Unless your interests include:
- maxing out daddy's credit card
- heat stroke while mtn. biking
- near drowning
...Orange County is a boring place to live.
But having a defeatist attitude never got anyone anywhere, right? So, I decided to try something new this Memorial Day weekend - "hiking." Please note that "hiking" is different from hiking. When the trail is paved and as wide as a freeway lane, it's really plain 'ol walking. But, I had to pay a wilderness park fee, so, okay, fine, it's "hiking."
This sign greeted me at the start of my "hike"
As some of you may recall, a man was killed and a woman mauled by a mountain lion shortly after I moved down here. The authorities said, "we think the animal went after humans because it was too sick to go after its regular prey." So, basically, mountain lions and other predators don't eat us because, well, it would be too easy.
I went back to my car and took the grommeted belt off my pants. I guess my plan was to scare the mountain cat away with my best Betty Page impression.
I stood at the top of the trail and tried to pull it together. I've lived a good life, I think my karma is more-or-less in order. This was going to be just fine. I waited at the gate while an Asian family passed through on their mountain bikes, and stepped into the great unknown.
I switched off my iPod and tucked it into my back pocket. I knew I'd need all five of my senses to make it through this alive. Can't be rocking out to The Killers when there are actual killers in the area.
This is the last photo taken of the victim
I ran down the survival skills I could remember from TV.
- Snakes don't like to be poked with sticks
- Let the Australian guy handle anything dangerous
- If birds suddenly fly out of a tree, and the sun goes behind a cloud, the monster is right behind you
I took a photo of myself so they would have something for the newspaper. I hoped the search and recovery team would look after my faithful little digi cam. I waved at the park ranger who drove by and imagined his sound bite, "She seemed like a nice girl, I'm not sure why she decided to walk out here alone. Maybe there were troubles at home."
As the noise of the ranger's truck faded away into the distance, I listened for the sound of a mountain lion's stomach growling. Dammit, I can't hear a damn thing over the bird chirping. Damn you, evolution.
And then, something stopped me in my tracks.
Stay Off Pavement Park Users?
Right, of course I wouldn't think of straying from the... wait, what? Stay off the pavement? Clearly they want me dead. This is some kind of trap, some kind of evil plot to kill off all the liberals in the O.C. I can see the city council debating it now:
"We can't kill them off, think of the tax dollars we'll lose."
"That's worthless hippie money. It's mostly stems and seeds."
"Okay, stencil the trail."
By now I'm 20 minutes from civilization. Twenty minutes from suchers and anti-venom and emergency personnel. In A Gadda Da Vidda could start and stop by the time they reached my body.
Marker showing where the body was found, well part of it
But I can't turn back. If I'm walking at the human average of 3 miles per hour, I'm nearly to the end of this 1.5 mile trail. I can't turn back now, that would make me a total chicken shit.
You know, what's more likely to happen is that a mountain lion is going to be chasing one of these mountain bikers. I'm going to see some fat guy in a loud bicycle jersey, like that guy over there, and he's going to be red-faced and peddling for his life. Then the lion will see me and realize that I'm a tastier morsel (no bicycle grease) and much easier to catch.
I tried not to look delicious.
Miraculously, I reached the end of the trail unharmed. A new, unpaved trail began, but I wasn't going to press my luck. Posted at the top of the new trail was a graph comparing the prints of coyotes and dogs with mountain lion prints. There was also a large sign that said "NO DOGS."
Do they tell you what to do if you see a mountain lion? Of course not. Why? Because they want the nature-loving hippies to die. Because when there are no more hippies, they can build the world's largest strip mall in the Aliso Wilderness Canyon.
It was like Blair Witch in the daylight
- rest your mouse over the photo
My anger gave me confidence. I turned into the wind and headed back up the trail. That's right, all you predators down wind. I know you can smell me. Here I am, and I'm pissed. You get too close to me and I'll beat your skull in with my Nalgene.
Will never be divided!
This liberal grrrl isn't going down without a fight. Send your worst, evil developers! Unleash the mountain lions, and the killer bees, and the lions with bees in their mouths (so when they bark, bees come out).
I charged ahead. I am a fighter, I am a champion over nature, I am a ... hey, a balloon. How'd this get out here? Better bring that back with me so a bird won't choke on it.