Wait...Was that a Mountain Lion?

I'm not sure how or why, but for some odd reason I've developed a huge fear of mountain lions. Personally, I blame Google and its abundant availability of frightening information. Naturally, this phobia was top-of-mind when my sister and I visited Curt Gowdy State Park in Wyoming a few weeks ago. The park is about half an hour outside of Cheyenne and, other than a looming fear of being pounced on by an oversized, hungry cat, it's an awesome place to hike, horseback ride, or hang out on the lake. Upon entering the park, I decided to take control of my own destiny by casually inquiring about mountain lions as I paid my entrance fee to a park employee who was manning a small booth. "Soo," I said in my most relaxed voice possible. "Do we need to be worried about mountain lions?" "Umm, probably not," she said, holding back a smile. "They're very reclusive. They rarely come down to these parts, with all the people and all." Yes, of course. How silly of me.

This information allowed me to (semi) relax while we snacked on apples and cheese before starting our hike. As we ate, we checked out a map of the trail system and selected a trail that would lead to a "hidden waterfall." I started up the trail cautiously, hoping I didn't smell too much like apples and cheese, and crossing my fingers that I wouldn't become a mid-afternoon snack myself. We'd seen a black bear earlier that day (from the safety of our car) so I was 100% sure there was dangerous wildlife lurking in the wilderness.

After a while, I started to relax and enjoy the gorgeous scenery. And, by the time we made it to the hidden waterfall, I'd practically forgotten all about mountain lions! Unfortunately, because of the drought, the waterfall had dried up to something similar to a leaky faucet, but it was still pretty nonetheless!

 In the end, our only dangerous encounter was with a mountain biker, who almost flattened us as he came around a corner. Perhaps hiking isn't so bad after all!

Oz? Think again. Adrienne Austin is a blogger from Kansas and the force behind Midwestern Belle, a collection of rural and urban eye candy that begs readers to consider whether their stereotype of the Midwest needs a little updating. You can also find her on Facebook and on Twitter (@aGirlfromKansas.)

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