Some of us collect anecdotes of stupid hikers at Whiting:
I met him just as he was coming off the Edison Trail in Whiting Ranch, a small, spindly man with no hair, shorts, a short-sleeved plaid shirt, and a pair of earbuds blasting Beethoven as loud as he could stand it. A few months before I had met a mountain lion on this very trail, so I stopped him.
“There’s deer up there at the end of the trail,” he said, waving his arm in the general direction of nowhere in particular. I have to admit that I was surprised that he saw them.
“There’s also mountain lion up there,” I said, motioning to his earbuds.
“Oh yes,” he shouted with a smile and went on his way.
A more recent and sadder tale was the killing of a mountain lion. This woman brought her young children into a wilderness area. Plenty of signs warned that a mountain lion had been seen along this trail. Did this stop the mother from proceeding with her toddlers? No, she had read that it was a great family hike. Besides, the sign said that the mountain lion had been there a week before. Certainly it had moved on by this time. The young cat naturally took an interest in the bite sized treats that followed her. When she noticed, she summoned a biker who threw rocks at it. But instead of running away, it crouched.
Now here is where the controversy lies: was it crouching because it was preparing to attack or because it was tired and wanted to watch from a position of comfort? The Department of Fish and Game took no chances and hunted the beast down.
This isn’t the first time that I’ve heard of people bringing their young kids into Whiting. I’ve personally warned some parents about the dangers. One or two have turned back, but the rest went brashly forward as if there was no problem. Or they got mad at me for scaring their kids. Some even hike in flip-flops and low cut walking shoes, which you don’t want to do in rattlesnake country (I saw five rattlesnakes in Whiting and nearby O’Neill Regional Park last year).
Then there was the story of the couple who pushed a stroller with twins all the way from the head of the Borrego Trail to the top of Dreaded Hill and back. Did the warning of a park volunteer put sense into their heads? No, they figured they wanted the exercise and didn’t want to leave their kids at home.
Whiting is clearly delineated on the map, but stupidity knows no bounds.