Cougar, Bears, Bobcats & Trust! What the Wilderness taught me about myself and the Universe.

Life always gives you what you need when you need it and this lesson in trust was exactly what I needed, and no surprise when I needed it!

Last summer I had a desire to spend some time in nature with my dog. It’s like I was being drawn to the woods. I listened to this calling and took a week off from work, not really sure what I was going to do. I reached out to family to see if they had some suggestions on places where I could go, my uncle had a cabin that he said I could use. Perfect, I thought! I had never been to their cabin but things were falling in place so I trusted that this was where I should be! I took the leap of faith, packed up the car and the dog and off I went to my uncles’ cabin in the woods.

When I got there it was gorgeous, it was in the woods on a lake … it was perfect! What I didn’t realize is that it was in a small community of cabins that were pretty much abandoned during the week. Which meant I was going to be pretty much alone out there. At first, this did not bother me, I had at this point in my life become very accustomed and comfortable with being alone.

My uncle showed me around the cabin, which was built on a hill, the main part of the cabin was on the top of the hill and there was a steep staircase outside down to a basement/spare bedroom which was built into the hill. The basement/spare room was rustic, (like you could see the tree roots and tree trunks) in parts of the basement. Usually, this part of the cabin was locked with a padlock, as the only entrance to it was from the outside. My uncle showed it to me despite me objecting, as I didn’t think I would really need it, thank goodness he did, as you will see in a minute. During the walkthrough my Uncle also shared with me that they have cougars in the area he had seen tracks right outside the cabin at different times throughout the year, and that there was a grizzly bear that other residents stated lived just across the field, and that they had witnessed black bears in the area, oh and maybe some bobcats too! I am not that outdoorsy and more than anything I was concerned about my dog, who at this point was losing her mind because on top of all the dangerous animals there were squirrels and my dog loves to chase things, especially small rodents.

After getting all settled in, I decided to take my dog for a walk. We ventured out with some apprehension as I had never been there and to be honest my dog is my baby, so I was concerned for her safety (as I often am). We took a walk and found a path to walk for a bit. It was nice, I soaked in nature. Feeling more grounded and mostly calm, because on my walk I had realized this was the first time since Woody passed away that I had been on a trip completely on my own. I had travelled on my own but always had people to meet up with or conferences to attend, this time I was completely ALONE! This thought was exciting but as with anything outside of our comfort zone was also uncomfortable and so I was also feeling a bit anxious.

We (my dog and I) spent the rest of the day enjoying the lake and the woods… then returned to the cabin at night time.

It was a bit nerve-wracking being there with Bramble in the dark as she was on high alert for squirrels and I was definitely on alert for any potential risks. Not that it felt overwhelming but just on alert!

I went to bed in the QUIET absolute silence, which was nice but also made it obvious how very alone I was!

About 2:00 am I was awoken by my dog. Once I got my bearing from being startled awake, she let me know she needed to go outside. I turned the outside lights on (giving the wildlife fair warning to disperse, at least that was my thoughts and left them on for a minute before we ventured outside). Bramble was of course on a leash because as mentioned she loves to chase things and I didn’t want her running off chasing a squirrel in the dark. We walked out the sliding door and as there were now moths and mosquitos swarming the lights, I turned to slide close the door behind me. Didn’t even have a second thought about it, it was a sliding door with a latch lock, no worries, right?!?!

Bramble walked around outside well truth be told she hunted around, turns out she just wanted out to hunt squirrels! I pulled her back on her long leash and we turned to open the sliding door… it didn’t open! It was locked! OMG!!!! Sliding doors don’t lock, I thought so I pulled a little harder feeling more frantic and the anxiety rising!

It didn’t open! OMG!!!OMG!!! OMG!!! I was alone in my PJ shorts in the middle of the isolated wilderness with bears and cougars and god knows what else lurking in the shadows, not to mention being eaten alive by mosquitos and I was ALONE! Absolutely, ALONE!

My car was locked, the cabin was now locked, and I didn’t even have shoes on! As I sat on the picnic table fear quickly turned into a complete state of panic! What was I going to do?

There were not a lot of options.

