SEQUOIA NATIONAL PARK - Two hikers walking a High Sierra trail in California's wilderness encountered a wild mountain lion in their path, videotaping part of the nerve-wracking stare-down with the big cat that lasted nearly half an hour.
The video shows the adult lion scurry down a winding trail out of sight. Moments later the hikers slowly round a turn to see it peering down on them from a rocky perch feet away.
Its ears are perked up and head cocked.
"What are you supposed to do?" one hiker whispers. The other answers: "I don't know. I don't think you're supposed to run."
Rangers at Sequoia National Park on Monday posted a link to the two-minute video captured July 23. The clip ends with the hikers slowly backing away, but they said the encounter didn't end there.
Sam Vonderheide, who pressed record on his camera, and his hiking companion, Brian McKinney, told The Tribune newspaper in San Luis Obispo that they were on the first day of an 11-day hike through the Central California mountains.
They waited for the cat to leave and tried rousing it from the trail, so they could continue onto the place they wanted to set up camp. The lion didn't budge.
"For a good 20 to 25 minutes, we tried to scare it, to make noise," McKinney told the newspaper. "It just looked at us."
The two hikers then turned back and set up camp for a restless night's sleep in another area, never seeing it again, they said.
Wildlife biologist Daniel Gammons said the men did the right thing by staying calm. Biologists say you should make yourself appear big by waving your arms overhead and scare off the animal, as the men did.
"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."