Mountain Squirrel Madness

Purple mountains majesty and all that jazz…

So earlier this week I forayed forth on a solo backpacking trip, the first of the year. Which makes it sound like I get out several times every year for exciting backpacking trips through the mountains of Colorado. The truth is that I’m really good at planning backpack trips, but less accomplished at actually going on said trips. I finally ran out of excuses last week, so off I went.

I’d have been perfectly happy to have taken Mary along, instead of leaving her behind to run the business, and watch the house. But, for Mary, the idea of hiking up mountains, sleeping in a tent, and eating reconstituted freeze-dried lasagna with meat sauce (which tastes pretty much like you would imagine) comes in just behind that of a root canal performed without Novocain. Besides, as I understand it, there was, while I was gone, a burrito festival, in our house, where Mary attempted with a great deal of success to consume all three daily meals in the form of a burrito. This, apparently, is something I would not allow if I were home.

All in all I had a pretty much perfect trip with great weather, a good trail, lots of wonderful scenery and no attacks by wildlife. Well, except for the squirrel. I’d like to say that it was a tale of epic bravery amid terrible danger, but we are talking about a squirrel, after all. They don’t exactly have a reputation as the furry piranhas of the mountains.

So there I was sitting on a tree stump, sipping a cup of coffee, and watching the sun come up when I noticed a small grey squirrel enter my field of vision. At this time in the morning my field of vision isn’t expansive, it’s usually around the size of a newspaper. A herd of bears, if there were such a thing, could have been located a couple of feet away and I probably wouldn’t have noticed it. But I noticed this squirrel. Because all of a sudden it started running straight at me, full bore, chittering madly all the way. It approached with such speed and obviously murderous intent (I think it was murderous, but who really knows what dwells within the heart of a squirrel), that I started edging backwards, not at all sure where this was going. Was there a separate breed of squirrels up in the high Rockies that attacked prey a thousand times their size? I could have missed that in the guidebooks. In any case, he continued on his jet propelled way to within an easy arm’s length, at which point he executed a perfect 90 degree turn and ran off at right angles and away from me, still chittering. So, basically he was just playing squirrel chicken.

Since I got home, I found this report, about Black Death infected squirrels out in California, and now I’m pretty much convinced we’ve been spending way too much time worrying about bears and mountain lions, and not nearly enough time concerned with squirrels. I think the only safe thing to do is carpet bomb the forests, or nuke them from orbit. Whichever method is more effective in eliminating the apocalyptic little vermin.

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