, he hadn’t run out of luck yet. After some time, the beast gradually released its jaws, thereby allowing Travis to quickly remove his arm and sprint up the hill away from danger.
As he made his way up the hill, Travis was still fearing that the worst could happen. Even though the beast seemed dead, for all he knew, it might have just been unconscious. As far as he was concerned, he had to ensure that he got as far away from the incident as possible. With that, he sprinted in search of help.
Travis ran as quickly as he could in the opposite direction to where the mountain lion was located. Even though he was pretty sure that the animal was dead, he didn’t want to take any chances. He made his way as speedily as he could in search of human life. Thankfully, he managed to find some good samaritans who were able to help him.
In his press conference with CNN following the incident, he credited a guy by the name of Spencer. He stated that Spencer was the first runner who he encountered. He also said that Spencer was extremely helpful, accompanying him as he made his way out of the park in search of medical attention. He was grateful that someone had made the effort to do that for him, and for that, he was thankful.
In the press conference, Travis was also sure to highlight the help of two people who were instrumental in the aftermath of the entire ordeal: Rachelle and Noah. Rachelle was the woman who drove him to the hospital which was where he was treated for his wounds. Thankfully, he didn’t have any major tissue damage: a lot of the injuries were superficial and could be treated easily.
The other person who he thanked was Noah. He said that Noah was kind enough to drive his truck all the way to the hospital from where it was parked. Noah also brought Travis’s phone and other belongings to him in the hospital so that he could remain connected with his friends and family.
Reliving The Experience
After he received medical attention for his wounds, Travis took the time to sit with CNN for a press conference in which he shared a lot of detail about the attack and his overall feeling after the event. Understandably so, he expressed shock that he was a victim of such a violent attack.
He stated that he was scared during the entire ordeal. Although it may have lasted just 10 minutes, to Travis, it felt like a lot longer. For him, one of the scariest parts was when the mountain lion held his hand in his mouth. He explained that the cougar kept such a firm grip that he felt that he could have lost his hand. But, for him, there were scarier things to worry about.
Prepare For Trouble, And Make It Double
Although losing a hand was a scary thought, Travis said that the thing which scared him the most was the possibility that a second mountain lion might have come to the first one’s aid. “One of my big fears throughout the whole thing was another cat coming along,” he expressed. He acknowledged that the cat which attacked him seemed to be pretty young. Therefore, there was a high chance that it wasn’t alone.
If a second cat were to join the fray, Travis knew that he would be doomed. He had already had such difficulty trying to kill one, so there was no way that he could have handled two at once. Thankfully, a second cat never showed up, allowing him to focus specifically on the one cat which was assaulting him. Talk about counting your blessings!
Fear Of Death
Another major fear which bogged Travis’ mind during the entire attack was the possibility that he might not make it out alive. Even though he was deathly afraid of a second cat joining in on the action, one was still a lot to deal with. For a moment, he actually considered the possibility that this trail might have been his death bed.
He had no idea how things would have gone. He was fighting a battle of death against one of nature’s most dangerous predators. He could end up dead at any moment. However, luck was on his side, and he came out on top.
Surviving On Adrenaline
By his own admission, Travis believes that the exceedingly high levels of adrenaline rush which flooded his body allowed him to keep up the spirits. There were times when he felt like he wouldn’t have made it. He was almost resigned to his fate and felt that the worst was going to happen.
He claims that if it wasn’t for the adrenaline rush, he probably might have not survived the attack. The energies flowing in his veins allowed him to awaken his survival instincts and do everything possible to survive. So many times, he envisioned the worse: luckily, those thoughts never became a reality. But he wasn’t the only person who was worried.
Although Travis expressed how nervous and fearful for his life he was during the attack, another person who seemed visibly shaken by the ordeal was his partner, Annie Bierbouer. She attended the press conference and was notably relieved to know that her significant other was safe and sound.
She was so proud of his heroic achievement and was so glad to know that he made it out in one piece without any serious injuries. He was also very happy to be alive and to be afforded the chance to be with her. Had things gone badly, he would have died, leaving Annie alone and saddened by his loss. But that wasn’t the case: the couple was happy to know that Travis had managed to dodge a bullet.
All in all, Travis Kauffman knows that he is a very lucky man. He admits that had things gone differently, he probably wouldn’t be alive today. Thanks to his quick thinking and survival instincts which came into play, he is now afforded a chance to continue living a relatively normal life.
This attack is one which changed his life forever. Not only is he more cautious and selective about the areas where he frequently runs, but he also has a newfound appreciation for life and a stronger will to live. In a sense, this assault allowed him to value his own life and the part that other people whom he loves have to play in it.