Aug. 9 (UPI) -- Two men hiking in California's Sequoia National Park captured video of their uncomfortably close encounter with a mountain lion.
Sam Vonderheide and Brian McKinney said they were on the first day of their 11-day hike on the High Sierra Trail when they spotted the cougar about 8 miles from Crescent Meadow.
"We were getting close to where we were going to camp -- or intended to camp -- and we came around the corner and I saw a body moving through these bushes and thought maybe it'd be a deer or something," Vonderheide told KSBY-TV. "But immediately, I see a long tail after it, and I'm like, 'That's a mountain lion.'"
A video posted to YouTube by McKinney shows the two men debating what they should do while the mountain lion watches them from its perch on a rock about 15 feet away.
"At that point, we were even more scared. I mean, adrenaline is pumping. I don't want to mess with a mountain lion. It will definitely win every day of the week," Vonderheide told KFSN-TV.
Vonderheide said the mountain lion jumped down onto the path after the end of the video, so he and McKinney decided to back away slowly.
"We weren't trying to mess with it or anything like that, believe me. I'm very risk-averse and did not want to mess with a mountain lion that day," Vonderheide said. "I think I was a little fearful for my life. It appeared to be full grown, probably twice my volume in full muscle -- nothing that I could contend with."
McKinney said they tried to keep mountain lion safety in mind as they escaped the situation.
"We both knew, 'Don't run and try to make loud noises,' but when you're actually in the situation, instinct can take over and it's hard to follow what you know is the right thing to do," McKinney said. "I think we did an OK job with just standing our ground and slowly backing up."
The men said a park ranger told them it was a rare encounter. They said the ranger told them the big cat had likely just eaten and was finishing off its meal when they came across it.
The men said the cougar had left the area when they returned to the same spot the following day.
They said they also encountered a bear and a rattlesnake during their hike, but those encounters weren't nearly as close.