Hiking on New Year’s Eve

On New Year’s Eve, the waves must not have been big enough to entice His Highness the Surfer because he suggested we go for a day hike. It was a gorgeous day to be outdoors; crisp and clean air, blue skies.

If all you know about the OC is what you’ve learned from the Real Housewives of Orange County or The Hills, it’ll surprise you to learn that there’s a lot of beautiful preserved land.

cougarThe last time we were in this same mountain range at Caspers Wilderness Park, there were active mountain lion sightings and warnings. I studied predatory animals in college; wolves, coyotes, mountain lions, and bobcats. The mountain lion is the only animal that I’m afraid of. They’re incredibly strong and their behavior is unpredictable. I’ve only seen or heard them a couple of times but there have been several attacks in this area over the years, and I’m always a bit anxious, searching for prints, scat, and looking in the trees where they like to stretch out and take a snooze just like any other kitty cat.

mountain-lion-warning photoIt was unsettling to see this sign as we entered the park.  I wondered what exactly the park rangers meant when I read, “Convince the lion you are not prey and that you might be dangerous yourself.”

OK, that brought on an episode of role playing. As we drove to the trailhead to park, I told the captain his role was to be the mountain lion and my job was to convince him not to kill me.

“Hey guy, you’re lookin’ pretty good today, nice and healthy. How’s about we have a little convo? I’d like you to try and put yourself in my shoes–not literally, of course!  (Little joke there, Mr. Cougar) I’m here for a nice little walk and I’m sure that we don’t want to ruin my day, do we? Look at it from my point of view. I’ve seen many moons and my meat is no longer tender and young–although to be perfectly honest, I have been described as a cougar in my day. You probably wouldn’t enjoy the meal anyway. Why don’t we just agree to disagree? And if that doesn’t convince you, I have been known to go batshit crazy for no apparent reason, and you do NOT want to set me off.”

The captain didn’t really think it was a very compelling argument and probably wouldn’t convince a mountain lion that I might be dangerous, although he did agree that I have been known to go batshit crazy at times, and actually he IS kind of scared of me.

(So there’s that. Good to know; I’ll stow that gem away for future reference.)

I have no idea if the park rangers were trying to be funny since the sign didn’t elaborate, but we didn’t have to debate any mountain lions that day or yesterday, thank goodness!

We drove to Orange County near the quaint Ortega Oaks Candy Store on Ortega Highway/Highway 74 from Interstate 5, about an hour away from home.

The Bear Canyon Trail is about 6.5 miles, although we took a detour that added time to our hike and it took us about four hours. It’s not the most strenuous hike I’ve been on, but it was still challenging.

Here’s the captain at the trailhead. I don’t carry anything but water and makeup. Hee hee.captaintrailhead

I created a gallery of the other pics I took. Check out the snow on the San Gabriel and San Jacinto mountain range.

I wish everyone a healthy, happy, prosperous 2013!