Just when you think you’re going to be able to settle down after a tough stretch and enjoy yourself…
…something always seems to come up.
You can’t just sit back, though. Sometimes you have to fight for what’s yours.
Whether it’s dinner or life itself. You can’t just accept what happens.
Then you have to know when to quit! Something I’m not any better at than this fox.
And special thanks to the Montana hunter who took these shots with his cell phone. Dang nice work. Bet it was an iPhone.
Today I am going to tell you the story of MY encounter with a golden eagle.
I was new to The Valley, as it’s known among the locals, but I wasn’t really a local yet. I’d come there a short few months before and I was learning new things everyday. Like riding ATV’s. Loved them! They went places a dirt bike could only dream of going. If you wanted to carry cold beer, and I did.
I went out every chance I could and this one sunny day Kevin took me and a pair of exuberant 14 yr olds, Emily and her cousin, out for a ride.
We were WAY up there, on a shelf of the mountain. Kevin and I had brought along an impromptu picnic, consisting of Slim Jims, BBQ Fritos, Pepsi and 6 pack of cold beer. I opted for the beer. Naturally, after drinking the beer, I had to go take a whiz.
Well, it just so happened that we had stopped on the lee side of a cut bank looking down into a beautiful forested valley. Pristine. But steep. No where to go pee in private.
The other side, when I climbed up the bank, was STUNNING! Really. It was the prettiest thing I’d ever seen. An old clear cut from 100 years ago had turned into a meadow of wildflowers and tall green grass. It swept down to a drop off leaving a view of the Columbia River and the entire Purcell Range that enclosed The Valley to the west. And best of all? There was an old fallen tree. It had been blown over and was lying there just waiting for me. Perfect. It’s hard to find that perfect spot to pee. Believe me.
It had only been a week or so since I had been chased out of a bush while not enjoying a pee. I was still nervous back then. To me the Rocky Mtns were inhabited by man eating bears and starving desperate cougars and wolves and…and..you name it! It was going to get me if I wasn’t careful. So I was hyper vigilant. That explains why, when I heard a loud rustling noise right behind me, I panicked. I hit the ground running, with my pants around my ankles practically, thinking (and, unfortunately, shouting) there’s a bear in there. The guys were startled as hell and there was a scramble for bear spray and getting the wives and girlfriends on the machines, and some spreading out and soft talking and swearing by Al that he wouldn’t come out without the danged side arm again. This was the last time Donna, gosh darned it. So everyone was preparing to evacuate that particular area post haste, when out of the bush strolled a grouse. One bitty little grouse.
Gosh darned it.
It was ALL over the valley by the end of the week. Everyone thought it was the funniest thing they’d ever heard and when I heard Al and Donna tell it in company, I cracked up too. Dang it all.
But still it made me wary.
Now, I wasn’t exactly an amateur when it came to peeing outside. I was pretty handy at it. Fast and neat. I even had tp. But who likes crouching, right? Here was this wonderful tree to lean against and the VIEW was to die for and, best of all? No WAY anything could sneak up on me. A 100% 360′ view all around me for 100 yards. And nice and private. I could hear them talking and laughing down on the road behind me. I was by myself. Perfect. I was going to have the best pee EVER!
So I dropped my drawers and leaned against the tree next to the upended root ball. It was all old and dry and spikey but it was bigger at that end. I wouldn’t have to crouch down too much.
I begin. I hear a sound. It sounds like steam. Steam? hmmm…I look down. No steam. It’s not me making that noise. It’s getting louder. I’m getting concerned, where the hell was that noise coming from? It was a hissing now. Not like a snake hiss. I mean LOUD.
I glance over to my right and theres the BIGGEST FUCKIN EAGLE I’VE EVER SEEN. HISSING AT ME! Sitting on the root boll and the beak was about a foot from my gaping face! A GIANT yellow and pink POINTY gaping MAW! I wasn’t imagining that shit THIS time. Caveman brain took over.
I ran. Of course I ran. Unfortunately I didn’t pull up my pants so I didn’t get far. I tipped over immediately. Then I began an army crawl that would have made any drill sergeant proud. I think at some point I managed to pull my pants up but, between waving a streamer of toilet paper at the eagle, trying to recover some breathe to actually scream my lungs out, the undies were a problem…jeez. I peed on my pants. NOW wait. I didn’t PEE my pants. I peed ON my pants. There’s a big difference.
I rolled over and looked and that golden eagle was just taking off. It must have been sitting there the whole time I was planning my pee. Didn’t move. And it didn’t move while I fell over. Or when I crawled away whimpering with my toilet paper. It had been just sitting there watching my humiliation. You know they aren’t like bald eagles. That white head and all. You can SEE those suckers. Golden eagles are the exact same color as an old fallen tree root boll. Take my word for it.
And it gave me a look. It really did. It looked disdainful. I know all eagles look sort of disdainful but this one? He meant it. He swooped down the meadow and made a slow sweeping turn to come back and give me another look. He really did. He flew right over my head, about 6 feet up. We looked at each, other eye to eye, and he had written me off. I was beneath his notice. I didn’t count. I could have been dinner but I peed on myself and that’s just gross. I felt small.
Jerk. Eagles are jerks.
Then I heard my fellow travelers ‘Oooh look! Look at the eagle! LAURA. did you see the eagle?!’
Yeah. I saw it.
But no one heard that story for years.