One day, my friend and I decided that it would be nice to take a hike on a mountain in the wildlife refuge near town. It seems strange to me now that it started that innocently, a little whim no more dangerous than 'hey, let's go for a jog!' or, 'it's so nice out, lets head to the park!'
So we went to the mountains on this whim, choosing the top of "Charon's Gardens" as our destination. Things went perfectly fine.... at first. We went up the side of the mountain in more or less forty five minutes, no problem. We reached the top Charon's Gardens soon enough, and then, we made our error.
"I thought you said there were caves up here?" I asked.
"Yeah, there's supposed to be... maybe they're up there." My friend responded.
"Well let's go up there then!"
I wish I could rewind to that point, right there, when I suggested it. If I could, I would give myself a good old fashioned open-handed Mexican slap across the face, and then tell myself to go home. Just go home!!
But no, we kept on going.... only to find a buffalo blocking our path. The buffalo, none to be trifled with, looked pretty menacing. So we would simply go around the buffalo then climb back down, right? Simple enough....
Two hours, one rattlesnake, and what seemed to be an Indonesian typhoon later, I began cursing the buffalo. It was, after all, the buffalo's fault that we were lost in this god forsaken wilderness, and no fault of my own.
No, it was the buffalo, its black eyes a soulless pit of death, who had blocked our way and made us take this detour of doom. As I picked my way through what seemed like the thousandth thorny bush, I began to think how I might exact my revenge on this buffalo if I ever got out of this mess.
What's worse, I thought, is that at this very moment the buffalo is busy not giving a damn. The buffalo is probably still grazing on that stupid patch of grass that it was grazing on before. Blind to my suffering, unfeeling.
It was when the turkey vultures started flying above us that I was ready to call it quits. They sent a very strong message to me... a message that said,
"Now, there's a great number of woodland animals on this mountain. Yet, you are the best candidates for death. Not the wounded deer, not the old antelope, nor the sickly squirrel, it is you."
It really didn't matter, though, that I was ready to call it quits. Nature didn't care. Matter of fact, nature sent a rattlesnake my way under a rock just to show that it really didn't mind if I made it out alive or just became a delicious turkey vulture snack. It wasn't even rooting for one prospect or the other, that's how nature operates, it doesn't care either way.
I began thinking of stupid things, about how I had the show Burn Notice on TiVo and it would be a shame if I didn't see it tonight because I was lost on a mountain. I began wondering if I really could fashion a lean-to out of twigs and rocks if necessary. I began wondering... if maybe on the top of the mountain I could get some service on my cell phone?
It was a long shot, service obviously doesn't really get to phones in the wilderness. But somehow, some way, it worked on top of that mountain. So we made it back, after all that wandering, and I got to see my Burn Notice episode. I even forgave the buffalo, thinking that though it had sent me spiraling down a mountain packed with rattlesnakes, dead ends, and torrential rain... I at least got a story out of it.