Meribah: Dangerous Things

Part 3 of the story.  Before you read this, read Meribah* and Meribah: Descent.

mountain lion track

I reach the ledge that partially encircles the hollow.  My descent here will be tricky, as I face a sheer 50-foot drop of solid granite before the slope continues the rest of the way down to the creek.  I will have to work my way around to a cleft in the rock, where I can ease down to the slope below.

It will be dangerous, an easy place to fall, especially with a full pack of canned food and other supplies.  But I don’t have a full pack today.  Just a couple of frozen steaks, a six-pack of Coors, and a big bag of ginger snap cookies.  Ginger snaps were always his favorite.

I sit in the ledge for a few minutes, breathing the cool air and taking in the beauty of the hollow.  I think of what must be done.  I wonder if our roles were reversed if he would do what I am doing.

Beside my leg I notice a mountain lion track in the soft thin layer of dirt and moss that lies in patches on the granite outcrop.  The track is big and fresh.

So, we are not alone here after all.

The wildlife experts all say that the big cats haven’t come back into Alabama.  Country people see them on occasion, surprised to switch-on their porch lights in the middle of the night to see a six-foot-long-tailed cat eating dog food from a bowl on their back porches.  But the wildlife people always dismiss these sightings in the newspapers.  “What you saw was a big bobcat” they say.

Maybe they are trying to keep people from panicking.  Maybe they want to keep the cat’s reappearance into Alabama a secret, figuring some fool redneck will try to hunt it down and kill it.  Maybe the Department of Fish and Game is just stupid.  I don’t know.

Those of us who get off the trails — who have walked these wild places where roads don’t penetrate — we know better.

I reach behind my back and finger the .45 that is tucked into the waistband of my jeans. It would stop a mountain lion.  Probably even make a grizzly bear reconsider his position.

But I haven’t brought it for either.

Break time is over.  I have an appointment at the creek below, and I need to get moving again.

11 thoughts on “Meribah: Dangerous Things

  1. This is a work of fiction, my friend.

    But, if you want my honest opinion, I’d say yes. I haven’t seen one, although I have seen the Mexican Jaguarundi (also not supposed to be here).

    Northeast Alabama is lightly-populated, with vast stretches of unbroken forest. Rough country to hide and abundant wild game to eat.

    Plenty of country-folk claim to have seen them. I tend to side with the country folk.

  2. Love the story line here. I feel as if I’m on the trail as well, taking in all the beauty it has to offer. Playing guessing games at what’s at the end of the trail. A few considerations but I’ll know soon enough.

    We have documented mountain lion here in South Dakota, probably more in the western edge of the State in the Black Hills. There is a hunting season there. I saw one, undocumented of course, two years ago on a hike in a nature preserve that backed up to our then property, about an hours drive from here, along the Missouri River. A beautiful animal. With no proof of what I saw, very few believed me. He knew me, and I knew him.

  3. I believe there are mountain lions in Alabama. I have seen one in eastern Lee county about two years ago.
    Fleeting, only for a few moments, but a long tail, not a bobcat. Besides, it was much larger than a bobcat.

  4. Reading this I can visualize the journey. The fact of the sounds along the way, The preplanning of the journey. As a fiction writer you have my full attention. Animals have migrated due to human’s demands of their natural surrounds. We are selfish enough to not understand they have a right to their own territory as well.

    1. Thanks for the kind words.

      Less than ten years ago, people said there were no black bears in Alabama, even though a friend of mine showed me a photo captured on his game camera. Now we have them.

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