Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Wordy Wednesday

Here's a great new Wordy Wednesday. I love these stories. I'll try to have my next Sonita post by Thurs. night or Friday......

What We Do for Love!

It was the third evening of my first wilderness pack trip. We'd had a lot of adventure, so we went to bed pretty early -- about 9:30 p.m. Sleep was quick to come and I crossed my fingers that the day's ride was enough to keep Maxine quiet for the night. If only! At some point in the night, I was roused by nervous pawing.

I rolled over and asked Travis what time it was. I prayed that it was at least 5:00 a.m. so that I would have an excuse to start her breakfast to quiet her down. Travis checked his watch and replied, "It's 11:00 p.m."


Tired and groggy, I rolled out of the tent and walked to Maxine's clearing. The nearly full moon flooded the wilderness, so I could see without a flashlight. A strong wind had come up -- the haunting tree-top wind that brings monsters and ghouls from lands far away. I looked at Maxine. She was calm in my presence, but I could see fear in her eyes. "Momma, how could you leave me tied here, alone, as bait for a cougar or whatever creature might be lurking in the shadows?"

My heart sank.

I turned to walk back to the tent. As soon as I passed the trees, Max started to fuss again. I knew what I had to do...

"Psst. Give me my sleeping bag," I said to Travis.


"Give me my sleeping bag," I repeated. "She's scared and I can't leave her up there alone. She might tie herself up again. I'm going to sleep with her."

"Do you have to?"

"Yes, I do."

I quickly returned to Maxine's clearing -- sleeping bag in one hand, chair in the other. "This is nuts," I thought, as I placed the chair near her head, hopped in my sleeping bag, and settled in. Fortunately, my sleeping bag unzips from the bottom, so I was able to stick my feet out (in case I needed to get away in a hurry).

With the bag warmly over my head and flashlight in hand, I closed my eyes to get some sleep. Max stood quietly above me, making happy mule sounds.

I wish I could say that we fell asleep then and there, but that wasn't the case. Max was quiet but still very aware of her surroundings. Every so often, she'd freeze, staring into the woods behind us.

Now, the sensible part of my brain knew that there was nothing to be scared of. We weren't in bear country and it was highly unlikely that a cougar would attack a giant blue worm in the middle of the night. Still, I was surrounded by darkness and the unknown, so I wasn't quite so sure about my safety.

I drifted in and out of sleep for about an hour. Then, at about 12:30 p.m., Maxine locked on something in the distance. Something was walking toward us -- an animal that sounded to be about 120 to 150 pounds. I froze, cursing myself for bringing my flashlight but leaving my knife safely in the tent.

The animal came closer.

"Sit or stand?" I thought. "Sit or stand?"

Finally, it was too close for comfort. I leapt from my chair and shined my light into the forest. The animal gave out an eery cry, "Eeeugh!" It turned and headed further into the forest. It cried again, this time from a much greater distance. I stood frozen for a moment, then I looked around at Maxine. She dropped her head and began quietly licking and chewing. Content the creature was leaving, I returned to my chair and sunk lower in my sleeping bag.

Personal observation: I never did see what crossed our path that night, and no one else heard our visitor except my husband Travis (so I'm not completely insane). The general consensus amongst the group the next day is that it was a deer that was headed to the lake for a midnight drink. Mom had seen a doe in the area twice, so it made sense. Travis and I later listened to some deer sounds online, and it's quite possible that it's what we heard. Deer or not, it was creepy as hell in the middle of the night!

I woke up again around 2:00 a.m. The wind had died down and the moon was about 20 minutes from dropping beyond the horizon. I knew it would be really dark soon and I'd be much happier if I were safe in the tent. I'm not sure why I feel safer behind a millimeter of nylon, but I do.

Maxine was sleeping soundly, so I tip-toed to the tent. I waited for her to stir as I unzipped the door, but she remained quiet. I happily snuggled up next to Travis, who hadn't gotten much sleep either. He was too busy worrying about me.

Exhausted, I was soon in dreamland.

