Earlier today I had a conversation with Ally Bean, via the comments section of her blog post on The Spectacled Bean, about an encounter between some cows and a turtle. Spoiler Alert – the turtle was a total badass.
This inspired me to share a story of my own which involves a herd of cows while I was hiking the Bruce Trail in 2013 with my good friend, Helen. For the tiny handful of people who followed my original blog, this story will look very familiar. The incident happened when we had completed approximately 80% of this 900 km trek.
I should mention that on this particular day we were about half way through a 21km hike on a hot day through terrain that looked mostly like this:
and this …
I had stopped worrying that it was going to eventually happen …. and then it did.
We got lost.
First, let me say that getting lost was the single biggest concern I had (not counting snakes) in undertaking this adventure to hike the entire Bruce Trail. The thought of being lost strikes terror in my heart.
Helen and I have ‘agreed to disagree’ on what constitutes ‘being lost’. To me, being lost means you aren’t where you are supposed to be, and you don’t really know where you are.
Just because there is a road ‘close by’, it doesn’t mean it is going to be easy to get to that road, that you will know confidently what road it is, or which direction you should now take. We were lost.
After several hours of plodding through a particularly difficult section of rocky forest, we approached a stile leading into a farmer’s pasture with a sign that warned there might be a bull in the field and to use caution.
We decided to move forward anyway … mistake #1.
Upon crossing the stile into the field, we realized there wasn’t a trail blaze in sight, so we decided to proceed anyway and follow what appeared to be “the path” … mistake #2.
After following this path for some time and still not seeing a trail blaze, we continued ahead in the belief it would eventually take us to where we wanted to be … mistake #3.
Then I noticed that things were about to get much worse. Behind us was a herd of cows stampeding excitedly in our direction. I’m not sure, but I think my heart might have stopped for a moment at this point.
I resisted the urge to break out into a sprint (apparently running is not a good idea since it excites cows even more), and I scurried as quickly as I could to the nearest fence with Helen shouting behind me ‘they’re only cows’.
To my horror, when we got to the fence, we discovered that it was an electric fence – quite common on farms in this area.
At this point, I should note that people have different thresholds for stress. I admit that my stress bucket tends to be rather small and, at that point, it was overflowing.
If not being able to find a trail blaze had been agitating me earlier, being sandwiched between cows thundering towards us, and an electric fence, now threw me into a full-blown anxiety attack.
In my mind, I had to make a choice between a close encounter with many very large excited animals, or the electric fence. I chose the fence.
To my extreme relief, it was not electrified and a rather calm, and somewhat amused, Helen followed me.
I mentally apologized to the people whose property we had to trespass to get the nearby road (by the way, their pool area was stunning!).
On the road, we then had to figure out where we had likely ended up and which direction to go in. It took a while, but I eventually stopped hyperventilating and could find humour in the mishap.
I took a lot of ribbing over this incident by people who insisted that cows are not dangerous. I beg to differ.
I had visions of being trampled by a dozen, 1,500lb moo-sters who were clearly highly excited, and don’t have a reputation for being particularly smart. If you don’t believe me about the intelligence part, I refer you back to the video in Ally’s post.
So, what choice would you have made?