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Mountain Cat (Arizona)
The big sale at Summit
(a great store with great service) didn't have any kind of hiking boots
i wanted to see. I was hoping to see LaSportiva
boots (Glacier, Storm or Latok models). Also i wanted to find a killer deal on
gore-tex jackets (something i never could justify as "needing", but
they are just so cool). I think that Mountain
makes the coolest jackets. The only jewel i found, was not the kind
money could buy. She will remain a mystery, for i have tried and failed. "It
takes only a minute to get a crush on someone, an hour to like someone... but
it takes a lifetime to forget someone." ohhhhhh wait, this is supposed to
be a cat story.
I was the last person up the mountain...
which does happen on occasion. It was one of the "city mountains" --
one of the treasures of Phoenix. A mountain you hike for almost an hour in the
city (though Phoenix has a more "suburban" feel). It's probably within
half an hour of where you live, there is a trail to follow, and you probably don't
need a flashlight because the lights of the city or moonlight are enough. There
is Camelback Mountain and Squaw Peak -- the 2 most famous hiking spots. You'll
always find people there. There are other trails and little peaks to hike.. in
daylight or not.
Tonight I saw the usual crowd returning
from the mountain: the single guys with their noses high, a friendly older dude
with a dog, barbie girl with 3 guys, a couple that didn't seem to know each other
for that long, and a single girl here and there (some of whom i should have started
a conversation with). The sun was still up but falling quickly, and it turned
totally dark before i reached the summit. The moon was up, straight up in the
sky. While eating in a dry new T-shirt, and thinking "man, this is dry and
warm", i saw a silhouette run within 20ft from me. My first thought was that
it's a ringtail, but the tail was wrong for a ringtail. It looked like a cat's
body. After pulling out my headlight, I could see her clearly. It was a shy little
cat. Stray cat, short haired tubby, around 6months old. Maybe it was a coyote
scar she had, maybe it was just an illusion.
She liked the bagel, which i rolled for
her into balls of half M&M size. She totally ignored the water which i poured
for her. Wow, a cat up here. 1200ft above the city, at least a mile from civilization.
With the ease she moved, she could chase a ringtail anytime along the rocks. I
pulled out my camera, and 20 pictures went by in about 10minutes. If you ever
tried taking pictures of a moving animal in total darkness, you'll find out a
few things. The auto-focusing doesn't work that well, and you can't really focus
yourself. I used a flashlight in one hand while taking pictures with the other
hand. Before reaching for new film, i realized -- I don't have any. The nightmare
of photographers -- running out of film in the middle of action. Today was my
first day with a new backpack, and i did transfer my gear from the old backpack
It's one thing taking pictures, and another
capturing the mood, the character, the situation. Taking memorable pictures takes
patience, practice, vision and luck. Without food, the cat would have stayed 50ft
away. You can't move closer, she has to come to you. By having food, you're the
best friend ... until the food runs outs. This kitty looked around 6months old.
If people don't handle a cat within her first 6 weeks, no-one will ever be able
to touch her. That seemed to be the case here -- she was a wild cat.
The last jewel i found was on Aug 13, 2001.