It was my first time camping in the forest. I had suggested it to Catherine as a getaway from the city noise, half hoping that she would object to the idea. Instead, she was elated and said she thought it was a great idea. She said she had always wanted to experience living close to nature.
Catherine was born into one of this British royal descendant’s family, the type that instructs and guides their children on how to behave, how to look, speak and so on.
I first met her at a cocktail party the company I used to work for. The party was organized in honor of the company’s shareholders. Catherine had come to represent the interest of her family. She looked so stunning that day I could still picture her in my head after several months.
The second time was on a flight to Abu Dhabi, where I was going on an official visit to a branch of the company in the UAE. She was going there for a friend’s wedding, which she had invited me too. We started heating things from there.
The day after we discussed the camping thing, we went shopping for all we would need for the camping. A camp tent. A folding mattress. Clothes and wears. I even wanted to rent a mobile home, but Catherine would hear none of it.
“What is the experience in living in the forest if we sleep in a mobile home?” She asked.
“How are we going to cook our food? Bath? And excrete?” I had protested.
“We are going into the natural habitat, relax. If you want to enjoy nature, you will need to exploit it first.”
The way she kept mentioning nature and exploit, it was as if she had been planning and had had it on her mind for a very long time and she just needed someone to encourage her just for once, some to give her the push, so to say. I did. And here we are in my SUV heading towards Lakeside campground in Colorado.
“Did you know Lakeside has the most beautiful scenery in the morning when the sun rises from the mountain and shining over the wet mist hanging on the forest?”
She was studying the guidebook she had found online of the campground.
“And easy access to the wilderness and national park.”
I think she was enjoying the trip more than I, who had wanted to get away from the city life for just the weekend.
A few hours later, we got to the site. We had to pack our car in a safe place and walk the rest of the way to where we wanted to pitch our tent. It was a long walk I must say, with the bags slung on our backs. However, Catherine seems to be enjoying every step of the way.
We had picked the spot where we wanted to pitch our tent using the google map. We picked the spot because many other people camped in that area and we wanted to be as alone as possible. Additionally, it was a few walks to a stream flowing under some trees.
Using the compass, we traced our way to that spot we had chosen. I was so exhausted before we got to the spot. But Catherine was so energetic. She was showing no strain whatsoever after the long walk that I was tempted to ask her if she hadn’t slipped something in the mouth before we left home.
“What’s next?” She asked excitedly as we put our bags down.
“Sitting down for a while to catch our breaths will be a good line in action,” I said exhaustively.
“What do you think of this place?” She asked as she settled on the floor beside me, collecting the bottle of water I was drinking, taking a long drag as well.
“I think it’s as close to nature as we could get,” I answered, looking around as I did. There was this huge stone at the far side where we could take a lot of pictures. It was between our tent and the stream.
“I think we have chosen the best spot, right.”
“Yes, I think so too,” I said, still looking around.
All a sudden, a wildcat leaped from behind the rock unto it.
Catherine screamed. I had never seen a cat as huge as that before. It looked so fierce as it flashed its fangs at us. My blood went cold. I knew that wild animals could be around the area, but I never thought they could come this close to us.
I grabbed a stick on the ground, putting Catherine behind me. I braced myself, ready to swing the stick if the cat came too close, although I knew that I was no match for the animal- I was not Tarzan.
The wildcat jumped down from the rock, coming slowly at us. Meanwhile, Catherine was shivering and screaming for help. I was ready for the worse. Determination took over my fear. This animal isn’t coming close to my darling. I was ready to fight it to give Catherine a chance to escape.
As it started to run towards us, and I poised with the stick, I heard a gunshot. The animal fell dead.
I held tightly to Catherine until I felt a hand touch my shoulder. I turned around to face a man holding a barrel.
“You shouldn’t be in this part of the camp,” he said. “This is where we come to hunt for the main camp.” He pointed at the wildcat lying motionlessly on the ground.
“This is our first time here, sir. We just wanted a place where we could be alone. Nobody told us there were wild animals in the park,” Catherine said. She had gained her composure back.
“You must have missed the sign then. There is a post that read ‘Hunting Area’ at the northern side. And there are not much wild animals; just wild cats and a couple of snakes.”
I knew Catherine hated snakes. She told me we should leave the park immediately.
The man carried the cat and slung it on his shoulder.
“You should leave this place, there are a lot of really safe places in the campground where you can still be alone, and it is even prettier over there,” the man suggested.
We started packing the little we have thrown on the floor back into our bag.
“And you should join us tonight,” the man continued as he walked away. “We will be having a feast.”
“Eww,” Catherine said after the man had left. We returned home instead to a bottle of wine.