Thursday, June 09, 2016

Adventures in the Woods

I'm on a writers' retreat, which at this point should simply be called a retreat since I haven't gotten any writing done.
A friend from my writers' group rented a cabin in the Hocking Hills, the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains here in southern Ohio. 
Yesterday, a friend and I walked a little over a mile to a nature sanctuary and explored a trail there. We saw no other people as we wound down into the woods and ended at a Great Wall of mossy stone and a quiet green reflecting pool with water pouring into it from the cliffs above. 
Today, that friend has gone home, so alone, I decided to run to the trail and explore the path we didn't take. As I got to the sanctuary, just past the parking area and a wide swath of flat grass, a young deer startled and raced away through the woods. Did I scare her, I wondered. 
I kept going, surrounded by the hum of cicadas waking up, and turned down the path to the Rock Stalls. 
I'd only gone a little way when I heard a sound like a horse snorting out. Three times that huffing sound came from some place close. 
I froze and realized I was a mile and a half from our cabin and utterly alone in the woods. 
When I heard the sound, I'd imagined a stag pawing the ground, and wondered if he'd run at me. 
I called my husband. 
I told him the situation and he said, "It could be a bear." 
Gulp. I hadn't thought about a bear. 
"Some people say you should try to look big if a bear comes at you, but I don't think that would work for you." Really? Short jokes-- now?
He suggested I turn around but I really wanted to be brave and hike the trail alone. 
"It could be a person paralleling you in the woods," he suggested. 
"There are definitely no people around," I assured him. At 7:30 in the morning on an isolated trail, animals were my bigger worry. 
"How dense are the woods? Can you see into them?" he asked. But I had stopped by some thick bushes. 
"I'm going to keep hiking," I told him. 
So I continued down the path. The woods thinned out, but after a few minutes, I heard the snorting noise again. Three times. An asthmatic bear? 
I stood on the trail, the dappled sunshine struck me, and I began to sing: "My life has been a tapestry of rich and royal hue 
An endless changing vision of an ever changing view"
The song helped me be brave and I continued. 
The woods thinned out even more and I felt comfortable taking a few selfies. 

But I figure I could be one of those people who later inspects pictures and sees a bear or bobcat hanging out in the trees above me. 
The path intersected with the one we'd taken the day before and I felt more comfortable as I revisited the ancient spaces there. 
I made it back home after a 4 1/2 mile hike, which kind of ruins the end of the story, but if I'd been attacked by a bear, I wouldn't be writing this anyway. 

6 comments:

francetaste said...

That is anticlimatic in the best possible way! So glad it wasn't a bear.
Aren't you glad you went back alone, though? The deer, the forest....
Lovely.

grammajudyb said...

Oh my, you are so much braver than I am. I would have been terrified!. I so glad nothing bad happened. I wonder if I would have thought to sing? A great idea! It is beautiful there.

Paulita said...

Francetaste and grammajudyb, Of course I'm glad, not that I made it through, but I was scared and then mad at myself for being scared.
Thanks for commenting.

Just Me said...

You and Earl are so funny. Enjoy my friend.

Paulita said...

Thanks, Just Me! So far, we're amusing each other.

Lora Hilty said...

My brave and athletic friend :)

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