Sunday, May 6, 2012

Thar Be Trolls in Them Thar Woods...

I haven't been talking about the trolls as much as I should.

No, I am not talking about people who make inappropriate comments on the internet.

I am talking about the large angry beings that live in caves, or deep in the woods, and generally hate us and maybe want to eat us.

They do too exist.

Let me start at the beginning...

Boyfriend and I decided to go for a little walk in the woods.  Being in Colorado, this means that we were going for a 2,500 vertical foot, 6 mile one way climb up.

...just a relaxing walk in the woods...


"Where should we hike?" I asked boyfriend, "The Park, maybe?"

"Hmm," he replied, "It says here that there is a lot of ice on the road up to Bear Lake because of the storm last night."

"Yuck," I said, "Maybe not."  I hate driving on good days, going up a narrow, curvy, slick road with big drop-offs was not my idea of fun.

We were quiet for a minute.

"What about..." I said, "Signal Mountain?  I haven't been up there in years."

Signal Mountain is at the end of a dirt road that turns off a county road on the highway that heads into the mountains.  It is only about 45 minutes from my house, and rarely has anyone on it.  In the summer, the switchbacks up the west-facing hill are brutal, and it climbs something like 1000 feet in the first mile.  This time of year, it should be pretty nice.

Once you get to the top of the ridge, it's a much gentler "up", and has nice views of the Divide to the west.

We packed up our backpacks and headed out.

It was a fantastically beautiful day out.  The chill in the air was just enough to keep us from overheating.
I was feeling pretty strong, and we made it up the steep part in a relatively short amount of time. The breezes kept it from being too hot.  It still got cold enough at night that the trees hadn't budded out and the grass was still dead from winter, but it had a stark beauty anyway.

I believe this is a misprint.  It should be "Bullwark's Ridge" because the troll's name is Bullwark, and this is his ridge.  Obviously.
The open meadows gave way to lodgepole forest, and we came to a fork in the trail.  Signal Mountain, that-a-way.

"I always think this part of the trial is weird," I said.

Boyfriend, "Huh?"

Me: "It's so quiet.  When M. and I climbed up here we got totally creeped out."

He didn't answer.

I know, let's go for a walk in the scary woods.
We were quiet for a while, and walked a bit farther.

Our footsteps were muffled in the deep pine needles as we went, when I heard a strange noise.

It was the sound of something... big.

I froze, and looked back at Boyfriend.  "Did you hear...?" he started to say, when something made a deep groaning noise.

"What the fuck was that?" I said.

"I don't know," he replied.

"Was it a bear?"

We both fell silent.


"PROBABLY NOT A BAD IDEA," said Boyfriend.

"What should we do?" I asked.

We looked at eachother helplessly.

"If it can smell fear, I totally reek right now, I just started sweating like a pig."

Boyfriend snickered.

We stood quiet for another moment, and then started up the trail.

Immediately, there was another thick noise from the woods.

"Shit," I said.  "What is that?"

It feels like there are eyes everywhere, watching you.  Maybe the forest was awake. Or maybe there are trolls.

I scanned the trees, my heart racing.  They were too dense to see more than a few hundred feet. There could be anything out there.

We looked at each other and turned around and headed home.

There are other places to hike.

"Do you think it was trolls?" I asked.***


I fell silent.  For about a minute.

"It's really quiet," I said, "I'll bet the other animals are afraid of the trolls."

"Is there a such a thing as wood trolls?" I asked.

"I don't know," he said, "I am not up on my troll lore."

"That probably pisses off the trolls, don't you think?"

I glanced behind me.

"STOP DOING THAT!" he said.

"I feel like something is looking at me, you know?  Like eyes on me."

Boyfriend gave me an exasperated sigh.

Obvious evidence of troll activity.  Trees knocked down and strewn about.  No, it wasn't the wind.  It was trolls.

"Check it out," I said, "Evidence."

Boyfriend looked at me.

"OBVIOUSLY, the troll got pissed and knocked down some trees."

Boyfriend didn't respond.

A spectacular view through burnt trees.

"Maybe we should get some bear spray," I said.

"Do you think that would help?"

"You're right, a troll would probably think it was seasoning, but it would make me feel braver if it was a bear."

"You know," he said, "It was probably just an elk or something.  Remember when we climbed Ypsilon?"

"Huh," I said.

We saw a grouse.  No, it totally wasn't a mountain chicken that scared us.
"I wonder if it was a chicken of the woods," I said later.


"Check it out.  A grouse!"

Boyfriend said, "Never speak of this."

"Don't worry," I said, "I'll tell everyone that I hurt my knee or something."

"You're planning on blogging about this, aren't you," he said.  It wasn't a question.

"It's why we hike," I replied, "So I have something to blog about."

So in the spirit of truthiness, I have to say... ahem...

"I hurt my knee while hiking, so we cut it short."

