Wednesday, January 25, 2006

the fool(s) on the hill.

You know where a lot of people go when they get released from prison? Here. The Great Northwest. The Fourth Corner region, to be specific...gateway to the Cascades - and a hugeass swatch of heavily wooded land running right along the Canadian border that doesn't even have logging roads going through it.

It makes sense when you think about it. If someone spends 20 years locked up in a cement box it only stands to reason that they're going to head for the biggest stretch of wide open they can find when they finally get out. The ones with enough chutzpah- or at least the ones with no federal offenses in their background, able to cross international borders, head for Alaska.
The losers stay here. Yay.
They pick up a camper (or a car, or a tent, or a couple of blue plastic tarps, or some garbage bags and cardboard boxes), find themselves a nice turnaround on a logging road waaaaaaay back in the brush, and settle in.

Guess who didnt know that?

Guess who found out? Wearing a nothing but a pair of shorts and a bra?

Backcountry motorcyclists may be annoying as hell, but they're dedicated to their sport. Sapsuckers cut a mean trail, too. You see signs of shovel and chainsaw activity, but for the larger part I think what these guys must do is rip throttle and randomly head in a direction, balls out - thorns, logs, creeks, come what may, the twistier and hillier the better, and just take shit out with their faces.

The foothills around here are full of these racecourses and they make a great hike in the spring. By summertime they're so overgrown that travelling them by foot is boring; just unending green three feet in front of your face (although imagine travelling that at 60 mph! Monstrous!) but in the springtime, it's a Chinese landscape of lacy bare branches, mossed over tree trunks and the occasional blossom.

Once you cross over onto the north side of a hillock, though, theres an immediate change. If the area is particularly protected from wind there will be an actual frost line in the dirt to mark that change. One side will be experiencing early Spring, the other side, separated by milimeters, will still be frozen in late winter. Softwood trees like poplar and cottonwood on the borders literally explode. In just the right areas, they receive a sudden early morning blast of hot sunshine just as full morning comes over the mountain shadow. Having been hard frozen full of water all winter long, weak cells rigid and split by crystal formation, the wood on the sunside begins to heat and steam, and suddenly the trunks will split as though lightening spiked them, top to bottom, with a report like a gunshot. It isn't a legend. I've seen it happen.

I was walking one of these trails one late spring day with the idiot dogs taking it all in, happy to be outdoors. We were playing 'rock'. Pay attention; the rules are complex. You throw a softball sized rock up a steep trail cut, the dogs run up after it and then follow it down and bark at it. If it happens to stop, they give it a bump and start it rolling again and bark some more. When the rock comes to a rest on level ground they will stop and bark some more.
Then i come huffing and puffing up and throw the rock up the hill and we all start over again.

So here comes the fat broad crashing through the underbrush. Opie the boy dog is joyfully romping after me headlong into trees on his stout little legs; 'Oh BOY! This is GREAT! I have NO IDEA whats going on!' and Jet, the mighty Yutz of the Woods, is climbing trees and eating dirt and barking at skunk cabbages...just a happy little group of morons out for a hike.
...when we all enter, quite suddenly, someones camp.

Now I had been shedding clothes for an hour. Sweatshirt, henley and finally t-shirt were bundled around my waist, and there I was with my awesome moontanned gut hanging out and my fetching black sports bra.

We had wandered into a sudden clearing about as round as the average front yard is wide. In the middle stood a filthy tent, a firepit and a clothesline strung from the trees. Had we not discovered it by chance we never would have discovered it by design. It was in a perfect little bowl in the land, sort of tented over by windfall and undergrowth. I swear to you, had I been three steps off the path I would have walked right by it.
'Dang,' I think.

The idiots are just excited as all hell, coursing the ground back and forth sniffing like two little steam engines.

Right when they go into the tent is when the tree I am standing next to moves.

It was not a tree. It was a guy.

He had been standing perfectly, perfectly still...and he was standing close enough to my side to bump me with his shoulder. He was about six foot, skinny as death, grey skin, long grey hair and long grey beard, all dressed in grey and black. Perfectly camoflaged, he blended right in with the mossy grey bark of the evergreens.

but this is the creepy part.

When I say he moved, what I mean is,
Oh gosh, Im so sorry, I didnt see you, here, Jett, here, Opie, I'm really sorry, man, I had no idea you were here, get out of the mans' tent guys, I'm so sorry, how rude, seriously, I'm sorry,' and I'm grabbing dogs by the collar and slinging them into the brush and HOLY SHITFIRE MOSES I just pick a direction and RUN.

I mean flat out RAN. I was MOVING. No Hayabusa on Earth could have beat me; me and my two hairy little retards. 'Wow! Check out mom! Cool! Right through the creek! Go, mom!' My shoes were full of icewater, I had pine needles and dirt in my bra from falling down a couple of times, I did NOT care.

I dove right into my car, hit the gas and blazed down that mountain, slinging gravel. All the way down I'm saying 'ohfuckohfuckohfuckohfuckohfuckohfuckohfuck' like a mantra. I drove until I hit Welcome and then I pulled off to the side of the road, ran into the quickiemart, still in my bra mind you, straight into the restroom, and pissed like a goddamn racehorse.

Then, and only then, sitting there on the throne in my bra, did I get scared.

Was it merely some harmless, nature loving nut up on that hill?
It could very well have been.
Was it some dude that had just served 20 years for raping infants and violating the deceased? Just as likely.

Am I going to ever go back? Oh HELL no.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous12:31 PM

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.