So, illogical thinking cleared, I continued to wander around town. Part of my thinking was if there is no shuttle to the train station, I knew I’d have to leave before dawn to walk back. It was only two miles, but two miles in the dark of a national park can be a scary place. I wanted to be sure a lot of the terrain when I started would be familiar ground. After some time, I went back to the campsite to make dinner. I made two dinners and ate them both. This means I’m getting healthy and I gave a belch of thanks. I also blew my nose as thanks the sinus infection is getting better.
I went down to the lake to journal. After a few minutes my eyes were heavy, so I went to bed rather than watch the ranger production of Stories in the Stars. It’s sad because I was excited and I’m never excited for ranger evening times.
When I woke up to take down the tent, I did see the stars, but it was cloudy and not as good as I’d hoped. I’ve been spoiled over the years with stars in Yellowstone National Park as a child and then in New Zealand a few years go. I saw the big dipper and could see the fainter stars around it, maybe that’s enough for now.
I threw away the last handful of the Haribo gummies. I could smell them through the plastic and I was worried that would draw wild animals. I had noticed yesterday there were a number of retirees around, so I was hoping there would be people up and about the village, but I didn’t want to risk it. All other remaining foodstuff was wrapped in plastic and added to the pack. Headlamp on, I walked toward the village. It feels fairly safe. There are a few scattered people moving this morning.
I walked through the village and started walking on the bike path where I came in. There was no one around and the woods are dark. I started talking to myself about how I need to make noise so I don’t accidentally startle any bears. I was thinking about martial arts camp in the redwood forest a few weeks ago. We were instructed to walk in groups of threes because a mountain lion had been sighted in camp and this was an easy way to stay safe. I started talking to myself in song form in hopes it would be louder. This sinus infection has taken it’s toll on my voice. I could only sing in lower octaves and I couldn’t project. Making it up the whole way was a burden, so I switched to my default song when I’m a little bit freaked out.
I walk in beauty
Beauty is before me
Beauty is behind me
Above and below me
It was the perfect song because it helps me focus on controlling my thoughts instead of focusing on the words. For a while, whenever I rode my scooter on the interstate I was singing it to calm myself down. Going 70 mph on two wheels with other vehicles around is significantly more terrifying than riding between corn fields that fast in Iowa. So, I was calming down. One of the things that was helping was thinking about what I will be leaving in Minneapolis and asking my friend to ship to me. A lot of the camping gear isn’t necessary for the kind of travel I’m doing right now. It was for the one night in Glacier National Park, but it can be shipped to me later from Minneapolis. Just thinking about a lighter pack made me smile.
Every few minutes I was turning my head from side to side to scan the woods for eyes. I was wondering how long before dawn when I spotted her. She was right by the path on my left in the bushes. Her green eyes flashed in my headlamp. My head automatically finished turning back to focus on the path, but then my brain triggered it to turn back. I could just make out the silhouette of her ears in the light. I was staring in the eyes a mountain lion in the pre-dawn.
I have forgotten it’s around an hour until the sunrise so dawn is coming. Instead, a mountain lion and I are sizing one another up. My feet stumble because they want to stop and run at the same time. I feel an adrenaline rush kick in. Thoughtlessly, I am physically thankful I just had my green belt test in Kajukenbo. I have been learning how to do this for months. I sing louder. Both of us lift our chins as if it will make us look larger to the other. My voice breaks because my breathing is adjusting. It no longer is coming naturally. I adjust my posture without thinking. I have more room to force air into my chest. I do not know if I am using my diaphragm or my lungs. I sing louder. It’s even more off key, but steady. She isn’t moving and I am continuing to walk down the path.
After a hundred feet, I glanced back over both shoulders to see if her eyes were there. I didn’t think they would be. They weren’t. Probably she had something she was eating or was otherwise occupied. I’m saying there was little to no chance she wanted anything to do with me. Until I reached the post office all I could think was I just stared down a mountain lion. It may never matter if it was because she was busy and didn’t care.