Fear Itself? Boy, do I wish. Of course maybe that's why I get myself into these messes. I'm not bright enough to be afraid.
While wandering through some of the most remote terrain I have ever been in, it occurred to me to wonder what should I be afraid of. Snowpack? Nah. I was plowing my way through that pretty good. A trail that's turned into a small falls. Not really. It's mucky but still passable. The rushing waters that could easily become a flash flood? Maybe. Still, those turbulent tides make for great shots. The trees that had fallen across the path? Well, nothing was creaking during my visit, and I was indeed grateful that those trees had the decency to fall over while I was not standing under them.
Indeed. What should I be afraid of? Mountain lions? Bears? Landslides? All solid concerns. In fact, one might even add in a wolverine or a moose. It's possible. I think we have moose out here. And we may even have a wolverine or two especially the higher up the moutain one climbs.
I was giving this some very serious thought. I was the only living soul for miles around in an area where cell phone availabilitly is a mere dream at best and a desperate wish at worst. Granted, the trail started out rather easily, but ducking under and climbing over trees had begun to wear me out. The farther I climbed up the trail, the muckier it became adding to my fatigue. To make matters even more trying, the snowpack became practically impassible. I fell through to my hip again and ended up pushing out with my other knee to climb out. Brrr. I was wearing shorts. My mantra became, "Note to self. Next time bring your hiking boots. Or better yet, learn to snowshoe." The only other humans foolish enough to come up the path behind me came to their senses and turned around.
I was alone again and once again reminded that I make a very easy and tasty target for mountain lions or bears. Especially since I'm wearing my very tasty pjb lunch on my back in my little lunch bag. This too was very tiring. The constant guard. The listening for a snap of a twig. Or perhaps a roar that doesn't sound quite right. A plane going over or a hungry bear? Sometimes it's hard to know the difference. So when I finally came to what I deteremined to be an impassable length of snowpack, I decided it might be best to look at my watch.
That's when I realized I was not going to uber hike a 4.5 miles in two hours and reach Emerald Lake. Nope. It'd been an hour and I'd gone one whole mile. Sigh. I finally realized that I had to give up the ghost. I came to the conclusion that it would not be worth the trouble to wade through part of that snowpack only to wear myself out for another twenty minutes. I also came to the conclusion that it would be a good idea to sit and enjoy the wilderness while I munched on the protein packed tastiness that is my pjb sandwhich.
That's when I heard it and I definitely made it known that my lunch belonged to me. Sure, it sounded like a bird, but I knew better. Darn squirrels. No, still not what I'm afraid of, but man, they're not going to start bombing me with acorns and steal my lunch. Not on my watch.
Rested and full of lunch, I felt a bit better as I began to head down. In fact, one might say, I let down my guard. That was my first mistake. OK, you can't count all the mistakes from my previous adventures. I can't count that high. My second mistake came when I went to hurdle my third tree. I realized that coming down put me in a better position because I was higher up from this side, so I wouldn't have to push up onto the tree to sit on it so I could get over it. Yeah. Easier said than done. While doing that, I made my third mistake. I trusted a branch to be solid enough for a hand hold without testing it first. The whole it looks sturdy error. I was in the middle of swinging my weight across the tree trunk, using the branch for a hand hold when...Snap! Ouch does not cover it. Although, I don't recall letting any language fly, so I'm pretty proud of myself for that. I knew I had at least scraped up my hand pretty good. Question is, was there a splinter. (I am afraid of splinters, but that's still not the correct answer.) I steeled myself for a look. Facing these things is much better than not doing so, especially when you're in the middle of nowhere with no help and no phone acess. I immmediately realized two things, it looked worse than it was and there was no splinter. Whew! In true fashion, I had taken a digger so to speak. The skin was still attached. The wound it left being somewhere between a mere scratch and a serious gash. I would live. It was bleeding but not at a rate that would leave me woozy and unable to hike. Although, I was amazed at what a small injury can do for one's coordination. Mine went totally south after that.
Gingerly making my way through the snowpack and the tree hurdles left along the trail, I made my way down in one piece. Although, by the end of the whole adventure my first two fingers on that hand were worn out. I used them to focus my lens. (I'm not taking my camera off manual focus unless I lose an arm.) I also used them to grip the steering wheel on the drive down.
In fact, I will admit that my heart did finally skip a beat or two when the car acted sluggish as I went to start it up. Are you serious? All that, and I'm stranded? Still, not what I'm afraid of though. A mere two mile hike down the road brings me to Palisade Falls and there's always someone there. Especially in the summer.
So what exactly is it I should be afraid of if not wild animals, being stranded, getting splinters or falling through snowpack? I have nothing to fear but...
me, myself and I. After all, I am the one who got myself into this mess.