If you were hiking down a remote wilderness trail armed with only an ice ax and bear spray, would you follow a mountain lion you spotted on the trail ahead?
Brian McKinney and Sam Vonderheide did just that while hiking on High Sierra trail in California. When Vonderheide claimed he spotted a mountain lion, McKinney didn't believe him, so he got out his phone and followed the creature down the trail. As you can see in the video, it's pretty obvious the animal they are following is a mountain lion.
As they rounded a curve in the trail, they are shocked to find the mountain lion staring intently at them just off the trail on an elevated spot a short distance away.
"What are you supposed to do?" one hiker whispered. The other answered: "I don't know. I don't think you're supposed to run."
You can hear the hikers contemplating their next move on the video. Eventually they back down the trail and the clip ends.
But the men told ABC News that the encounter didn't end there.
They waited for the cat to leave and tried scaring it from the trail, so they could continue to the place they wanted to set up camp, but the lion didn't budge.
"She just looked at us like she was entertained," he said. "So we gave up."
The men turned back and set up camp in another area, where they admittedly got little sleep. The next day they continued their nearly two-week-long hike up Mount Whitney, armed with only the ice ax and a bear whistle.
When they crossed the path where they had encountered the lion the day before, the only traces they found were the paw marks it'd left behind.
Wildlife biologist Daniel Gammons said the hikers responded correctly by staying calm.
"The big thing these visitors did right was that they didn't panic and run," Gammons said. "Probably the most important message to get out to visitors is not to act like prey if they encounter a mountain lion."
Mountain lion experts recommend making yourself appear big by waving your arms overhead and scaring off the animal.
So, what would you have done in this situation? Should the guys have continued down the trail when they first spotted the lion or returned the way they came?
Stephanie Mallory is a mom, a hunter and Realtree’s PR Coordinator. She’s here to deliver an insider’s look at the outdoor business and give her opinion on all things outdoors—whether you asked for it or not.