I Have a Story (2)

(My sister has a lot of interesting things that happened to her.  Here’s one of them she texted to me)

I have a story.

Slinging my cameras over my shoulder one beautiful afternoon, I headed out in anticipation of spending some time outdoors in a nearby park.  I drove along a dirt road into a canyon floor, with a horseshoe ridge above, and parked in a dirt cul-de-sac.  I noted that I had the place all to myself, no other vehicles or people in sight.  I had been to this wilderness park before, but had never explored this section.  I had high hopes of capturing spectacular photos of the lavender butterflies that roosted on the shrubs everywhere.

After climbing halfway up the hill of one end of the horseshoe ridge, I immediately found the butterflies.  Quickly engrossed in getting close-ups of the creatures, I became oblivious to anything else around me.  You can imagine my surprise when, as I focused on a butterfly, a scruffy-bearded man came into focus about 15-yards below me and behind my subject.  I continued to pretend I was photographing the butterfly, while studying the man.  He was twice my weight, muscular, same height as me, 30-ish in years, and dressed in traditional motorcycle-gang garb—lots of black leather, chains, and denim pants.

I calmly continued the charade of taking photographs, while I figured out what I was going to do.  We were alone out in the middle of nowhere.  He did not appear to be doing any normal thing a hiker would do; he just stood there staring off into space.  My hackles rose as it occurred to me I was the prey, and he was the predator.

“Nonsense,” I told myself. “I’m making something out of nothing.”

I started moving up the hill.  When I moved up the hill, he moved up the hill.  When I stopped, he stopped.  It became clear in my mind that I was being stalked.

My mind raced.  How could I escape?  He was below me, so I had to go up.  If I climbed the last 10-yards to the top, I would be temporarily out of his sight.  I knew the other side of the ridge was a cliff, so I couldn’t go down the opposite side to get help.  I climbed the rest of the hill still pretending to look for butterflies, angling to the left.  As soon as I got to the top, I ducked, went in the opposite direction to the right, and squatted behind a large clump of shrubs.  I peeked around the shrub close to the ground, and there he was, standing where I came to the top of the hill, looking around in all directions for me.

(Me) Oh my!

(My sister) My only option was to travel in a crouched position, lower than the shrubs, up the leg of the “horseshoe”, increasing the distance between us before he discovered me.  I headed away from him as fast as I could go in a squat position, the sandy ground letting me travel quietly.  Soon my leg muscles ached, but I ignored the pain and pressed on to save my life.

When I reached the middle of the “horseshoe”, I spotted a place where I could possibly slide down the hill into the canyon.  Without thought of spiders and snakes, I slid downhill on loose leaves through the trees and brush.  I reached the bottom and hid to hear if he was following me downhill.  My legs were in agony.  I heard nothing.  Could he be waiting for me at my car?

I snuck in the direction of my car, expecting him to pop out at any minute.  Finally, I came to the clearing where…

I’ll be back.  Going on break

(Me) Oh, great.

(My sister) I’m back.

My car was parked.  He wasn’t by my car.  Was he hiding near the clearing, waiting for me to return?  There were still no other people or vehicles there.  I quietly, carefully made my way closer to the car.  Terrified, I decided to make a run for it.  What else could I do?  With the key in the ready position, I ran like a gazelle to the car, unlocked it in record time, dived in, and took off as fast as I could.

I shook as I drove home.  My legs were in excruciating pain, and my adrenalin rush had run out of gas.  I was young, terrified, and surprised that I had survived the situation.

It took over a week for my legs to recuperate from covering that much ground in a squatting position.  It also took a couple of days for my energy to return.  The incident had completely drained me.  I never did return to that park.  Now, thirty years later, I invested in a treadmill so I would not have to walk in unsafe places by myself again.

The end

(Me) Wow, too bad you didn’t take photos of the guy and show the police!!

(My sister) Never thought of it.

(Me) Ha! Well, it was exciting to read about. And you ducked out of writing at just the right time, leaving me hanging on a cliff with only one finger!

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