Owl Story from CDT hike ’98

Colorado hikingHiking along the CDT (Continental Divide Trail) in Colorado back in ’98 one day when I came across one of the most picturesque campsites. I was prepared to do some more miles yet that day as I had winter in the back of my mind and although i was not “running for the border” as some of my friends like to call the pull to keep moving. You see, when on a long distance trail that runs from Mexico to Canada, time is always a factor is your goal is to finish in one year.

Anyway, I had been doing big miles and saw this campsite that was in an open valley with a nice little pond

I was in need of a good cleanup as I had been out 3 or 4 days since town and this looked like an excellent place for a swim and some relaxation. Called “getting my RELAX on!” I set up the Mega-mid put some water on for tea and noodles and went and jumped in the water. It was a bit cold as we were probably somewhere between 10 and 11,000 feet but it was also a good place to wash some clothes.

Nobody around, peace and quiet, dinner cooking, feeling nice and clean and pretty awesome all around. I went inside the tent to get warm and started playing my guitar. I often carry my Martin Backpacker guitar when i hike, even alone as I am always working on some music and what better place than the outdoors on the CDT where more than likely you are not going to bother anyone.

Had my dinner, put my guitar away, was getting ready for bed when I went outside to enjoy the sunset and approaching dusk. Then a sudden scare as something flew by me not too far above my head and I noticed it was a horned owl. It landed in a tree not far away. Now, I really like owls and often do my owl call to try to get them to answer. So, this was a great moment to see one so close by.

Then he took off and circled around and Wow, once again he came just over my head and actually looked down at me as he came past. Then he landed in that same tree again, and then off into the distance. And AGAIN! He did the same thing 3 times, flying in a a big circle, coming just over my head, looking me in the eye and landing in the same tree and looking out to the north.
Finally, as it was starting to get dark now, I also looked up to the sky to the north and wow again, now the northern lights were going on!

Now, I had seen the northern lights before but coming from Pennsylvania, not too often and they are a huge treat in themselves but to see them in this fashion with the wildlife pointing them out to me after I imagine I serenaded him for a while with my guitar playing. We both sat there looking off into the sky and enjoyed the lightshow for at least 30 minutes before he set wing and took off for good.
I too, then went in my tent and went to bed with a real content and tingling feeling going through me from what had just happened.

Oftentimes when I am out there alone, I come across animals that don’t seem to have much fear of me as I have no ill intentions towards them and am not a hunter. ( I once had a cow moose follow me for a good 45 minutes)

But this was a bit different. Almost as if he was a wise old being and wanted to share one of nature’s wonders with another.
I believe I took the picture (above) in the morning to remember the spot by. Not that I needed to remember what happened. somewhere on the cdt