Cowichan Valley resident describes ‘experience of a lifetime’ with cougar
'When you look at its forearms, those are getting close to the size of my legs'
Arend Scholten drove to a quiet backroad near the Trans Canada Trail in the Cowichan Valley, then walked through the forest to a slow-running creek for some quiet time with nature. When the 34-year-old carpenter returned to his van, it didn’t take long for an unexpected visitor to show up.
“This movement caught my eye,” Scholten told sixmountains.ca. “I looked up and there’s a cougar walking towards the van.”
Scholten began taking video from the driver’s seat and as the cougar approached the van, he rolled down the window for a better view. The sound was just enough to spook the cat; it retreated back across the road, but then sat down.
When Scholten opened his door, the cougar “turned tail and ran.” But the story doesn’t end there.
“I was having too good of a time. I did think safety, but I didn’t get the feeling that I was on the menu.”
He started walking down the trail to the creek again for 20 seconds and spotted the cougar — camouflaged in the forest and peeking back at him, 12 metres away.
“I was pretty flabbergasted,” says Scholten, a life-long resident of the Cowichan Valley. “I was fortunate to get to look at it — as man to cat — no van between us. I’d always wanted that kind of an encounter.”
Scholten had three earlier encounters with cougars in the Cowichan Valley.
Once, a cougar ran across the road in front of his vehicle, and twice he spotted a cougar while on his mountain bike — including a night-time encounter on the Trans Canada Trail in which the cat’s eyes glowed from the forest.
But none matched this latest experience, which occurred mid-morning about one year ago.
“It’s amazing. When you look at its forearms, those are getting close to the size of my legs.
“It was definitely the experience of a lifetime.”
(Arend Scholten video/photos)
(Special thanks to Lon Wood)
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— Larry Pynn, March 11, 2023