Call of the Wild - by Rob Klopp

Posted by Chad Johnson on

                                                                                Call of the Wild 

                There is an axiom that has held a particular importance to me since perhaps the sixth or seventh grade.  It is not a completely unknown law to be sure, and honestly the only reason I hold it dear to myself is that I drew a parody to the entire concept as a school project. The concept I speak of is Newton’s law, that for every action there  is an equal and or opposite reaction.  I am of course paraphrasing the law, but the end result, to my warped mind saw such instances as a cartoon character pinching a girl’s butt in one frame of a cartoon, and getting slapped in the face in the next. Yes, I actually turned in such sketches for project grades, and  also received top grades for such actions. (Therefore I blame my early education for my warped sensibilities! Heh heh heh )  At any rate, this is a premise that I learned all too well in the early stages of my mountain man experience.

                My day started normal enough- and that is to say it was about the oddest experience that anybody who is not me could possibly accept. I had bought a solar shower set up in order to alleviate the need to visit my gym on a daily basis… (let’s face it here-if any of you have really ever belonged to a gym, there is an excess of entirely too many naked old men walking around in the men’s room to be comfortable with) and as such, I was enjoying a very comfortable shower in the middle of nowhere at the back of my beloved beat up Ford. (That hurts me just to say) At any rate there I was, as naked as we all were at birth, with nothing to cover me but the unforgiving suds that were there for cleanliness sake alone, when a truck ambled its way up the trail leading to my camp. Mildly curious, I peeked my head around the back of my Explorer and the upraised tailgate, and spotted two ladies driving up in a beat up but serviceable government pickup truck.  I was still in a controlled open space camp area, so I paid the intrusion little mind as they moved their way into my camp. After all, it wasn’t hard to see that there was a camper in the middle of a shower at the back of the vehicle they were fast approaching, so in my mind, I kinda figured that they would assess the situation and act accordingly. Yeah.. not so much.

                Scout’s honor here, I swear to you that this is the truth. The older and obviously senior of the two ladies stepped out of the truck to approach me as the younger sat in the cab laughing hysterically. Now mind you, I am not exactly what one would call an exhibitionist at all, but in this instance I got the very distinct insight that these two knew exactly what was going on and had no intention of backing down at all. 

Well hell… if that was how it was going to be, then I have little to no shame and therefore I opted to rise to the occasion (no pun intended or enacted) and met her dead on. Yeah… not really sure who won that battle, but I stood there as naked as a jay bird and spoke to that Ranger for a good half an hour at least (well… according to the alarm bells blowing up in my uncompromising mind) as she told me about the bike race that would be closing the roads heading down from my position in the hills and extending to the Boulder area. Yeah… I was not at all at oblivious to the laughter of the younger of the two ladies, still safely ensconced within the intruding government truck, but at this point it was just a battle of wills. Every fiber of my being just wanted them to go away so that I could just forget this whole debacle… but nope. Apparently I had earned entirely too many opposite reactions over the course of my life… so I endured one of the most embarrassing moments of my life.

Yeah… so this all being said, I wouldn’t change a thing even if I was paid! Because after that moment… well, let’s just say that I had the most profound “come to God” moment of my life…

So … after that uber exposed period of my life, I made my way down the hills to my job.  I will admit to you here that it was an odd night of work, though nothing to pay particular attention to.  At this point,  I was working as a server/bartender at a major restaurant chain, so strangeness was no real deviance from the norm.  But I WILL admit… I felt a particular pull to my best friend at the time… and that was Mr. Jack Daniels.  Yeah… I’ll admit now that the elixir of the Daniel’s family can cause moments of.. um.. let’s say unclarity. Well dammit.. I felt a need this night.

So there I was.. on this most auspicious of nights, though I had no inkling that it was destined to be so… and let’s just say that I got snarfed. What is snarfed?  Well that is a good question. Let us just from here on out phrase it as a state of mind that places a perfectly normal human being in the state of mind to prance around the woods naked and chase bigfoots. Not saying I was quite there, mind you.. ok.. yes I was… but at any rate, I heard the call that would forever change my life.

In the distance.. up the hill to the north east, I distinctly heard the yelps and yowls of a pack of coyotes echoing down over the hills above me. I won’t lie to you here… it was the most beautiful thing I had ever heard before. I had spent many a night in the wilds with my parents ... had pretty much embraced the ways of nature as a glorious upbringing thanks to my family and the AMAZING experiences with creatures of the wild that God and my life had given me so far.  I was enthralled into the moment, and for better or for worse, my inner soul bade me to call out in kind to my wild brethren!

…Or perhaps that was the Jack Daniels…

I remember this moment with absolute clarity.  As snarfed as I was, I remember waking up some two odd hours later to the sound of movement just outside of my camp. Now as a man, I was inclined to the natural Grrr that God has gifted us with, and as such, I grasped the closest weapon that I had on hand at the time… a rusted hatchet. I unzipped the tent and looked out upon the scene that is forever burned into my mind.

There before me were eight of the most ferocious coyotes my fear paralyzed mid could have ever conjured. Yeah, I know.. for you die hard bad a**es out there, coyotes are really not much of a danger. But for a clown in a tent with nothing but a hatchet and a busted sword/fire poker to protect himself with… well, let’s just say the odds were not in my favor.

But you know the beautiful thing?  They cared not a whit about me and my pathetic defenses.  I can clearly remember staring from my not so impregnable  defensive tent wall, and looking into the eyes of what I wish to assume were those of the pack leader’s, and seeing… indifference. To be sure.. this one stared back into my eyes, and at that particular moment, I knew that I was at his mercy. But I could clearly see that he didn’t care even in the slightest.  I was clearly a speck in his eyes… he and his pack owned this night, and I was at his mercy.

I have never been more afraid, and yet thrilled at the same time.. and this from a flesh slab that had seen speeds of close to 200mph on a crotch rocket!  Never before had I been rendered so insignificant in the eyes of another creature, and accepted it so completely. Ask anybody who knows me… I have smeared myself all over the place with little more than a sardonic giggle at the crashes of our man made machinery… but I have never felt more put in my place than at that moment.

Obviously, the pack eventually moved on without a care for my snarfed self… otherwise I would never be here to tell the tale. But at that moment, my life changed forever.  Yes, I got smarter..(smartish??)  and quit drinking while in the wilds. And yes, I armed myself through the generosity of one of my greatest friends.  But to this day, I never lost the fascination that drove me to track this pack of scavenger/predators for the next month and a half.

 To this day, I still heed the call of any coyotes I may hear, and recognize their place and my own in this great world of ours…

(to be continued…)

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