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A Quiet Day's Hike

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A Quiet Day's Hike

Post by Jay on Sun Mar 30, 2008 10:43 pm

Yesterday, I hiked about 8 miles of the Ouachita Lake Vista Trail (because it's really close to my house) and I didn't see a single soul the whole time.

There are usually at least 3 or 4 mountain bikers out there, but this particular day, it was barely drizzling and in the mid-40's, so there was no one around.

Which made me start realizing: Man, it's dead quiet out here. I mean, not a bird chirping, no boat motors churning across the lake; DEAD QUIET. I walked along the soft wet trail letting my thoughts flutter this way and that way, doing my best to keep my mind away from the fact that my job will be ending soon, and the more solemn fact that I'm not sure what I'll do for income.

But it started bothering me. No, not the job thing. THE SILENCE. I mean, I hadn't seen a squirrel, or a lizard, or a bird; not a single living creature seemed to be stirring. I could hear my breath. My footsteps making squishing sounds in the wet pine needles along the trail. A zipper jingling on my pack. I began to wonder why I hadn't seen any creatures. Was it the cool air? The moisture hanging low making visibility poor? Or was it something else? Something sinister perhaps?

I began to wonder what I would do if a bear was to come bounding through the gray mist toward me with a ferocious scowl on it's face. I found my teeth gritting together as I scolded myself for not carrying any bear spray. My eyes shifted down toward the little pocket on my backpack strap where my little Gerber pocket knife is and I wondered if I could somehow fight a bear with it. I looked around the woods and the trees seemed taller, and more forboding than before. The silence encapsulated me, and my breath quickened. My footsteps reverberated through my body, like giant logs crashing to the ground. Boom. Boom. Boom.

And then, off to my left, a heavy rustling in the leaves.

I froze.

A thicket of pines obscured the source of the racket from my view, but it was not a small animal; this I was sure of when it took a few steps. Crunch...crunch...crunch...

I breathed as shallow as I could.

Around the edge of a big pine trunk, it's head appeared: A good-sized doe. She was beautiful. And she wasn't alone. There were two others with her, not 15 feet away from me. She walked another step or two and then she noticed me, stopped, and raised her nose and sniffed me with her amazing sense of smell. The others peeked at me and we all stood there, as still and silent as a coffee table picture book, and then, white tails raised and they skittered through the woods and disappeared into the cool mist.

I looked around and smiled, and wondered what I would do without the silent solitude of such a wonderous place. And then I shuffled on down the trail, as darkness would be falling soon.
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Re: A Quiet Day's Hike

Post by Jay on Mon Mar 31, 2008 8:37 pm

...And for the record, I know that bears are still pretty scarce around the area, and even when they are seen, they aren't exactly ferocious. (They're usually running away!)

Just so nobody thinks I'm trying to give our bears a bad name!
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Re: A Quiet Day's Hike

Post by Figg on Fri Apr 18, 2008 10:52 pm

I've met my share of bears on the trail in the Smoky Mountain National park. Never had a problem with any of them thank the Lord. The bear spray gives me peace of mind also not only for the bears but the other two legged critters I may meet up with. I was on the trail with Lew a few weeks ago and we were set up at camp and we both noticed there wasnt a bit of noise in the woods. Kinda spooky. At night laying in the bag it can get so loud at night you can barely sleep and then it happens...the sound of silence. F

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