The Coyote and the Cave

It was the President’s Day weekend and I had all three days off. So I decided to spend it hiking some of the rugged back country west of U.S. 95 and the Veterans Memorial Highway.

My plan was to venture around in a couple of the canyons along the mountainside, taking pictures and doing a little camping. It all started off well, but the weather wasn’t as cooperative as I had hoped it would be.

The second day, massive clouds formed over the mountain top and I decided it would be a good thing to get back to where I had parked my car. I knew my vehicle was several hours away, so it would become a race against the weather.

About two and a half hours into my forced-march back towards the junction of the memorial highway and 95, a snow storm blew in. I decided to continue on.

However it got so bad that I couldn’t see very far ahead of me and even though I had a compass, I was more afraid of finding a steep ledge to step off of or a deep ravine to fall in rather than getting lost. After another hour or so I concluded it would be best if I sheltered in place.

Fortune smiled on me as I started to prepare for a rough night in the canyon, I spotted a small overhang in a group of rocks at the base of the canyon walls. That, I realized, would be the best spot to gain shelter from the wind and blowing snow.

Once at the outcropping, I soon found it was more than jus’ an overhang. It was the entrance to a very small cave.

After a quick exploration inside with flashlight, and learning it wasn’t home to some wild beast, I dragged my backpack inside and rolled out my ground cover. I decided to forego my pup tent, instead opting to jus’ climb in my sleeping bag, atop the blue tarp I used as protection from a moist earth.

Daylight passed into darkness and the snow piled up over the entry to the cave. I cooked a coffee cup full of raisins in some water and ate it, before turning in for the night.

What time it was, I haven’t a clue. I jus’ know I woke up because I felt like I was no longer alone.

Flicking on my flashlight, I shined it around the cave. Laying at the foot of my sleeping bag, I found an animal.

I jumped from fright.

However, the animal appeared more frightened than me and it bolted out of the cave and into the snow storm. I knew immediately what sort of animal it was as it disappeared from sight — a coyote.

I laid back down knowing the coyote was gone and tried to sleep.

It was somewhere near dawn when I awoke. I opened my eyes, looked around the darkness, then realized I had some sort of weight resting on my feet and lower legs.

Slowly I sat up and found my friend, the coyote had returned. He looked up at me and again bolted out of the cave.

I never saw him again after that.

By this time the storm had broken and I was able to hike the remainder of the way to my car and head for home. And though I have been back four more times to the area, I’ve never been able to find that cave again.

However, I will never forget the night a coyote took his comfort by snuggling up to me for warmth.

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