I always wanted to be holed up in a cozy cabin for the holidays. The closest we ever got to that dream was the week before Christmas 2009. The hubs and I rented a cabin at our favorite park in Oklahoma, Robber's Cave. The cabin is certainly rustic, but it's clean and super affordable if you want to get lost in the wilderness with no phone or television for a few days.
I had selected the most remote cabin on the property and we spent our time hiking every day. Ehem, OK, and other things. Right, like playing double Solitaire and my favorite cabin game, Yahtzee. If the weather is nice, you can rent a canoe on the cheap and make your way around the lake. I take pleasure in paddling right up to the side of the cliffs and making the ducks nesting squawk like a son-of-a-gun.
Did I say we like to hike? We are quite adept hikers, well that is until this arthritis started getting worse and so I have to cut them a little shorter now. That week we hiked up to the Robber's Cave and
I captured this bad boy, a Black Vulture at the top of the trail just outside of the actual cave.
The cave was a hideout for the infamous Belle Starr, the Dalton Gang, and Jesse James among others. It's a pretty cool place, but I'm not going to lie, it involves a bit of climbing and some steep trails, but they aren't that long and it's a really nice hike for those who are not terribly adept at hiking, as long as you take your time.
On this particular trip, we knew there was a snow storm coming and we were to check out and head back home just before it was to start. For those who know me, they know I'm pretty adventurous. I'll try just about anything at least once and there was a trail just beckoning me. In fact, that damned trail was screaming my name.
So we dropped off the key, parked our car, and got out our packs prepared earlier that morning with water, snacks, camera, and my monopod, a single stick with a sharp point I can dig into the ground to steady my camera. I love it because I can hike with it like a walking stick, and not have a bulky tripod to carry around when I'm birding.
I was particularly adventurous this time, knowing a snow storm was coming. We set off on a 5 mile hike through the woods, which were pretty much deserted because the massive storm had been brewing for days.
It was just beautiful. The drab sky was the perfect backdrop for brilliant purple, red, and rust colored berries. All manner of animals were out in the greyness maniacally feeding. It was clear they knew what was coming. These Waxwings could have cared less that I was so close.
When we made it around the back of the trail, along a cliff with a drop of about 30 feet, we stopped to admire the view. I wondered what sort of animals lived in the rocky nooks and crannies.
As the birds became more manic, we decided we had better make tracks the last half. We walked for only a short while when we heard it. There was this low growl. We instantly froze and looked at each other. In that moment of seeing fight or flight cross my husband's eyes, I recognized that rat bastard actually entertained the idea of leaving me there to fend for myself! He whispered that it must be a motor or something. But then we heard it again. A low growl.
Now is probably not the best time to point out I have a hearing problem. The audiologist said I have hearing loss at a couple frequencies: normal speech, cell phone ringtones, and evidently growling as well. I couldn't tell you where that was coming from, but neither could the spousal unit. We made hand motions determining if we should go back or go forward. What would aggravate whatever was growling on the other side of that berm the least? By now I'm guessing the hubs finally decided the best thing he could do was not run and leave me behind because he told me to use my monopod if anything comes a runnin'. Right.
We moved slowly ahead on the path and did not hear anything coming after us. Suffice to say we made it back to the car in one piece.
It was a week later that a guy my hubs works with informed us that a massive mountain lion was spotted in those woods that week and he sent us the news article. Nice.
To this day we have no idea where or what the growl came from, but we like to think it was emitted from Mr. Mountain Lion who was too busy feeding himself before the big storm and did not want to share. Whatever it was, I'm glad it did not bother with us. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.
Published November 18, 2014