Fear at the Lookout

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Journal entry from the morning of Wed, Feb 1st, 2012. Kenny and I are at “The Lookout” about a half mile off the AT in Vermont, near Wintturi Shelter.

“Victor, wake up.”
“Huh?”
“There’s a coyote circling the cabin.”
“How sure are you?”
“Pretty damn sure. I heard it barking.”

I armed myself with a stick and Kenny wedged the door shut. For several minutes we lay awake, startled at every sound the wind made, every bark, every crunchy snow step. Then we heard in the distance a scuffle, a yelp, and silence. He’d had a successful early morning hunt. We pulled our sleeping gear up a ladder to a loft to get a few more hours of shuteye.

Kenny tells me about the time in Mexico his group is stalked by a panther. The guide says, “Do not break pace. Do not look at it. Show the panther no sign of fear, and he will not charge.” It stalked them all the way back to town.

We’ve broken the social contract by being here. That’s what people really mean when they call us crazy. The contract that says “follow our rules and we will protect you.” It’s the foundation of social law. We come out here and abandon that for a short while in favor of the Natural Contract. Show no fear, accept pain and discomfort, and leave no trace, and she will show you her beauties and let you live to tell of them.

A coyote could have very well stalked us in one of our three walled shelters, and we would not have had the luxuries of a door to wedge or a loft to climb. When we sign the Natural Contract, we place our faith in our own personal faculties of physical and emotional strength. We put our faith in the Wild, that She will spare us for bringing her message down from the mountain to the rest of our kind. No one calls us crazy for succeeding, only for attempting.

SHOW THE PANTHER NO SIGN OF FEAR, AND HE WILL NOT CHARGE.

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Victor A. Davis has always loved reading and writing short stories. He is an avid hiker and even when away from the world of laptops and wifi, keeps a pocket paperback and a handwritten journal to keep him company on trail. He is the author of two short story collections, Grains of Sand and The Gingerbread Collection. Join his Mailing List for special announcements about upcoming works.