Couple encounters mountain lion at Mad Creek near Steamboat |

Couple encounters mountain lion at Mad Creek near Steamboat

Matt Stensland
Steamboat Pilot and Today

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — A Steamboat Springs couple recently had a scary encounter with a mountain lion at Mad Creek, which is about 6 miles north of town.

Mark Stanford and his wife, Kristen Joaquim, were having a picnic Monday for Joaquim’s birthday at the Mad Creek barn, and they started hiking back to the parking area at about 7:45 p.m.

“I looked up and saw a set of eyes staring back at me,” Stanford said.

He said he saw a yellow-green reflection off the eyes, and he tried to size up the animal.

“I could see that it was a big cat,” Stanford said. “I knew that they had sighting ups there.”

He was carrying a firearm, and he shot off a round to try and scare the animal. It ran off, and the couple started hiking again before discovering the animal again on the trail.

They felt like they were being hunted.

“It was just a pretty scary encounter,” Stanford said.

Stanford was grateful his wife did something to alert him to the presence of the mountain lion.

“If she hadn’t done that, and I didn’t have my gun on me, there is a good chance one of us wouldn’t be here,” Stanford said.

Mountain lion sightings in the Mad Creek area are not unusual.

In September 2014, three people jumped on a boulder to get away from a lion, and they defended themselves with sticks.

There have been a few other recent mountain lion encounters in other areas.

Shari Fryer was riding her bike at Lake Catamount when she saw what she thinks were mountain lions.

“I wasn’t 100 percent sure because I was riding my bike as fast as I could,” Fryer said.

She then saw two more lions in a field.

Fryer said that last summer her husband, Darrin Fryer, had a mountain lion run in front of him on the Spring Creek Trail.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife Area Wildlife Manager Kris Middledorf said his office has been dealing with lions in the Whitewood subdivision on the southern part of Emerald Mountain.

“That’s kind of been an ongoing thing over the summer time,” Middledorf said. “In one case, we got a call that there was maybe some intentional feeding of a mountain lion.”

They trapped one last weekend using a piece of a carcass. The lion was tagged and relocated to far northern Routt County.

People who see lions are asked to call Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland.