You know that song, “Blame it on the Rain?” Well, I’m blaming it on the sun. Maybe it the solar flares, or spring fever, but either way, I just couldn’t concentrate today.
How many gorgeous spring days had I frittered away whilst employed, wishing I could take a hike? Too many to sit on the couch bemoaning my lack of progress on my bestseller, that’s what. So, for all of you trapped in your cubicles today, I dug deep and sacrificed days of breathing easy for an afternoon of fun-filled adventuring in your national forest.
It’s only 24 minutes from my front door to the parking lot at LongLeaf Vista in Kisatchie National Forest, if there are no cops around. When I arrived, only one other vehicle occupied a parking spot. The tiny red car had a handicapped license plate? WTH? With all the hills, steps, and slippery slopes, this struck me as odd.
See, that’s no place for a wheelchair or elderly person who needs to park closest at Wally World, now is it?
I persuaded myself that Granny probably just drove out to drop off some paint thinner to whomever is running the family meth lab. Since I pre-packed my pepper spray in my fanny pack with the gatorade, I felt safe enough to continue.
One of the main reasons that I didn’t stay home and walk is the pack of mostly friendly dogs that reside at the end of my road. So, imagine how awesome I felt when a mostly friendly, unleashed German Shepherd bounded down the trail toward me. “Angel,” was followed by a guy in camos, sporting a 4 foot backpack and ripped biceps.
He held a shillelagh-looking walking stick in one hand, but kindly stepped off the trail to let me and my new best friend Angel past. Probably NOT a serial killer, but if I made it to the top alive, I’d text my husband the license plate.
Text a picture and the plate number to my husband to assist the police in finding my remains, ’cause I didn’t drive half an hour to only walk a mile and a half, dangit! Begin round 2. Stop halfway up the stairs to soak up some sunshine and give thanks for my many blessings. Continue to climb and the guy is right there, with his tent spread out and is putting a fishing pole together (no fish in the creek, so WTH?).
I casually mention that if he’s spending the night he might want to be on the lookout for feral swine because I saw some rooted ground not far from his campsite. His eyes narrowed and he said in a soft voice reminiscent of Hannibal Lector, “There’s all kinds of things in these woods.”
I think I hear banjos. Dueling banjos.
Very casually, I sauntered over to the steps leading down the rocky outcropping, petted Angel one more time, and got the hell out of there.
My imagination ran wild: He obviously is not handicapped and probably killed the owner of the car and I am next. I didn’t have to increase my pace to increase my heartbeat, but I did. Made it out in record time.
So, the moral of this story is stay home on the couch. But, if you don’t, be sure to let someone know if you are going hiking alone in a national forest, even if it’s only 30 minutes from home. Check in regularly. Bring food and pepper spray. Stay alert. Trust no one.