Does this look like a sky that's about to spew forth lightning to you? Well, it didn't to me. In California not only did it never thunder and lightning- well, ok, maybe once every 5 years- it DEFINITELY didn't rain in the SUMMER. The SUMMER, fer cryin out loud. Summer has always meant dry yellow hills and heat with no humidity, to me anyway. NEVER would I don a sweatshirt, as I have occasionally this summer. So, the occasional sprinkle and storm has taken some getting used to. And I thought it was done for the day, and I really needed my hike. I've been trying to exercise (man I HATE spelling that word) everyday, you know, only because the camera is making me LOOK fat.
Slight digression, a shout out to my Dad: I fixed my bike up, patched tires and greased moving parts and dusted out and de-cobwebbed my helmet, and have been riding the hills and neighborhood. Sometimes even- GASP- at 7 in the durn morning! That's when I really think about my Dad- and my 4 miles to his 90. Not exaggerating here, either, y'all know he's a bike ninja.
ANYHOO, this hike was pre fixed bike, and, as usual, I took Nikita. In case of bear or mountain lion attack, I plan to throw her to them and run like crazy. KIDDING!!! About a mile out it started to sprinkle, so I put my camera in it's bag. Then, of course, wouldn't you know it, a fricken HERD of deer runs across the path RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME. I whupped out my cam but, as you can see, was too late. If you look REEEEEEEAL close you can see two of them. Ah well. Onward I continued. What's a little rain when it's 70 degrees out AND you're working up a sweat. Niki doesn't like the rain at all, though, so she was alternately crowding against me, nearly tripping me, and tugging the leash towards home. Then it REALLY started dumping, and ka-boom BLAM thundering. As the path headed towards a stand of trees I had my first thoughts of turning back. Because under trees is the last place you want to be in a thunderstorm, right? At least I think that's it. Hey, like I said, I don't have a lot of experience with lightning.
I also don't know if the whole "counting seconds between bolts and thunder= miles" thing is true, but if it is, then I figured it was a good 5 miles away. I might have pressed on, but poor Niki was so miserable and we were both getting soaked, so I called off the excursion. As I headed back down the trail, I noticed the seconds between flash and bang were getting less and less, not to mention there were trees AHEAD as well as behind, so I took a visual on home (great views up here) and made a bee line. I was about a mile out still, and I realized that as the crow flies- in fact, ANY way I chose, there were trees. I had avoided the taller live ones and was now cutting through a dead forest left standing after the fires several years ago.
I started jogging. Nikita liked this plan. I dodged fallen logs, whipped through weeds, soaking my legs, tried to keep as much distance as possible between me and trees- which sometimes was less than 20 feet. Maybe even less than 10. Not only was my adrenaline RAGING, I was laughing out loud. I couldn't help it, it was exhilarating and exciting and I felt wholy alive. I paused to catch my breath and check my bearings, yup there was home on the next hill and lightning streaked right over it. I didn't even have time to think WOW when the thunder cracked less than a second later, booming in my chest, hurting my ears.
I may have yelled an expletive. I know I jumped, it felt like 3 feet, straight in the air. The lightning had been a horizontal streak, not a vertical one or I might have been fried. I RAN the entire rest of the way home, laughing and terrified. I made it, soaking. I stripped down and got some warm clothes on, put Niki in her house, and got a hot meal started. Then Mom and Potterman drove up. Apparently they had been out four-bying, scouring the hills for me, honking and yelling, an arsenal of towels and a bathrobe tucked in the car.
Boy am I loved. And boy were they relieved! Apparently I am not allowed to go off hiking without a cell phone EVER AGAIN. At least it all worked out in the end.
Even the sunset. I did NOT enhance the color in these photos. Aren't happy endings the best???