by, 03-02-2014 at 11:56 (1045 Views)
Snacktime and I were hiking from Milesburn Cabin to Woodrow Rd. in So Pa. Just after we were dropped off, and while we were Deet-ing up on the porch of the cabin, a car rode past, then stopped a short way up the road. The occupants didn't get out; they did nothing other than sit in the car. For whatever reason, paranoia bordering on panic set in. Fortunately Snacktime was not affected, but when I brought out my knife and stored it somewhere accessible, along with the pepperspray, he commented "You're worried about them?" To which I responded...."Don't mind me, kiddo....it's just Grandma being paranoid and overprotective." He had no problem with that concept and was unconcerned (so at least one of us was being rational!)
When we started up the trail, I could see the car up the road with the passengers still inside. When we were about 100 feet in I heard the first door open...then the second...then shortly both doors and the trunk close. But no motor started. (OK....blood pressure RISING!) I turned to Snacktime and told him that I wanted to walk as fast as we could to avoid meeting strangers for a while, that I was feeling cranky and didn't really want to be friendly yet. If he questioned it, he didn't say, but just picked up his pace and we kept hiking.
Now us picking up our pace to put distance between us and trailing hikers is a ridiculous concept. At our fastest the most we could hope is to delay the point where we'd be overtaken by a small bit. We could always hear footfalls behind us, though we couldn't see anyone. They were advancing on us, but slowly, and I could not get it out of my head that they were in pursuit. So I kept my head down and focused on the trail.....and promptly walked smack into a giant human wall.
No, I didn't scream like a little girl...my voice is too deep for that....I howled like a....a petrified howling person! Then, with a huge...HUGE...sigh of relief I shouted..."DAMMIT BUSHMAN....ANNOUNCE YOURSELF NEXT TIME!!!"
Not three minutes later, as Snacktime, Bushman and I chatted about how his hike had been going since we'd seen him last, our pursuers came upon us. Hikers...2 average guys with day packs on a nice stroll in the woods. We greeted, and they moved on....nice guys, by the way. I felt like an idiot.
This was the one and only time I feared others on the trail. When those guys left, all the reassurances I'd received about the "friendly community" came crashing back, and they were all true. We had made a bunch of friends during our previous hikes...like Bushman...had handed out our magic bags and got to hear hiker stories and had only received positive vibes from all we'd met. I'd had no reason for my New England xenophobia, but it had popped up nonetheless. I'd wasted all that time focusing on my feet and running away when I could have been leisurely appreciating the beautiful woods and time spent chatting with Snacktime. Idiot.
Anyway, I still carry a knife, and I still carry pepperspray, 'cause hey...it's not irrational to be aware of vulnerability, but foremost I carry confidence that those I meet on the trail will be like me...happy to be there and happy to meet others who share that joy.