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Chatting around the campfire A.T.T.A.C.K. XV
By Duane Miles
Accidents or catastrophic events are like that. One moment you’re at peace with the world and the next it’s at war with you.
Or perhaps this explanation best describes a bad situation which you once found yourself in; you felt that you had the world by the tails — as the old cliche goes — when suddenly the world seemed to have you by the throat, using another common expression.
While heading homeward, Russ Thomas was quite pleased with that day’s hike to Sol Duc Lake.
He was experiencing something which he enjoyed immensely. His knapsack was full of fish and he had yet another tale of a successful fishing trip upon reaching civilization. But as things turned out, that story had for more information than originally planned.
It was an unmistakable snarl which instantly took Russ out of his cruise control mood. Daydreaming was quickly put aside as he locked onto the gaze of a fearsome creature, well inside his comfort zone.
Russ knew he was in big trouble. This cat meant business, that of dining on him if he wasn’t able to fight it off. All he had for a weapon was the fishing rod in his hand. He thrust its tip at the determined cougar to keep it at bay.
The animal permitted no allowance for Russ to reach those fish in his pack. They couldn’t be used as a possible distraction to this creature’s intention of possessing him.
The fishing rod was almost useless as a weapon. The cougar was quickly reducing its length. Russ desperately needed something more adequate in his hands. As he continued to back down that steep slope, he not only began looking for another weapon from the ground, but he was also very careful to make sure he picked a route without obstacles. This terrain was a virtual minefield, though. The last thing he wanted was to make himself an easy target by falling down or being cornered against a large windfall.
There was a serious issue with this plan, though; for each time he broke eye contact with this adversary, its aggressive assault intensified.
Russ was in Douglas fir country. As this tree matures, it readily sheds its brittle limbs everywhere on the forest floor. Russ soon had his hands on what at first appeared to be a solid weapon. It was seven feet long, and two inches in diameter.
With this limb he was able to more than triple the distance between himself and that cat. His confidence was immediately bolstered that the odds were finally in his favor. He was now certain that he was going to get out of this ordeal alive.
But this hope was short-lived. For this large wild cat was not treating that now obviously brittle limb with any respect. Rapidly it was becoming shorter and shorter.
Russ began to feel very disheartened once again, even though by now the park service trail was less than a half mile away.
Would he be able to reach that possible safety zone before his limb was reduced to the size of a Keystone Cop night stick? (Well, maybe not in those exact words.)
To be continued ...