The trail in Washington yesterday reminded me of a mid-morning of memories that will stay with me longer than most. It was the Alpine Wilderness, in the Klamath National Forest of Northern California.
The Pacific Crest Trail cast along a wending, near horizontal path through a rough and steep scree slope.
I came around a bend, and saw grazing, at a rare tuft of verdant scruff, a young buck – a black-tail deer. His nascent antlers downy.
I said aloud “You’re beautiful,” surprised at the sound of my own voice, which I hadn’t heard in at least a day. Pausing in admiration I rested on my trekking poles, and considered our situation.
It was at least a quarter mile south to a spot where the deer or I might safely step off trail. And I knew, the chance the deer would follow me south to do so, was slim.
Certainly the deer wouldn’t brush shoulders with me while I passed. I had no idea what to expect from the trail ahead. And either of us breaking a leg to go around was my utmost concern.
So after a while I stepped forward and paused, and then again … and it seemed like Buck got the idea, and he turned from me to meander up trail.
I followed. Neither of us rushed. For almost a mile we hiked together as such, he always 60 feet ahead, every now and then glancing back to be sure I hadn’t broken our agreement.
He bounded from the trail where we came over a saddle, but as I came up he still stood, facing me from a mossy clearing 20 feet away.
He leaned forward and tapped a front hoof and shook his head at me when I paused again, like he was hooking into a scrum.
I nodded, and continued my journey, leaving him to his.
Jason Evans on The Pacific Crest Trail