Saturday, March 15, 2014

Fur and a Tail

My man and I have hiked the last couple days around town. The first evening we headed into William's Canyon. It's not open to the public, but there were only two of us. We're not really "the public" are we? It's amazing what that canyon looks like now, after all the flooding down there this summer. I shouldn't really say we hiked it. Rather, we walked to it from my house and then we boulder hopped to the point where the trail breaks from the old Cave of the Winds exit road.

Yesterday evening after work, I thought I'd show my man the old Ute trail, a relatively obscure one that seems very remote and untraveled. We only hiked up about 40 minutes, then turned around. On our way back down, we decided to explore a different exit option. It's always a risk to do so, but we were so close to town we figured we could get back to the car no matter where we came out.

The trail, at first, started out wide, and looked like a vehicle had even driven that part of it before. It wasn't long, though, before it really was a trail, following the ridge of a hill. Not something to be done in snowy conditions, because it would be hard to recover from a slip off either side. Not something to be done in summer, because it was extremely rocky - perfect for snakes.

We kept the original trail to our right, and when the one we were on veered to the left, we decided to head downhill to the right to see if we could get down the hill and back onto the "real" trail. The hillside was a bit steep, and sometimes we had to hold onto the abundant spiky small trees to help us down. We were not far from some really steep cliffs to our left, so we headed right to find a gully that emptied onto a not-so-steep part of the hill down to the trail. We found one. It was full of more of those spiky trees, but we picked our way through them, held onto rocks on either side of us, and lowered ourselves down over the steeper areas. Really, this wasn't dangerous or anything, just a little more effort than some descents. "An adventure," my man called it.

So here we were, surrounded by craggy rocks, almost to the hill that we could take to the trail at the bottom. I went first. I grabbed some rocks and jumped to the ground, right in front of small cave. At the same time, I thought I heard a man's voice. I looked down toward the trail, but no one was there. I didn't think anything else of it at the time. Maybe, for some reason, I scraped something or what have you, and it made a sound like something someone would say. I started walking down the hill, and turned back after a few steps to wait for my man.

As he started coming down over the hole, he said, "Babe, you keep going. I'm going to find a different way down." "What?" I said. "Why?" "Just keep walking, ok?" When I questioned him again, he said, "There's something in that hole. I'm going to find a different way down. You just get to the trail." He headed back up the rocks, and I headed down, my heart beating a bit faster than normal.

That was some of the scariest moments I can remember, in that regard. I didn't know what he'd seen, I was out in the open, and he was getting farther away from me as we moved in opposite directions. I didn't know if something was going to start hunting me. Perfect timing, as it was dusk by this time.

Well, obviously all's well. He found another way down and we met up on the trail - with whatever it was staying in its hole. When he reached me I asked what he'd seen. "I don't know what it was," he said. "All I saw was fur and a tail." And the male sound I thought I'd heard? Probably the animal growling at me when I jumped down right in front of it. We're figuring it was a coyote, but there's no way we're going back to find out.

So, lessons learned this time out? No more rocky crags on a hillside that no human has come down in probably years. And the adventure my man mentioned earlier on our descent? "Maybe a little less adventure," he commented once we were back at the car. Yes. Perhaps.

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