Over halfway, hiking in Oregon has been great, but it hasn't been without challenges. Sometimes the trail greets you with magic, other times hardships. I have heard from a friend that "hardship builds character," so there's that.
A day into Oregon my reflexes and bravery were put to the test. I was walking with a German hiker known as Free Refill. We were covering all the usual topics as we walked - politics, history, science, culture, you know, the light conversations. At a point not far after a road crossing we found a note warning of a hornet nest, but we didn't see anything so we kept walking. Within a half mile of that spot a tree had fallen across the trail. Free Refill and I each started clambering around it. The moment my foot made it to the trail again as I stepped off the fallen tree, before I even raised my head from looking at my landing place some brown shape had buried its head in my chest.
I remember dropping my elbows down hard and stepping back to keep from falling. Next thing I know Free Refill and I both are pointing our trek poles at the beast, like spears, unsure of whether to attack or run. We should have run. Ilene were faced with a beast not unlike the fanged rabbit from Monty Python. It was a four foot tall female deer. Thank god it wasn't an antlered adult male. But the encounter wasn't over.
In an instant the deer was up on its hind legs and falling towards Free Refill. BAM! The deer smacks him in the face with its front hooves as it knocks him over and leaps over the logs we had hiked around moments ago.
I jump over Free Refill. "Stay down," I say, thinking he's hurt. I face off between the monster and my German compatriot as the deer lowers its head like a mad dog. Before we engage each other I feel fire on my legs. Turns out the log Free Refill fell next to, the one I was standing on, was a hornets' nest. Oops.
The fire I felt was the hornets stinging. "Stand up, Refill. Hornet nest." We both shuffled away, keeping an eye on the mad deer.
It seemed we were safe as we backed down the trail. The deer held its ground, head still lowered, eyes locked on us as we started walking briskly away.
"I wanna punch that deer," I said.
"I would do more than that," Refill replied jokingly. Neither of us could believe what had just happened. And that we came out far worse than the little deer. And we were thankful she wasn't a huge buck with antlers.
Just another day on the PCT.