In the area I live, we are blessed with a myriad of hiking trails. One of my favorite trails climbs to the top of a “mountain” (elevation gain of 500 ft.). The route to the top is rocky, root-y, and it’s fairly steep.
I’ve always wanted to hike to the top of the mountain at night to see a moonrise or some celestial event. On the top, there is a power line cutting over the mountain, which provides an open view of the sky.
August 12th is the supposed peak of the Perseid meteor shower peak. I decided “Ok, this is it. Time to hike to the mountain top, string my hammock up between the power line supports and take in the meteors”.
I stuffed my backpack with my hammock, pillow, Perrier water, and took my headlamp, of course. My husband, says to me, “You’re crazy”. To which I replied, “Honey, if I don’t do something you think is crazy at least once a month, then I’ll know I’m over the hill. Why be normal?”
Well, what I’m about to say to you now will make you shake your head and say, “She’s crazy!”
About a month ago, I got Neko, my very sociable sheltie, a kitten for a playmate. The kitten, Alley Cat, fell in love with me and follows me from room to room. If I try to pet Neko, Alley is right there, sashaying back and forth under Neko. Cat really loves me. He’s very chill; I’ve let him loose in a variety of places. Mike keeps hoping he’ll get lost because he feels Alley is stealing Neko’s limelight. (Not really, husband is tender-hearted toward animals)
I decided to take Alley Cat hike with me on my midnight meteor-viewing quest. Keep in mind, this hike is well over 1 mile over uneven terrain. And it’s dark. He saunters right along with me. Sometimes, he falls back to check out a bug or some such thing. All I had to do is call, “Alley, Yalli, Alley” and he’d scamper ahead of me. If a tree was right in line with the trail. He’d leap ahead and climb about 6 feet up the tree.
We got to the powerline and set up the hammock. I placed my pillow behind my head, a bottle of Perrier at my side, and kicked my feet up. We arrived about 11 pm. Unfortunately, our neck of the woods has developed so much, there’s quite a bit of light pollution. This is my preface to say, “I didn’t see shit.” Well, I saw about 12 half-hearted meteors in 3 hours. I decided it was time to pack up my bag and as stated in the great John Prine song, “Piss on the fire, call in the dog, and head it on home to bow legs”. Of course, instead of a dog, it was Alley Cat.
It took a moment for me to orient myself in the dark. There’s a trail intersection right at the power line where I had set up the hammock. Alley Cat had sprinted up the wrong path for a ways, before I told him “Alley, we need to turn around.” We were both a little confused.
All smooth sailing on the flat part. But part way down the mountain, I took a trail offshoot that set off directly down the creek drainage. At first I kept going thinking “Ah, it’ll meet up with the main trail in a jif”. I didn’t think I was nervous, but I did stumble a few times perhaps due to carelessness caused by uneasiness or maybe due to the slickness of the rocks, or both.
I made a wise decision to turn back to find the main path. I really believe not taking this measure is how people get lost in the woods.
Alright, whew, back on the main trail. Alley’s still with me. I’m scrambling downhill and all of a sudden, I feel (and see) something mouse-like size and black on my shoulder. I girl scream and throw off my backpack. It was either a bat or the strap of my backpack. Luckily, Alley did not get spooked and bolt. But now I was a little spooked. My headlamp was drawing bugs (and bats) on me.
It was about 3 am when we finally made it back to the house. In the morning, the first thing I asked my husband was to look at my neck to make sure I had no bat bite marks. lol
Well, I lived. Although, I don’t like the bucket list phraseology, I can cross that one off. Been there, done that!