Fear Of The Outdoor Dark

There’s nothing like rising with the dull gray of the coming sunrise, to reach a desired location to shoot photos, video, or to just enjoy the sounds, the sights, the smells, and the feel of it all.   It’s the time when wildlife is most active, and the smells seemingly the most fresh.   It’s wise to find a secluded spot with a good view of the terrain, where you can be the quiet observer. Wisdom suggests you bring someone along that will enjoy what you experience together, and who needs this type of an opportunity to refresh their perspective.

Traveling by yourself can ramp-up the emotions, and sometimes fear is the unwanted result.  A loud snap or rustles in the brush, while likely a deer, a bird, or reptile, can bring about thoughts of larger animals such as a coyote, bobcat, bear, wolf, or bear.  Your fears may be dependent on your proximity to these animals, but nonetheless you may conjure up some wild concerns.  I’ve spent long moments alone on a trail, concerning myself with what might be in the darkness, behind a stand of trees, or around a bend.

On one recent winter trek across a forested plateau, with a small group of hikers, we came across tracks that appeared to be from a mountain lion.  We were aware that these animals were prevalent near this trail which, led to a world-class scenic overlook.  Our group of five was large enough to keep a cougar away, but that didn’t dampen our fears on the return trip as we came across these same tracks only to find blood scattered in the light snow.

Months later I took a summer-time hike, this time by myself in this same area, hoping to shoot some photos at dusk.  The views at sunset were remarkable sitting on the rim of a dramatic canyon, but then came the 75 minute walk with the scant light of a headlamp.  The tall Ponderosa pine forest, and the lack of a moon, made everything beyond a 10-foot radius pitch black.   I spoke loudly, yelled would be more accurate, as I negotiated the trail in the dark.  My Maori Huka training from my days in New Zealand, came back to me clearly and I entertained the squirrels and other animal life with wild vociferous renditions. Several times I turned and challenged the trail behind me with loud ancient Maori threats. Such was my conduct across the entire trail until I was safe in my truck.  You may smile at my antics, but try this on your own, and you’ll re-enact your own Maori war dance before your done.

Zion National Park
Here’s one of the views I’ve suffered darkness for.

Suggestions: Photography and video come close to capturing the moment, but a notepad is another way to record your thoughts, feelings, and emotions.

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