I’m not one to scare easy; in fact I enjoy a good scare. As a teenager horror movies were the only type of cinema worth my hard earn cash, everything from The Blair Witch Project to The Ring, I was the first in line for the fright fest. Now that I am a bit older I choose movies with, I guess one would say a bit more substance, but who knows really. Even though I’m not rushing to see The Saw movies and may have lost my childhood obsession with horror films, I never believed this had any effect on me being able to not fear what most do. I have been proud of being fearless, and would air my arrogance by rolling my eyes with irritation, when my sister would yank on my arm during a suspenseful movie. I have gloated about being able to contain myself and endure the strange and unusual for years that were until recently, where I think my surge of confidence lead me to a humbling experience.
My mother always said don’t let your head get too big, because once it swells, there’s something waiting around the corner to bring you to your knees. How true this was for me Sunday night. Before I get to the nitty-gritty part, I first have to explain what I was doing and where I was going. A friend of mine decided to take me to some hot springs once he found out that I have never seen or been to one before. We packed up our bags with a few snacks, jumped in the car and made our way to the trail head. Once we pulled up to our destination, I could see fall leaves everywhere. We got out of the truck and I could fill the plump ground stacked with colorful leaves.
As we started towards the hot springs, it took us awhile to gain some distance on the trail. I had my digital camera and just couldn’t stop taking pictures; snap here and snap there. Even though the only critics to review my professional digital shots would be my FB friends, I wanted them to be good, or at least reflect somewhat of the beautiful fall landscape I was experiencing. So after stopping and starting, clicking and snapping, we reach the hot springs. Before I could even see the downward step-like structure of pools, a strange smell became apparent in the air. After climbing the last steep hill, I look down to see clouds of steam rise from the still, pools of water like a ghost from a grave. The landscape seemed to be the perfect image of fall.
My friend teased me as he explained that traditionally, hot springs are for skinny dipping, he continued on with a smile and mentioned that, "We’ll probably find most people decided to leave their swimsuits back at home". With this thought in mind, I shifted concentration from the sparkling pools and the falling leaves, and I started to glitch thinking that people below me were naked. It’s not that I wanted to look, but there were people everywhere. My head began to turn like a scene pulled from exorcist; back-and-fourth, side-to-side. I kept thinking, “Are they? No...Mmm, Maybe?” I then leaned over to him and whispered with a smirk, “I think those people are naked in that one.” He began to chuckle and leaned in to reply with a whisper as well, “Charice, I was joking, it is illegal to skinny dip in Utah and there is a Ranger right over there.” Feeling like a right-out fool, I shot him a look hotter than the springs.
We finally found a steaming hot pool with colorful leaves floating slowly over the waters. I stepped in and settled against a rock. Evening was starting to approach, as I sat in the water the light of dusk caught my eye and I directed my body to fully absorb what was left of the day’s sun. The view was one of few that I will never forget. We began to notice that everyone else that was here before us had left. We knew it would soon be dark and decided to start back down.
The hike back down was quiet. Lying in the hot waters relaxed our bodies; the view, I believe, quited our minds. It wasn’t until it was fully dark, that thoughts began to return. Thankfully, we had our headlamps. My headlamp is wrapped around my backpack strap and sits on the front of my shoulder, so when I look back, I can easily see the darkness that follows me. I kept looking back, not sure really what I was looking for, “The boogey man perhaps?” I laughed to myself. I knew that nothing about the dark scares me, it never has, but for some reason I just kept looking behind my back. I grew tired of the silence and proposed we tell ghost stories on our way back down; we had the perfect setting for it.
My friend mentioned that he hated scary things, so my reply was, “I hate lies,” referring to his skinny dipping joke earlier. We both laughed and then I began my story. Fittingly, I told a ghost tale that took place in the woods. Toward the end of the story, I noticed that his head went from looking down at his steps to looking directly forward, and I think once behind him. I thought to myself, “Is the story really scaring him?” I tried to refrain myself, but slowly a little grin began to form on my face. I concluded the tale and we fell back into silence. I could tell we only had a little more to go before we reached the end, just as I was thinking how tired I was, I heard a rustle in the bushes. We both came to a stop and began to fling our heads around to locate the noise. We waited for a moment to see if we would hear the sound again, when nothing happened, we picked up our steps and continued on. Just then the strangest, loudest noise I have ever heard shot from the trees. I screamed as high and loud as humanly possible and without a moment of hesitation took off full-speed. If it hadn’t been dark, I think you could see that my feet were moving too fast to touch the ground.
After I covered some distance from where I had heard the noise, I realized that I had left my friend behind me and I stopped and yelled back for him. I could hear him laughing and jogging to come meet me. As he approached, I was able to calm down and gather my thoughts. Then it came to me, I knew the noise. The strange, foreign sound was a noise any 6 year old could name: a cow. I had forgotten there were cows on this trail. Once again, I felt like a fool. My friend was cracking up and only thing I could think about was karma. Not much scares me and certainly, not a farm animal! In fact, I was the one who was trying to scare him, and to think I almost ran all the way to the car because of a loud moooo!
We hopped back into the car, exhausted from the day we let the radio drive out the silence. Once in a while we would chuckle about the incident and then direct our attention back to the music. My friend pulled up to my house and I jumped out of the car. As I gathered my stuff from the back of the truck, he smirked at me saying, “Allright, Ms.Tough stuff, watch out for those cows, they’re nasty little devils, really.” I’m no Johnny Carson, but I can whip out a quick quip if I need to, however this time I just laughed and shut the door. During the quiet drive, I thought more about the humbling scare. I might have been scared and a little bit embarrassed, I admit it, but then, I thought one thing I wouldn’t have been was dead, right? I took off as if it was the 100-meter dash. I was gone like the wind. There would have been no way anything could have grabbed me at that speed. So, maybe fear isn’t such a bad thing after all.