After 24 days on the trail, I have had enough wildlife experiences to last the entire trail. It’s not that I don’t like wildlife, but I have a huge fear of anything or anyone I cannot accurately communicate with. I can’t say to the mama bear, “Don’t worry mama bear, I just want to walk through and want nothing to do with your cubs.”
That being said, it’s getting a little creepy out here with the lack of humans and the plethora of wildlife on the trail. Two days in a row, we saw a mama bear and two cubs right on the trail, each time about 50-70 feet away from us. Both times, the mama bears watched us but didn’t come towards us, so we walked backwards on the trail both times, waiting for about 15 minutes before walking through a clear area.
Another creepy aspect of the trail is that the “circle of life” concept, while it sounds very nice and ideal, is actually quite harsh in real life. Yesterday I was stopped in my tracks as I walked up on a freshly killed calf that still had fresh blood pouring from its wounds. It was just 2 feet off the trail and we could only assume that a mountain lion had just killed it and was therefore very near, waiting to eat its prey. We hurried away from the dead calf, half-scared, half-shocked. I felt like the woods were watching us the rest of the day, as there was an eerie silence during our final miles.
Lastly, as we reached a spring this morning, we came upon a mostly buried coyote, with just it’s head and half its spinal cord sticking out of the ground. Mountain lions like to bury their food so we again hurried to get our water and nearly ran out of there, surely having a pair of eyes watching our actions. Now that I have you scared for our safety, at least take comfort that we still feel safe out here, even though it gets creepy at times. We are hoping that some of the upcoming sections have more trail users so it’s not just us and the animals. Until then, we’ll be using all the animal kingdom communication skills we can think of in order to convey that all we want to do is keep walking.