Around the World on a Bicycle

In 1884, the 29 year old Thomas Stevens set out from San Fransisco on the 'modern mechanical invention' of the Penny Farthing to circumnavigate the globe on his 'big wheel'. His book - "Around the World on a Bicycle" - was published in 1888 and his writings are presented here in blog form. Read more in the archive.

Incident with a mountain lion

Little riding is possible all through this section of Nevada, and, in order to complete the forty miles a day that I have rigorously imposed upon myself, I sometimes get up and pull out at daylight. It is scarce more than sunrise when, following the railroad through Five-mile Canon - another rift through one of the many mountain chains that cross this part of Nevada in all directions under the general name of the Humboldt Mountains - I meet with a startling adventure. I am trundling through the canyon alongside the river, when, rounding the sharp curve of a projecting mountain, a tawny mountain lion is perceived trotting leisurely along ahead of me, not over a hundred yards in advance. He hasn't seen me yet; he is perfectly oblivious of the fact that he is in "the presence." A person of ordinary discretion would simply have revealed his presence by a gentlemanly sneeze, or a slight noise of any kind, when the lion would have immediately bolted back into the underbrush. Unable to resist the temptation, I fired at him, and of course missed him, as a person naturally would at a hundred yards with a bull-dog revolver. The bullet must have singed him a little though, for, instead of wildly scooting for the brush, as I anticipated, he turns savagely round and comes bounding rapidly toward me, and at twenty paces crouches for a spring. Laying his cat-like head almost on the ground, his round eyes flashing fire, and his tail angrily waving to and fro, he looks savage and dangerous. Crouching behind the bicycle, I fire at him again. Nine times out of ten a person will overshoot the mark with a revolver under such circumstances, and, being anxious to avoid this, I do the reverse, and fire too low. The ball strikes the ground just in front of his head, and throws the sand and gravel in his face, and perhaps in his wicked round eyes; for he shakes his head, springs up, and makes off into the brush. I shall shed blood of some sort yet before I leave Nevada. There isn't a day that I don't shoot at something or other; and all I ask of any animal is to come within two hundred yards and I will squander a cartridge on him, and I never fail to hit the ground.

Posted in stevens blog by Thomas Stevens on Saturday 10th May 1884 (10:00 +0000) | Add a comment | Permalink

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