I’ve discovered an effective strategy for overcoming my fear of bears.
Settle in for a week of hiking--in cougar country—complete with details of how to avoid, or, if faced with an encounter, stare one down and escape with your life, posted plainly at every trailhead.
A repeated reminder throughout the Park, for those who might have it slip their mind.
Chances are, I’d never encounter one.
But with 300 cougars within the national park boundaries, I read each instruction sheet and studied it well, then picked up my stick and stepped into their world.
Every scrubby cluster became a point from which one could suddenly leap.
Every dark lump, a crouching form.
Hiking no longer was a mindless trek, but an exercise, carefully plotted and executed.
We must keep an eye on the sun--these deep woods lose light quickly.
Stumbling along a dusky trail would be definitely out of the question.
Having just stepped off a plane from Ohio days earlier, made this new place all the more disconcerting. As if suddenly waking from sleep to find the room rearranged, nothing looked the least bit familiar.
And their predators, flightless Snail-Eating ground beetles scurrying to and fro, hoping to catch one, or a snail or other slimy, spineless creature that lives in the dark of these woods.
The evergreens, of course, were huge--and enough like similar species to hazard a guess. But, there were maples--with leaves the size of dinner plates.
Devil’s Club—nothing a hiker wishes to get into a tangle with.
Sulfur hot springs were covered in a morning’s mist. Their aroma less than inviting—yet, after a day’s journeying, a warm welcome home. Nature’s hot tub, clean and clear. A constant renewal from below the earth’s surface.
One afternoon, a barrier of hefty blackberry shoots teased us from the road’s edge with large and luscious ripe fruit as we stopped to watch the tide slip from dark-covered rocks at the coast. We stole all we could of the bright, dark berries, and filled a hat to the brim—a snack to carry us through.
The table for lunch, reminding us again of this wonderful wildness we had landed in.
And those that follow, are of another world.
Posted in Camera Critters!