#259 Not a Hero
The sun shone brightly in a cloudless sky as Meg and I took our hiking gear from the car.
“I’m leaving our raincoats. No sense in carrying them.”
“Sure,” Meg said, “We definitely won’t need them. The trail’s only a nine mile loop. We’ll return here in a few hours.”
We started up the trail that rose 2000 feet, so the incline was steep. The trail had rocks, more like boulders on it, and we had to climb over them.
“This is a designated mountain bike trail,” I said. “How the hell do bikers ride over the rocks?”
“I don’t know,” Meg said, “But what I want to know is, what kind of wild animals are there around here?”
“There’s bears, mountain lions, and wild pigs.”
She stopped to survey the woods and landscape. “Do you think we’ll come across any?”
“I’ve seen pigs, but never a bear or lion.” Meg looked relieved when I said that. I crawled under a fallen tree blocking the trail halfway up the mountain.
Meg tried to crawl under it, but she got her backpack tangled in some branches. I tried to yank her free just as rain began to fall. Lightning struck a nearby tree splitting it in half.
“Get me out from under here,” Meg yelled, but her voice got overpowered by a mountain lions’ roar.
It must have seen Meg as helpless prey. It charged toward her. I stood up to run, but I slipped on the wet ground as the lion leaped through the air with Meg as its intended victim. My stainless steel hiking stick hit the ground, point up, directly in front of Meg. The lion came down on it, and the pole penetrated its heart. It died with a loud yowl as it fell to the ground inches from Meg.
“You saved me,” Meg exclaimed, took my face in her hands and planted a kiss on my lips that I’ll never forget. I broke the branch holding her captive. She stood, and I helped her adjust her pack. “You’re so brave. How many men would have risked their lives as you did to save me?”
I wasn’t about to tell her that I slipped and killing the lion was an accident. “Do you want to continue?” I asked. “Or do you want to get out of here?”
“Our chances of running into another wild animal are slim, so let’s finish our hike.”
Brave girl. I was ready to get out of there, but didn’t want Meg to know how scared I was. We hiked on for over an hour. We stopped, sat on a log and Meg took sandwiches from her backpack. Rain fell on them as we ate.
“Look, a bear!” Meg shouted.
Sure enough, there was a black bear rushing toward us. Must have smelled the food. I got up and ran as fast as I could. To my surprise, Meg ran past me. Instinctively I reached out, grabbed her shoulder and shoved her behind me so the bear would get her and not me. I looked over my shoulder and saw the bear had caught its intended victim, a deer. Hadn’t seen the deer running in front of the bear. When I stopped. Meg ran into me.
“You freakin’ coward,” she said and pummeled me with her fists.
Good thing I’m a fast thinker. “I wanted you to stop running; that’s why I grabbed you. My momentum carried me past you.”
“Why did you want me to stop, so the bear would get me?”
“No, don’t be stupid, I saw the bear wasn’t chasing us.” Pointing to the bear eating the deer, I said, “I wanted you to stop running so the bear wouldn’t focus on you instead of the deer. Let’s get back to the car.”
“Oh, you really are a hero. I’m sorry. I owe you for your bravery today.”
The look on her face told me I’d get lucky tonight.