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Mark "SlowBro" Hurd
Begins: Jun 28, 2019
Date: Fri, Feb 8th, 2019
Entry Visits: 92
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I was already a mile into my training hike this morning before I realized I had forgotten my headlamp. At 5:30 AM it is still pitch black, but much of the first part of my hike has streetlamps. So I normally don't get out my headlamp until about mile two where the streetlamps are few and far between. Rather than go back for my light, I decided to walk the bike path along the creek which is better lit.
Of course walking in the dark, even with a headlamp, kicks in a primitive wariness about things unseen. I feel this especially when I'm on the trail. All the things that go bump in the night surround you when you are walking alone in the dark in the wilderness. One of my favorite authors and bloggers, Carrot Quinn, calls them "stick breakers" and its an apt moniker.
On the Colorado Trail at one point I broken camp at 4 AM. As I walked up the alpine valley in the dark through a forest of willows there were plenty of stick breakers. Visions of mountain lions dance through my head as I entered a particularly thick stand of willows. As you may be aware, mountain lions hunt at dusk and dawn and I had a near heart attack when something very large (and I mean very large) moved in the willows a few feet to my left. Trekking poles at ready I awaited my fate, but whatever it was went crashing away in the darkness. When I finally stop hyperventilating I decided it was probably a moose or a bear. I continued on under a moonless sky for a couple more nerve-racking miles. Finally I reached the pass where I encountered a herd of stick breakers. Probably deer or elk. Fortunately the sky lightened as dawn approached and I was able to dial my fear down a few notches.
On the Arizona Trail, with my friend Scatman, we left at 4:30 AM for the climb out of the Grand Canyon. Of course, not only did we have to worry about mountain lions, but also, here, there were rattlesnakes. Peering through the dark at the limit of my headlamp I also became aware of the huge drop to my left. The trail from Cottonwood Camp follows Bright Angel Creek for several miles. The creek courses and winds tumbling down a canyon with our trail perched along the edge. In the dark you could hear the water crash and roar maybe 50 or 100 feet below us. But you could never see it. So we had a deadly drop to our left, potential rattlesnakes warming themselves on the trail ahead, and mountain lions hunting us from behind. We both agreed that we were glad that there were two of us so that the survivor could tell the authorities where to find the body. Of course nothing happened and we were fine, but we played out a lot of scenarios in our heads.
As far as my hike this morning, no mountain lions, no rattlesnakes, no bear, no moose, no abyss, just a pleasant walk. Sometimes boring is OK.
Until next week -Happy Trails
SlowBro's Continental Divide Trail Journey
"I can't say as ever I was lost, but I was bewildered once for three days." -Daniel Boone
"The Journey IS The Reward" -SlowBro
"If you feel like quitting, just keep walking." -Gypsy Spirit
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