by Dee Newman
Several years ago I was out riding my mountain bike just north of the Narrows on an old dirt gravel road, in an area, which I had wanted to explored for sometime. After cresting a hill and heading down the other side I noticed at the bottom in the middle of the road in full profile what seemed to be a very large cougar . . . at least 250 pounds of stealth and power, 8 feet from nose to tail.
At first, my mind refused to believe what I was seeing. Cougars were killed off in Tennessee over 150 years ago. I had read about unconfirmed sightings in Eastern Tennessee in the Great Smoky Mountains over the years, but none here in middle Tennessee.
It was not the first time I had seen a cougar in the wild. While backpacking out west I had seen a number of them from a distance, but this time the length of space separating this cougar from me was rapidly closing.
When I finally came to my senses (just in time) and slammed on my breaks, I was less than 10 yards from this magnificent creature. The eye contact between us will remain in my memory forever.
Sliding sideways my back tire threw dirt and gravel at the large predator. Fortunately, instead of jumping towards me, the cougar leaped to my left, from a standstill, nearly 20 feet into the tall grass and disappeared from view. For a moment I just stood there mesmerized by the movement of the undergrowth as he slowly sauntered away. And then, suddenly, the vegetation stopped moving.
Immediately, I felt the effects of the adrenaline being released into my blood stream. I would not be surprised if it took me less time to peddle up that hill than it did to come down it.
Since then, there have been a number of reported sightings.