Lisa Nielsen of Cumberland encountered this cougar at the south end of Buttle Lake after a backcountry camping trip to Bedwell Lake, Big Interior Mountain and Septimus Mountain in Strathcona Park with her boyfriend Caleb Overbye. Photo by Lisa Nielsen

VIDEO: Strathcona Park cougar sighting caps off gruelling trip for backpacking duo

Animal startled while drinking out of Buttle Lake

A cougar sighting lifted the spirits of two exhausted backpackers after they encountered the animal at the south end of Buttle Lake in Strathcona Provincial Park on Sunday.

Lisa Nielsen and Caleb Overbye captured clear footage of a cougar attempting to run up a bluff at the Shepherd Creek Trail pullout around 8:30 p.m. on July 26. The two were returning from a gruelling backpacking trip in the Bedwell Lake area of Strathcona Provincial Park when they spooked the cougar at the end of what was a hot, dry day with temperatures of about 32 C.

“That day was like 32 degrees, like not a cloud in the sky on Sunday and so it was super hot and the cougar had been drinking at the lake,” Nielsen said.

As they came upon the cougar it bolted back across the road and attempted to flee up a bluff that it apparently had come down.

“It was just coming up from the lake, which was right there, to cross the road,” the Comox Valley resident said. “And we came around the corner and spooked it. And of course, the way that it came down was the way that it tried to run up, which is why in the video, you’ll see it tries to scale this rock wall and it actually falls and it’s hanging from a tree and then tries to scale it again (and) realizes it can’t get up. That’s when it runs back down and runs behind my car.”

The whole encounter only lasted about 30 seconds but it left an impression on Nielsen.

“It was super cool,” she said.

She grew up in northern B.C. so she is no stranger to wildlife encounters but it was still impressive to see the big cat so close.

“It was like 15 feet away,” Nielsen said. “It was pretty special.”

This came after a tough backpacking trip and lifted the pair’s spirits.

“So it was a big, buggy, hot, sweaty trip and we were just so happy to be back in the car and then kind of feeling a little, like, disheartened, I guess, after the weekend of abuse and then we saw that and…then it was so great.

“So it totally made the trip worth it.”

RELATED: Cougar destroyed in Penticton area after mauling dog, killing cat

RELATED: Cute, fluffy, heartwarming: Here are B.C.’s top animal stories of 2019


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Caleb Overbye (left) and Lisa Nielsen encountered a cougar at the south end of Buttle Lake July returning home from a gruelling backpacking trip to the Bedwell Lake area of Strathcona Park. Photo courtesy Lisa Nielsen

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