Holding your nerve when a mountain lion charges unexpectedly from the surrounding scrub takes some bravery. Hiker Dutch Faro showed impressive resolve when he found himself in a one-on-one confrontation with a puma while on a recent trek near California’s Pyramid Lake.

Faro was filming views of the lake and its surrounding landscapes while jogging along a trail when a young mountain lion burst from the bushes and made a beeline in his direction. Initially uncertain of what was bounding his way, Faro explained to Backpacker, he continued at pace down the path before switching tactics and turning to face the big cat, shouting loudly in an effort to halt the puma's charge. The plan worked and the mountain lion retreated to the safety of a nearby bush. Faro wisely kept an eye on the cat as he slowly backed away.

Justin Dellinger, a large carnivore researcher for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, explained to Backpacker that the animal looks to be no older than two years and was “likely less experienced in hunting and procuring food.” Although mountain lions are one of California's largest terrestrial predators, close encounters are rare and it's possible that this inexperienced cat was triggered by the fact that Faro was jogging at the time.

Mountain lions, also known as pumas or cougars, are famously elusive and prefer to remain far out of view. They may be rarely seen, but these apex predators fulfill an important role in local ecosystems by keeping the numbers of other mammals, especially deer, in check.

While some experts argue that it's unwise to charge at a mountain lion and suggest backing away slowly as a more appropriate tactic, Dellinger believes that Faro did the right thing by standing his ground and shouting, making himself as intimidating as possible.

Top header image: Angell Williams, Flickr