We were at Camp Gladwin, named for Harold Gladwin who visited the area in about 1928, for our continuing work in the Sierra Ancha cliff dwellings located in a wilderness area north and east of Phoenix.
Our camp was about 30 miles in from a small paved road. 30 miles of a rough and winding dirt road and we were 1½ hours from ‘town’ so when I say wilderness I mean it!
Elaine H. didn’t care much for tenting so she had fixed up the back of her SUV truck for nighttime sleeping-open hatch with screen surrounding the opening.
She had her truck parked in a mesquite bosque just off the dirt road and was about 1000 meters from the main camp.
She came to me one morning at breakfast and said, “I was awaken last night by a strange noise.”
She described it as a “breathy” hoo (pause) hoo sound.
The only thing I could think of that could possibly make that eerie sound would be a big cat! As it walked and put down a paw air would be ‘pushed’ out of it’s lungs causing this strange breathy sound.
This area has the highest black bear population in the Arizona but I didn’t think it was bear.
I said, “Lets have a look around your truck.”
Sure enough, when we looked at the ground around her truck there were huge cat prints circling her truck! Really big paw prints, sign of a huge cat-mountain lion, Puma or whatever other name this cat is called.
She and the cat were separated by a mere 2 millimeters of screen!
Elaine moved her truck closer to camp that day.
As someone said, "Good thing she didn't have a can of tuna in there!"