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Poking the Bear - Travels Near & Far
Koppenhaver's Selected Travel Journal Entries
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Poking the Bear


While alone along a ridge trail on a Maryland mountaintop back in the 80’s, a violent storm began brewing all around me.  Surrounded by large swaying trees and ever-increasing roars of thunder, there came that point where a switch flipped in my head.  With virtually no thought, I was turned and heading back toward safety as quickly as my boots would carry me.  I stayed focused on my pace, ignoring blisters, aches and other distractions and made a beeline for my truck several miles away.  It was a race against the storm.

Thirty years later, a few miles from safety, I was again on a trail wending through large swaying trees and increasing roars of thunder.  I continued onward, not yet ready to retreat, hopeful the odds were in my favor.  The temptation of making it around just one more bend drove me deeper.  But then, as in the early 80’s in Maryland, that ominous feeling took over.  A full sensory warning - the woods darkened, the wind howled louder, rain smells grew pungent and the temperature plummeted.  The decision to retreat no longer was a logical process involving odds; it was simply instinctual.  Before I knew it, I’d spun and was heading full speed back from where I came.  Another race against a storm.

Frankly, in both cases, a little better planning would have made me more cautious about heading into the woods on those two days.  But then I would have missed out on a few quite memorable run-for-your-life moments. 

Every now and then it’s invigorating to poke a bear or tug on Superman’s cape.
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