The End.

***Reason #45 why dating me is hard: I have an over active imagination and I share it.  Sorry.


Keith said...

It must have been a troll. You wouldn't have heard a big cat at all. Even bears are pretty darn quiet if they're just padding from place to place. The elk or big deer are having a nap at that time of day. Good thing it was daylight.

Anonymous said...

A subtle troll is a diamond dozen.

momnextdoor said...

You made the right choice by turning around. Definitely a troll!!

And "chicken of the woods" is AWESOME! Thanks for that!

Stephanie said...

Definitely a troll. No question about it. I mean...those trees? Troll work.

Anonymous said...

Ahhh, the elusive Bulwark. Noisy little bugger, ain't he? His tale has been told so often in ye olde fairy tales of Grimm. Were you perchance anywhere near a bridge? And you didn't happen upon a billy goat at any time, did you? Oh, and did you know that a grouse is a sure sign of trolls? Proof positive, right there!!

Anonymous said...

Grouses are scary. One used to chase my brother and I home from the bus stop. Finally, my dad...took care of it.

Maybe you should have enlisted the grouse's protection against trolls. Next time!

karensomethingorother said...

I don't know why, but "mountain chicken" has totally tickled me.

Bah--I'm with you. ALL nature is scary!

Jim said...

I don't think there are any trolls left in Colorado. I think they've moved to Montana where it's less densely populated.

I came here via Erica's 'award blog' link. I am not creepy and totally harmless, so you don't have to send her emails or anything yelling at her!

Good story. I grew up in Montana, and my parents used to DRAG me on those hikes. Now I wish I still had access to trails like that.

Crack You Whip said...

I love hiking (not as much here in Louisiana) but I will remember this story the next time I go hiking up North. Note to self: keep eye out for trolls and grouse.

Anonymous said...

GAWDDAMMIT, LEAUXRA! What have I told you about going outside!?!

blissflower1969 said...

Ok, what's really weird is that your pictures look a lot like a forest that I see in my nightmares from time to time. And the forest leads to a mountain that has a cave where there are skeletons. The skeletons are the remains of hikers who were eaten by the witches who lived in the haunted caves.

So I'm saying it could have been witches. Good thing you left before you ended up a skeleton in their cave. But they may have fed them to their trolls too, so both theories work.

Izzy Mason said...

Okay, so the whole time I was reading this I was picturing the plastic trolls with the jewel belly buttons. Like this one:

and couldn't stop giggling to myself! Treasure trolls knocking over trees with their ginormous plastic feet. Teehee! A group of Treasure Trolls surrounding unexpecting hikers. Teehee! Treasure Trolls burning trees by reflecting light through their dangerously sparkly belly buttons. Teehee!

Leauxra said...

Keith: It is a myth that trolls can only move around at night. They can totally do all kinds of terrible things during the day.

momnextdoor: Gotta watch out for those chickens of the woods! Hah! And of COURSE it was a troll. Obviously.

Stephanie: I am glad we are all in agreement here. I need to figure out a good troll repellent for next time.

mistyslaws: I had no idea that grouse are a sign of trolls. This is going to make hiking more... adventuresome.

thoughtsappear: I am trying to picture being chased by a grouse, but I can't stop laughing. I mean, that must have been very traumatic, I'm glad you made it out alive!

Jim: Moose and lynxes and grizzlys and probably wolves are making a comeback here, so why not trolls? They are probably reintroducing some young trolls back into the area from Canada so that we have the proper "biodiversity".

Crack You Whip: I lived in New Orleans for a couple years, and I never managed to get out of town long enough to hike. I just assumed it was all swampy and alligator-y. Maybe you can canoe in the bayou?

hoodyhoo: I'm sorry I'm sorry I'm sorry. I can't help it. It's like a sickness.


Izzy Mason: You may be psychic. I kinda picture trolls like that, too. Can you imagine a treasure troll that is 12 feet tall and knocks over trees? Yeah. Terrifying.

Johi Kokjohn-Wagner said...

I haven't been up Signal Mountain in years. If there wasn't so much Troll Activity there, I would be up there this weekend (with my knapsack on my back... *she sings in her head).
We hiked Horsetooth last Friday evening for our "date night". We were approximately 2 miles from the truck Brock was all, "I hope we see a bear". I looked at him like he had just drank from the toilet with a crazy straw and said, "Uh.... I hope we DON'T see a bear." What.Ever. I'm so brave that it was no more than 10 minutes later when I almost stepped on a 5 inch long snake. I skidded to a stop and jumped away, throwing my husband at the snake in the process. I'm pretty sure that I'm wicked fun to hike with...
P.S. I LOVE your artwork.

Leauxra said...

Johi: I don't know how I missed this reply from.. oh a month ago.

I love that you threw your husband at the snake. That is just a good job. We should try hiking together some time...