So what was it that had my heart racing and a scream escape my lips? (Please keep in mind that I am not, generally speaking, a screaming type of person.) I know you are guessing it was a bear. Wrong. I am not saying I enjoy bear encounters, but for the most part when we do cross paths the bear goes his/her way and I go mine. So today when I came across this specimen I felt no sense of alarm. Most days when I walk on this trail I come across at least one pile of fresh bear scat. In fact, my record this summer was the day I came across four extremely fresh, extraordinarily large piles of bear poop. The sad thing about that incident is the fact that it wasn't until the fourth pile that I realized the obvious- that the bear was clearly walking just ahead of me and had been for some time. So no, it wasn't a bear that had my knickers in a knot today.
Nor was it one of the resident coyotes or cougars. I'm not saying an encounter with one of them wouldn't have made my heart beat a little bit faster, but I am quite sure I wouldn't have screamed!
No, today's encounter occupies the #1 spot on my list of All Time Worst Fears. It has some pretty stiff competition from the #2 and #3 spots, held respectively by flying and dentists. The whole "fear of flying" thing is annoying since I love traveling, especially internationally. It sort of takes the edge off the whole trip anticipation factor. And dentists, well, I guess they are a necessary evil, but still, that doesn't mean I have to like them. Oral surgeons would be excluded from the dentist category since they give you great drugs so you aren't aware of the torture being inflicted on your mouth. Orthodontists, however, are included with the dentists simply because of the fear they induce when they tell you how much it is going to cost to straighten your child's teeth. I digress.
So here it is, the source of my rapid heart beat and wimpy screaming episode today. My #1 fear.
Ick. Ick. Ick. This was at the beginning of my walk, which meant that for the remainder of the time I was totally and completely paranoid. I jumped at every stick and piece of debris on the trail, and when a leaf blew in front of me I might possibly have shrieked. I'm not sure what was up with that- in my state of terror I must have temporarily forgotten that snakes don't fly.