The only sound in the forest was the crunch of leaves underfoot. That silence told me something that my mother had taught me as a child. When the birds stop their singing and the squirrels cease their chatter, there is a reason.
As I reached the edge of a sharp-edged boulder, I stopped and listened for a moment. Getting between a mother bear and her cubs was a bad idea, I reminded myself. I listened for the noisy crunch and possible growling of bears,but nothing caught my attention..
Though it was nearing dusk, the sun peeked though the clouds for a moment and I expected to hear the forest fill up with sound again. Nothing.
It was November 1st, “Los Dias de los Muertes” I thought, half smiling. I began to let my mind wander. I had always heard that an ancient battle between Native Americans took place near this rock. In fact, it was know as “Broken Skull Rock.” I assumed that the name referred more to the shape of the jagged rock, split into two sharp pieces, than it did to an actual event. But no one seemed to know for sure.
The sun disappeared behind the mountain, and soon the darkness began to creep in. I felt a spider web hit my face as I quickened my step to get back to the clearing where I’d parked. An owl let out its call, and a shiver went up my spine.
A wisp of smoke appeared from the chimney of an old cabin across a steep ravine. I froze in my footsteps as I hear the creaking of a door and saw a glint of light coming through in the shadows.
“Hello?” I called, hoping to warn the cabins’ inhabitant of my presence. I got no answer. I could see the glint of a candle though the window, as the light faded. My heart began to race.. No one was supposed to have lived here for years.
The owls call rang out again. I heard the door creek shut again. A sliver of moonlight appeared through newly barren trees. I looked back across the ravine and found myself lying on my belly, having tripped over a root. My ankle throbbing, my head pounding,, I saw my car a hundred yards ahead.
From now on, I would take my hikes in the park on “Los Dias de los Muertes!”