I took a couple of deep breaths put a couple of prayers out to the Universe and I’m sure swore a couple of times. Fear had completely settled in now and as our minds do, I went to some pretty dark places. I envisioned myself still on the picnic table hours later covered in welts from the mosquitos, I pictured a grizzly bear, and bobcat and cougar coming to check us out (oh the places our minds go) After what seemed like an eternity of running through devastating scenarios, my warrior instinct kicked in … I was familiar with this part of myself as it had come in useful in dealing with Woody’s passing. I mustered up my courage and calmed myself down so I could think. I started making plans on how we were going to make it through the night. No sooner than I summoned the warrior in me did I remember there was the basement and it was unlocked (thank goodness my uncle insisted on showing me this part of the cabin).

I went into the basement and looked around to see if there was anything, I could use to get me out of this situation. I could have just stayed in the basement, but it was dark and to a city girl like me a little creepy, who knows what creepy crawlers and rodents were hiding in the shadows. If need be, at the very least, I had somewhere to be until dawn! As I looked around feeling more inspiration and more trust in my abilities, I scoured the basement to see if there was something, I could use to open the door. I found a few random things screwdriver, a dragonfly metal ornament with a flat edge (I thought I could flip the latch) and a few other random items that could maybe push the latch up. I tried them one at a time…. Nope, nothing worked!

I kept looking around and then there it was … a LADDER … YAY!

I took the ladder outside after struggling to free it from its place hanging on the wall. I placed the ladder next to the only window that was unlocked (it had the air conditioner vent in it). The ladder just and I mean like JUST reached the window. Remember the cabin is built on a hill so the ladder was sitting on uneven ground, and in order to reach the window, I would have to stand on the top step, the one that clearly says do not stand on. I again mustered my strength and carefully climbed the shaky ladder and stood on the very top. There I was like 6 feet up, all the time being aware that there could be any number of wild animals watching me! Probably licking their teeth at the prospect of me breaking my neck on this shaky ladder.

After some struggle and a lot of persistence, I was able to push the hose for the air conditioner out of the window which left me a small opening to get through. This whole time I had Bramble locked in the basement, I could hear her at times trying to open the basement door to get to me or more likely squirrels.

After taking a deep breath I stretched my leg up and got it through the opening, still not totally sure I could get my whole body through this small window, but I had to try! I sat there straddling the window in the middle of the dark, quiet woods, trying to find my footing on the inside of the cabin, when my tippy toe found something that felt stable, I made the push to get in through the window.  Although I am sure not so gracefully, I made it through and stumbled into the cabin.

I almost cried with relief. I was so proud of myself! I didn’t give up; I had shown again I was stronger than I thought, and I had not given into the fear and anxiety that had plagued my mind just minutes earlier. I quickly went and unlocked the door and this time I left it open, as I went basement to get Bramble.

Needless to say, I didn’t really sleep well the rest of the night my adrenaline was pumping. During the rest of the night, I again reflected on how I am stronger than and I think, and it was at this time I realized I am completely good on my own… I can do it!

I also realized although I am good on my own, that I don’t want to be alone anymore either! this was really the first time since Woody passed that I actually wanted someone in my life, I didn’t NEED them but actually wanted to share a life with someone again. This was huge for me!

This experience also reaffirmed to me that the Universe really does have my back, it really does provide us with what we need, when we need it. I am not only talking about the ladder here but the challenge itself which provided me with the opportunity to recognize that I am safe and capable and stronger than give I myself credit for.

The next day, I tried, out of pure curiosity, to make the latch lock on itself again, I tried numerous times to recreate the scenario from the night before (I did have the keys this time) and could not replicate the door locking.

Later, I spoke to my family and they said that it had never happened, and they were stunned (as I was that night) that the door locked. They even tried to make it happen since and have never been able to replicate the latch locking.  I should also mention they were surprised that there was even a ladder out there, they didn’t know why it was there!

I truly believe it was the Universe providing me with a lesson I needed to learn and for that I am grateful!

I completed my wilderness escape the next day by going for a long hike to a waterfall and taking in nature in all its beauty. This renewed trust in my safety and trust in the Universe made this hike completely enjoyable. I was able to be present in the moment, enjoying nature. I was so trusting I even let Bramble off the lead, and she ran through the woods, loving the adventure.

This is not the first and I am sure not the last time I will be given challenges from the Universe that further prove to me I am safe, and strong and that the Universe really does have my back!

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