I knew it was a bit dangerous and hence, stupid. Setting an alarm on vacation. Heading to the mountain solo at daybreak. They do warn you in full font size – “You are entering a natural habitat for large wildlife – bears, elk and moose. Carry bear spray.”
Of course, I had no bear spray. Just a thermos, a breakfast snack, a useless no service cell phone and my stubborn will to master a Teton.
Admittedly, I was a bit scared, more so as the woods thickened, and the trail narrowed. Civilization grew further and further away.
What would I do if I ran into a black or brown bear? Back away slowly? Throw him my protein bar, praying that almonds and cranberries would be more appetizing than my left arm? Climb a tree? Run? Yell a few futile fucks? Scan five decades for last minute regrets and glorious moments of mighty living?
As I considered my options, my body became more anxious. I really should have bought the $5.99 can of bear spray. My odds of survival would have increased and certainly, I could be enjoying the view rather than fearing for my life. They did warn me. In large sized fonts.
As I walked on, bypassing the wildflowers and the picturesque views in favor of my fear, I came across a largess animal.
Instinctly, I whispered to no one (thank God I did not scream), “Holy fuck!”
My body immediately relaxed with relief. It wasn’t a bear. It was a moose.
I pulled out my phone to take pictures of the seemingly gentle animal. She stood there posed, I like I was at some petting zoo in the park.
I continued to walk, slowly. As the trail switched-back, I got even closer to my large frozen companion in the woods. Now overly-confidant, I snapped away with my iPhone. Just a walk in the woods. Me and my harmless friend, the moose. What was I so afraid of? Nature loves me. And, I got a cool story with pictures to go with it.
“You saw what?” exclaimed my family after I excitedly told them of my adventures with my buddy, the moose.
“That’s the most dangerous animal in the woods.”
“Oh,” my naivete of the natural world not countered by my backwoods southern upbringing.
My happy moment was now painted with peril. That moose was not my friend. Rather, I was her enemy.
But she let me go this time. She entertained my hubris, as if she’d done this before. Stupid tourist here in my woods. I’ll be her Rockstar. Snap those pictures. Post them on Facebook. My brush with danger, hers with fame.
My partner suggested I hike again this morning. I politely declined. Now that I know that my pretend friend the moose was well, pretend, I figured I pushed my luck. I’ll choose to head back East with limbs intact.
Besides, some moments in life, sadly, cannot be repeated. The second time around never seems to match the first. So, we best grab moments when they arise. Stupidity and iPhones always optional.