JB, few cougars, and a fatty

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Cougars' attempt to kill two young men.

Submitted: November 09, 2013

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Submitted: November 09, 2013

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Thanks to the attorneys, fruits, and nuts, it seems the state of California has a warning for everything.  A sticker for your car giving you cancer, a poster for your apartment giving you cancer, a sign showing which way to go in a Tsunami, a sign indicating which wildlife live in the area, in fact, pretty much a sign for just about everything this bankrupt state could possibly be liable for.  Yes, I do know not to run over pedestrians.  I also know that I should head away from the water source if a tsunami alarm has triggered.  Every trail I’ve ever walked in California has warned about some imminent danger ahead, yet I’ve never paid much attention to them.

The date is November 4th, 2013. This is the true tale of two knuckle-heads from the Midwest going on an afternoon hike in California’s Big Sur Andrew Molera State Park.  I (Fatty) had been semi-retired (out of work) for some time.  JB had a pretty flexible schedule and invited me up for a few days to his home in Monterey, CA.  JB and I had served in the military together nearly ten years prior.  With his flexible schedule, and my lack of one, we both really hadn’t much of a concept of what day it was, everyday was Saturday to me.  I drove up late the night prior from San Diego.  Reveille was about 10am after my late arrival the night prior.  It was a beautiful central California day and not a cloud in the sky.  A clean crisp air, temperature about 65 degrees.  We set off from JB’s beautiful Monterrey beach house to the local Jamba Juice, located about two miles away.  Six months prior, I had torn my ACL and meniscus, so this was going to be one of my first times getting back out there since April.  A nice leisurely walk complete, I felt great.  During the walk, I had told JB about my recent Yellowstone experiences and he had talked about central California’s Big Sur and how beautiful it was.  We got back to the house at about one and decided to put on some pants and head to Big Sur’s Andrew Molera state park which was about thirty miles away.  We arrived around 2pm to start off on JB’s favorite trail.  The first trail head we came upon had a stream that needed to be crossed but there was no bridge unlike JB had remembered.  It had been a few weeks since he had been to the park and it could have possibly been the wrong trail.  We walked back through the parking lot to the next trail head and went for it.  It was a well travelled trail as we crossed paths of several others.  After a half hour of walking on a very flat and wide trail, we had reached the ocean and what they call the “point”.  JB had realized that he had the correct trail the first time but knew an alternative route to get there from our current location.  We took off our shoes and socks and waded across the river.  Soon thereafter, we were on our original intended trail which brought you to one of the highest points in the park.  This was an 8.8 mile hike, with approximately 1100 feet in ascension.  We were at sea level, it was about 2:45.  Keep in mind, due to my torn ACL and passion for empty calories; I had increased my weight from 160lbs to 200lbs in six months.  As I told JB, I was now carrying a baby, therefore, he can carry the backpack.  Nearly two hours later, about twenty minutes from the peak, we had decided to eat our pre-made ham sammy’s.  Both of us being prior military, we still had a vice for heaters (cigarettes), so a couple of those were in order as well.  We sat in this beautiful set of redwood trees puffing away like old times in the gulf. The time was now 4:45.  After the little break, Fatty’s (me) knees started getting really tight.  I had run eight full marathons in the previous few years and my determination to finish always outweighed the pain.  I knew I could forage through the pain for a few more hours, but I had definitely slowed down.  We arrived at the strategically placed bench at about 5.  It was time for me to take some photos to send to my landlocked family in the Midwest.  At about 5:10, a funny thing happened.  The sun started to look like it was setting.  I kept snapping away photos of this most scenic view.  JB had made the hike a few times and from his calculations we still had a solid hour and a half to get down the mountain.  As we descended from the peak, I realized this was going to be a bitch.  These trails weren’t flat; they were prime for an ankle roll.  We really had to be careful step by step.  This put an extreme amount of pressure on my already swollen knees.  Not to mention the new gut I was sporting was doing a number on my lower back.  It was now about 5:20 and the sun was nearly gone.We realized our miscalculation was the time change from the Sunday night previously.  When the hell did they start changing that shit on Sunday’s?  Just as I’m sure some schmucks showed up an hour early to work on Monday, we found ourselves an hour late on our hike.  It was around now we were starting to hear the brush crinkling. As stated previously, I had just recently been to Yellowstone and I knew there wasn’t a grizzly within one thousand miles of this place, so I wasn’t worried.  Each time it happened though, I’d see a tiny bird move.  