It was a wet spring and early summer here in Oregon where we have spent the last three months waiting out travel restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This extra moisture caused grasses here in the park to grow very tall with seed tops towering over six feet. This is not the grass you find in your yard. More like you would see on a National Geographic documentary on lions and tigers on the continent of Africa. The seed heads are the size of my forearm and the individual grass blades are at least two fingers wide.
The RV Park has a mile-long natural trail around the perimeter. We are parked up against the trail so I like to jump on as often as I can. It is bordered in many places by 10 foot blackberry bushes (ripening as we speak) and several old trees to provide shade. A slough off of the Willamette River runs along one portion of the trail. Across the slough there are miles of hop fields that we have watched grow up the vine and hoping to see how they are harvested before we head out. It is a nice distraction during my work day.
Last week a sign appeared at the head of the trail closest to the RV that read, “Cougar seen in Park.” Hmmmm. Since I really did not know much about the Oregon cougar I did a little research. My search resulted in a few images alongside stories of how they have attacked people in the state – some survived, others did not. So now I think this is serious and I should stay off the trail for a while, especially at dawn and dusk.
But the sign went up 9 days ago and I learned that cougars have a range of 100 square miles. I wondered why they would hang out here with a couple hundred campers. But then, a favorite past time of RV Park residents is walking their pets. I say pets and not dogs, because one couple walks a cat on a leash while reading a book. And this is not the only time I have witnessed this oddity. [That is a topic for another story.] So today I ventured down the trail at midday.
About 50 yards from the tall grasses there is a fenced in doggy park. Two signs hung on the fence facing the trail. The first one said the doggy park was closed because of the cougar. Understandable. I can see where a poodle might look like dinner to a large cat. The second sign was the same as the one on the trail head, but the date was only 5 days ago.
I decided to turn around before I reached the tall grasses. The walk back was a bit different than the walk out. When I first got on the trail I was taking my time looking at ripening blackberries, thinking I wished I liked them more. The birds were also putting on a show darting in and out of the bushes somehow missing the very large thorns. But after reading those two signs on the doggy run, my amygdala kicked in survivor mode. I looked around at every sound and made sure to look up, because I’ve seen those pictures of big cats in trees and did not want to have it land on my head.
I made it back relieved but also a bit disappointed having never seen a cougar in the wilds of an RV park. It may still be out there waiting on some unsuspecting traveler walking their pet. I say pet instead of just dog, because there is a lady here that walks her cat each night while reading a book. But that is for another post.
Maybe someday I can share my experience in an Alaska campground where I got caught between a grizzly mom and her two cubs a dozen yards from my RV.
Remember to Design the Life You Love.