Written by a wilderness ranger about events on 07/22/2005 on the Rich Ck Trail in the Buffalo Peaks Wilderness. This is one reason I have/carry firearms. I showed up at the Rich Creek Trailhead at about 12:30 P.M. on a sunny and unusually hot day. My intention was to hike the Rich Ck. and Rough and Tumbling loop. This is a 13.5 mile loop, in the Buffalo Peaks Wilderness, popular with backpackers. After checking the register and eating some lunch I was on my way. It was about 4 miles up the trail before I decided to look for a place to camp for the night. I left the trail and started up a hillside. After looking around for a while I found a spot that would work well. The Rich Ck. valley sits at about 11,000 ft. It has wide open areas, patches of pines and aspen mixed in with many small rocky cliff areas on the side slopes. I found a good spot on the western side to set up my one man tent. When I set up my tent I was most concerned with the weather moving over the ridge from the west. I set it up in a spot with some protection from weather but also hidden out of sight of the trail. I was pearched on a rock outcropping with big views up and down the valley. By time I set up my tent the weather had broken up and it was hot again. I left camp and continued up the trail almost to Buffalo Meadows. After working on some illeagal camp sites, I checked in with the Leadville Ranger District, turned around and hiked back down to camp. I returned to camp at about 5:45 P.M. When I returned I prepared my dinner at a site about 100 ft. from my tent. After dinner I went and hung my food in a tree at least 200 ft. away from my tent As the sun creeped up the opposite slope I went out on to the rock outcropping to read my book. About 2 pages in to it I decided to reteat to my tent because the bugs were so thick. My tent is really small so I didn’t want to head in, but I had enough of the bugs that evening. I was only about 5-10 minutes in to my book when I began to here noises. I didn’t here any noises loud enough to really bother me . I would stop reading for 5 seconds, listen for a moment, then return to reading. This happened 3-4 times before I heard a noise that had me dropping my book and scrambling for my tent zipper. I opened my tent only to see a mountain lion approximately 10 ft. in front of my tent. I quickly realized laying down in my tent was not where I wanted to be, so I slowly stood up. I was very calm trying to not make sudden movements or look at it in the eyes. Once I stood up I saw 3 more Mountain lions, 1 to my left and 2 to my right, behind a couple of trees, about 30 ft. away. I new I had to make my self look big, so I reached down and grabbed my sleeping bag and raised it in to the air. My full sized shovel was leaning on a fallen tree about 5 ft. behind me so I also backed up to grab that. After I started to bang my shovel on a rock 2 of the lions slowly walked away and another one came running towards me. The lion that ran at me grabbed my sleeping bag out of my hand, damaging the bag. I took my shovel and struck the lion on the back. The lion then scurried away to meet the other lions which were heading for some thicker trees about 100 ft. away. After they went in to the trees I considered my options. I new I was at least moving my camp so I started to throw stuff on my pack. I decided to leave my food hanging in the tree and maybe some other stuff in camp to move quickly and get out of there. I started to move down to the trail when 3 of the lions came bounding down the hill to follow me. I was making a lot of noise to try to scare them away, but it didn’t seem to bother them. I at this point decided to call for my partner on the radio to make him aware. He was camped in the Mt. Massive Wilderness and had already turned his radio off for the evening. After calling for anyone out there, John Markalunas came back and offered any support he could, including a helicopter. He monitored my progress all the way back to the office. I was thankful for Johns support. After about 20 min. of being followed I crossed a creek and waited to see if they would cross with me, but I didn’t see them for a couple minutes so I started to run for the trailhead. I was getting nervous because I was running out of light. Once I started to run I made some distance and made it back to the truck as the light was fading away. I called Pueblo dispatch from the truck, told them I was safe and procceded to the office.