I had many miles to drive yesterday, so I thought I’d stop along the way to stretch my legs and look for a letterbox (similar-ish to a geocache, but not). Absolutely loving the ‘here’ button on the Atlas Quest search page. I didn’t know exactly where I was, but AQ sure did!
My Garmin, however, is not as wonderful as AQ and had no idea where I was or how to get to the trail head. It was confidently guiding me along and announced that I had arrived at my destination. I was not so confident about that considering I was on a freeway overpass!!!
I had to go old school, using my brains and eyeballs instead of the Garmin. Luckily I noticed the brown trail sign below, so I continued on the freeway to the next exit and followed the frontage road back to the brown sign I saw from above.
Happily I reached my destination and paid the six dollar day use fee. The planter of the letterbox series I was searching for cautioned that the park gates close at five and they ‘mean it’. No problem I thought, I didn’t want to be out that long anyways.
It was a lovely hike with a Golden Eagle soaring above, huge flocks of Red Wing Black Birds swooshing up out of the brambles, and mama cows with their calves grazing on the hill sides next to me. I was enjoying myself a little too much because I missed the first three letterboxes and found myself looking at the very distinctive tree for the final box in the series. Whoops!
Heading back I had to pass through a long narrow tunnel of sorts that was created by a wall of barb wire covered in blackberry thorns to my left and a steep hill thick with brush and trees to my right. At the end of the tunnel stood a mama cow and her young baby calf.
She stomped, lowered her head, and said, “Snort!”
I tried backing down the tunnel to wait. More mama cows with their calves came down from the hill side to see what was going on at the end of the blackberry tunnel.
One adventurous calf thought he’d come say hi to me in the tunnel. Luckily his mom didn’t mind. I walked a bit forward which caused him to turn back around and go up the hill. At this point I remembered about the gate closing at 5:00. I peeked at my phone and it said 4:50.
I decided I needed to press the issue and see if I couldn’t get these ladies to mooove with out making them mad. I spoke up and told them my plans to continue forward, talking at them the whole time. Most went up the hill after the first calf; the rest just looked at me like I was nuts.
After I was safely past the last cow I started hiking as fast as I could back to my car. Just as I crest the last hill I see way in the distance a ranger truck parked at the trail head.
I hurry. The ranger gets out of his truck. I’m still hurrying. He walks around his truck. I have about a quarter of a mile to go. He gets back in his truck and sits with his door open. I hurry more. He got back out of his truck as I got closer.
I start apologizing just as soon as I’m within earshot. He frowns and puts his hand in his pocket. Fearing he’s going to pull out a ticket book I launch into my story about the mama cows and their calves blocking my way. He laughed and told me it was ok and he was glad I was safe. He then proceeded to tell me how to protect myself from mama cows “by getting big and loud like you would for a mountain lion”. He had his arms out stretched above his head in demonstration with a big grin on his face.
I couldn’t tell if he was making fun of me or not. He was chuckling quite a bit as I drove away.