Of course, this was just one adventure from "The Pack Trip from Hell." You can read about the rest on my blog, Mule Musings, at

I hope you enjoyed my story!


Redsmom said...

Oooh, creepy! I was scared for you when you described the approaching creature. Your are such a good mule mom to go sleep with your baby. She has a sweet face!

mocharocks said...

You're braver than I am. I would have had hubby out there with me and I wouldn't have tried to find whatever it was with a flashlight, I would have run as fast as I could out of there! I'm a wimp. Love your mule! I'm a new fan of long ears since I got my little pony mule last fall as a companion for Mocha!

Unknown said...

Oh man that reminds me of what I heard last night. I went out late to check on the horses and give Indigo a scratch and pat. I was rubbing her neck and I hear this weird raspy cooing noise. I've never heard it before. I froze on the spot and Indigo looked up towards the silo with interest. It made the noise again and I just about crapped my pants, thinking about if I got eaten by something no one would find me until morning.

It turned out to be a little screech owl that fell down the silo and it's coo-ing was amplified by the tin roof. Phew, no monsters.

Shanster said...

Good story! What a nice looking mule! You are MUCH more brave than I am! I would have been imagining sasquatch...

Callie said...

Geezus! That had me creeped out to the very end! I think I'd a crapped myself, literally! Yikes!

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Laura Crum said...

I loved your story. I have been on many pack trips in the Sierra Nevada Mts of California. I was reminded of the trip when I woke up to hear a horse pawing. I got up and checked the stock. Naturally it was my 5 yr old horse, Plumber. But he wasn't just agitated. He was colicked. It isn't unusual for young horses to colic from stress on their first pack trip. But we were two days ride from a vet. I always carry a vet kit. I gave Plumber a shot of Banamine. I got up every two hours the rest of the night to check him. It was not a peaceful night.

I am happy to say that Plumber was fine. He never colicked again (knock on wood) and he's twenty this spring . But pack trips are frequently full of such dicey moments. Thanks for a great story,.

Helen said...

I'm very very glad Australia has no bears or cougars or indeed any large maneating animals (barring some big and nasty feral dogs which have escaped domesticity.) I think I'd be afraid to camp in the US.

*Chicken squawking noise*

Jenny Hill said...

It's amazing what you can do for a "child." I'll admit, that trip taught me one thing--I'm a big fan of campsites with corrals.

Fyyahchild said...

I've never been around mules much but they're so stinkin' cute. One of the gals in our trail riding group has one so I'm looking forward to getting to know more about them. Great story.

I just wanted to tell everyone I'm riding in a horse show this weekend. We had a western trainer move to our barn about 6 months ago. She started riding as a really young kid on cutting horses even went to the youth Worlds, reined, did the whole rodeo queen thing and now teaches WP, but she's never ridden english. She bought a new horse and he's not slow enough for WP so I'm teaching her how to ride english. Because her horse, Spanky, is ranch broke and an-ex roper he is very different from my horses. I think I'm in love, and I get to show him in the english eq and pleasure classes on Sat. Next she promised I get to learn how to spin him!

Fyyahchild said...

Oh, and I was going to say for being an ex-roping ranch horse it was pretty easy to teach him english cues. I wasn't sure what to expect. What a smart boy.

Redsmom said...

Fryah, please immediately send the horse to me! Just kidding. How fortunate you met a cool new riding friend. Good luck at the show.

Mule Musings, I love your blog. I enjoyed the full version of the packing trip story and your showing stories, too.

I was perusing the local Craiglist and I found young lady who is very experienced, who just wants to ride as she doesn't have her own horse. I told her the full Dude story and she is willing to ride him! I can't wait!

mugwump said...

Redsmom!!! Make her sign a release! A very detailed one! Red flag! Red flag!

Fyyahchild said...

Redsmom - You'll have to pry him out of my little english saddle first. :D

I also wanted to say I met a nice gal through Craigslist who comes out to ride my beasts occasionally because she can't afford her own. I did have her sign a waiver but it's been a year and it's been great. A side bonus she photographs at the local shows including this weekend so I get lots of good pic choices.

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