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Tiny Stalker

I survived my first weeks pulling solo duty as a winter caretaker for regional wilderness camps. I’m happy to report that, in such isolated settings, I have not been torn to pieces by wild animals. I am rotating through three beautiful mountain properties, and I am privileged to be able to work and write in such scenic locales.At the start of week two, I had my first encounter with wildlife: the barn cat, June Bug, was clearly stalking me. Long afternoon shadows were soon to give way to dusk on the forested grounds. The last of the sunlight on Grayback Peak to the south reminded me of the golden-orange alpine glow I often see on mountain summits when I start my trail hiking early mornings. Here she came, casting her own long, ominous shadow. Sure, to some she would appear cute and innocent, but a closer look revealed the face of a determined predator. If she wasn’t so diminutive, I’m sure I’d be dinner.I can’t say I dislike cats (OK, maybe a little bit), but typically I keep my distance. I am highly allergic to the little felines. They can smell my fear, and seem attracted to me like a magnet. I’d keep my eye on this one, so eager, when guests are at the ranch, to uncharacteristically share people food or their cabin pillows in the evenings.Morning and night at the ranch ó whether doing my rounds, cleaning cabins, or flinging hay and horse manure ó The Stalker followed me. Obviously, her goal is to drive me insane, kill me “somehow” (still devising a plan in her dark, little Cat Cave), and eat me one tiny cat bite at a time.Each week I’m back at this location, I will stay alert and document what I see. Should I not come off the mountain on time some week this winter, paw prints linked to foul play will be found everywhere in the snow at the ranch. Look for throw up and fur balls on my decaying body.T. Duren Jones spends time in the Colorado wilderness as often as possible. He has hiked hundreds of trails, completed the nearly 500 miles of the Colorado Trail, and has summited all 54 of Coloradoís 14,000-foot peaks. He loves the outdoors. He hates snakes.ìYour hopes, dreams and aspirations are legitimate. They are trying to take you airborne, above the clouds, above the storms, if you only let them.î ñ William James

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