I knew a bird couldn’t make that kind of crunching sound, but I did hear bird like chirping/whistling.  JB and his hyper vigilance were starting to remind me of the good old days.  I teased him for a bit, telling him it was just a bird.  He just shook his head and kept walking. At that moment, I pulled out my phone and opened up the cat piano app.  Seconds away from rocking a well placed meow, I realized there was no need to pile on.  This was some pretty high brush and we continued to hear the birds and crinkling but never saw them.  JB and I decided to rock one last heater prior to the walking through the final leg of the bluff trail.  We found ourselves a nice sandy spot near the edge of a cliff, still probably being about 400 ft above sea level and 50 minutes from the car.  We talked of the old days and the impending road trip we were planning together.  We hopped back to our feet and prepared for darkness.  Thank god JB brought a flashlight.  JB then shined the light on the trail ahead.  He pointed out what looked to be fresh mountain lion tracks in the sand.  I told him to relax, as they were probably cougar prints, what I believed to be a much smaller cat.  “They’re the same fucking thing dummy”.  The more you know!  We still had quite a decent in what was a pretty bumpy and thin trail.  I would estimate this portion of the trail to be three feet wide with very tall brush on both sides.  I fired up my cell phone flashlight app and we started moving.  I was trailing JB about 5 ft down the trail with my cell illuminating the ground and that’s when it happened.  We heard a crackling sound to our right; it seemed to be from much higher up.  We both turned, me with my much inferior flashlight app and JB with his tactical light.  Two golden eyes about 5 inches apart stared back and then were gone.  Keep in mind the trail we are on is about 2-3 feet wide with brush 8 foot tall, on both sides.  Whatever, the fuck that was, was in a tree.  Last time I checked, deer’s can’t climb trees.  JB’s fears came to fruition, Fatty’s suppression became unsuppressed.  We stopped and tried to create some sort of a battle plan.  The plan, KEEP MOVING, but at a very very very slow pace!  The eyes were definitely yellow or gold and that thing was big.  I decided it was time to communicate to whatever beast was just stalking us.The first thing that came to my mind was Goodfellas for some reason.  Maybe Joe Pesci is my spirit animal?  I started speaking in my very best Joe Pesci accent, “Do I look like a fucking clown to you lion?”  We slowly kept moving and then JB locked onto another Lion actually on the trail about 15 ft ahead of us.  It wasn’t the same lion.  The beam of light hit him; he looked back and slowly walked to the brush to the right.  I started loudly chanting cadence from boot camp.  “Keep it moving on you left 2 a 3 4 yo left right left.  Yo left Yo right Yo righta Left.  One two a two a two a dee a doo one two a two a dee a doo”.  JB and I are now inches apart.  Brush now starts moving on the left.  JB and I quickly flash our lights, result being two sets of golden eyes.  I’ve now officially lost my shit.  I accept that I’m going to die via mountain lion.  I can’t let JB see my fear though as I’m not sure where he’s at so I blurt out, “Here Kitty Kitty Kitty Kitty, Here Kitty, Kitty, Kitty”.  Lions to the front, Lions to the left, Lions to the right.  JB realizes and points out, “They’re circling us man!”  “Keep MOVING!”  Keep in mind, our keep moving was at a snail’s pace as we’ve only moved about 20 feet in the last 15 minutes.  JB had the front, I had the 6.  At this time, my cell taps out.  We are now in the dark on the six.  Clearly, there are multiple lions looking for dinner.  I spot a rock and grab it.  JB and I are now back to back inching along this trail.  The brush keeps crinkling to our left and right.  It’s as if they know where are heading.  They have been a step ahead of us for the last hour.  I also sense they are trying to get us to turn back.  “Keep moving!”  Right into the danger.  They were trying to push us in a certain way, I felt it, JB felt it.  Brush continues crinkling to our left and right.  JB and I are back to back moving very slowly.  We had now been being stalked for well over an hour.  We were inching our way down the trail, back to back, me with a rock held high and JB with a tiny pocket knife and a flash light held even higher.  We were spinning in circles, throwing our arms in the air telling each other to keep moving.  These lions were trying to trap us.  “FUCK these lions!”  We just kept saying stuff to them.  About a half mile to go and it felt like we were walking right into it. “It’s been a good run man”!  Brush on both sides keeps crinkling.  I continue to assume every “animal run” is the river crossing.  “Is that it JB?  Is that it?  Is that it?  Hey yooo Kitty!  Fuck you!”  We both just kept telling each other to keep moving even if at a snail’s pace. The river was finally upon us.  One turn, is this what we’ve been set up for?  Death by mountain lion at the head of the trail?  It’s better than heart disease and at least some of me will be found.  Fuck it, turn the corner, hit the creek, no shoes off this time.  In what seemed like 2 hours was 2 fucking hours.  It actually seemed like 9 hours.  Two hours of complete terror.  Unlike like the stages of grief, there are only two stages of being stalked by a mountain lion, denial and then acceptance. 

 


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