I’ve had some brilliant partners in crime, but by far the best has been my high school best friend, Alexandra. First of all, we had the same name and a sweet rhyme to go along with it. Nothing could stop us, we executed pink sparkly ninja attacks and baccalaureate dinners alike with the flare and style belonging to no one else. However, on this night we met our match. And our match was a mountain lion.

Alex and I are adventurous spirits, and we got it in our mind that on this fine Friday night we wanted to go on a night hike. However, we wanted some company for general rapist defense, and we had an idea of where to get it. We knew from our friend Big Dog that he and a bunch of the bros were hanging out at a house having some sort of boy sports get together. Sounded stupid. We weren’t particularly friends with these bros, in fact there were several of them that I called by names I’d made up (Heyyy Kremlin), because I couldn’t remember their Indian names. But we had had some amiable encounters on the quad, plus her sorta boyfriend was in that crowd, and we were definitely friends with Big Dog. So we, being very confident girls, decided to round them up for our night hike.

Through some texting sleuthery we found out where they were and drove to the house. Because I had a sense of propriety about my ambushes, I opted to climb over the fence and surprise them from the backyard, while Alex more demurely waited out front. They were not very surprised by my sneaky snake tactics, however. More like, “Wtf are you doing here? Whatever. (Derderder I’m a boy.)”

Once I let my accomplice in through the front, we evaluated the situation from inside the boy lair (predecessor to the man cave). Fifteen bros, big TV playing sports, nerf guns, and pizza. This could be difficult.

Nonetheless, we are wily coyotes. You think the wife’s domination over her husband starts when they’re married? No, we women have been training at this art from a very young age. With some coaxing, cajoling, and manliness-shaming, we gradually got all fifteen boys to agree to a night hike. They expressed some fears about encountering a mountain lion, but we assured them they were just being lil pussies. We herded them out of the house and headed out in a six car caravan into the night. Alex and I felt quite accomplished.

Now our caravan was some clumsy, and driving through the hills we got a bit lost. Eventually we pulled into a dead end street where there was an empty lot, and for some reason, this was where we decided to start our hike. Alex and I crawled out of the car, ready to go, but through the general milling and unloading of all these boys, we spotted something strange. All the boys were going into their trunks and getting out… baseball bats and tennis rackets? Puzzled, I shouted across at one of them, “what the hell is that for?”

This question was answered by several outcries of “No mountain lion’s gonna eat me!”, “Ima fight them,”etc. etc., and ‘manly’ grunting noises slash general chest beating activities. Alex and I looked to each other and then gleefully laughed at them. “You guys are babies,” we informed them. “No mountain lion is going to attack a group of seventeen people.” But we let them have their rattles. Off we went into the darkness, hiking past the realtor’s sign into the hills, while the boys brandished their tennis rackets at the night.

Now I was hiking at the very front, because apparently I was the very bravest. Alex was a bit hung back with her sorta boyfriend, and the rest of the lot spread between us. Fairly soon we came to a fork in our… path is not the word for it, because we were certainly off-roading it, but well it was a fork in our path of least resistance. We could go up a hill to the left, or down a hill to the right. Pausing here, one of the boys asked me which way we should go. I jogged off to the left to see what lay beyond the top of the hill. Well, looking down from the top of the hill I saw eyes looking up right back at me. Lots of eyes. Eyes glowing quietly in the light of the moon, eyes belonging to a pack of coyotes. I imagined this wouldn’t go over so well with our expedition.

“Mm looks like nothing much, we’d best go the other way,” I quickly called back and scrambled down to intercept any other potential scouts. “Yep, to the right is better.”

They followed without question. To the right we tromped along happily for a fair while. But gradually the ground softened and then gave way to thick mud. It was darker here too. We were edging in among the trees, and ahead was the blackest yet. I wasn’t carrying a flashlight, but I still headed the pack. I stopped and felt a bit on edge. “Will you come up here and point your flashlight at the ground for me?” I asked one of the boys. I heard him picking his way through the mud behind me. I stared ahead, trying to make out anything with my eyes. The boys behind got closer. I took a tentative step, then one more. The light lit my feet, then

ROOOAAAARRRRRRRRRR

Holy shit. I turned around quick as lightning and sprinted through the mud, through the mass of boys behind me, leaving them in my dust (or mud spatters, more likely), though they were hardly far behind me. The roar rang in our ears and the our feet beat the ground like our hearts beat against our chests. We ran like a stampede, all seventeen of us, to get the fuck out of there. It was thoughtless, mindless, running. Out, out, out. Back, back, back. Nothing pursued us but our breathless gasps of the cold night air, and we finally slowed down to regroup.

I wasn’t crazy. “Did you all hear that?” we each asked each other. Most of us agreed it was a roar, one bro thought it might have been a horse.

I’ve never heard anything like it. A deep, ferocious, rumble like thunder, growling shout of a predator, warning. One we certain as fuck heeded. The night hike was over. The boys swung their bats and rackets, fending off our memories of the roar as we excitedly made it the rest of the way to our cars. I, personally, was unhappily preoccupied with contemplating whether any of them would have actually been able to fight the mountain lion if it had attacked me. Back to the comforting den of pizza and light, not mountain lions and darkness, we went. Alex and I were forced to make proper repentance, taking back all we had made fun of their fear of mountain lions and weapons of defense.

The next Monday I took a lot of shit at school for that night hike. Still, what an epic adventure. We didn’t have much desire for night hikes after that, but it was for sure the source of many amusing illustrations passed in class between me and Alex, depicting us and our motley crew facing down the mountain lion.

Ah, youth;)

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