Take a Trek

Day 19: Predators in Action

Mission Creek to Animal Cages
Miles: 230-251 (21)

This morning is a long, hot slog. I hike from 4,000 to 7,000 feet, but it’s not a straight climb. Every time I reach a ridge, the trail descends again, only to climb a different pile of dirt. I can’t find any sort of momentum. I feel like I rolled out of bed and got sucker punched. 

I meet Orbit and E Brake, a couple of west coast girls with tiny packs. Orbit hiked the PCT last year. She was bringing her friend to Campo, when her parked truck unexpectedly rolled over a cliff and smashed into a giant rock. The emergency brake had malfunctioned and the vehicle was totaled, so she decided to hike back to her home in Agua Dulce, 500 miles up the trail. Her friend immediately acquired the trailname E Brake.

I take a three hour siesta next to a trickle of water that’s coming out of a messy embankment of dirt and rocks. There’s a picnic table nearby. I lay down on top of it, pull my sunhat over my face, and close my eyes. I’m impossibly tired and my feet throb from a parade of blisters that I acquired coming down San Jacinto. I feel defeated. I drift away for over an hour and have a strange dream about going home. I visit Vermont and it’s lofty, green mountains that go on forever. I visit my friends and family. I see myself giving up on the desert and leaving this place forever. I wake up.

That wasn’t a dream; it was a nightmare.

I slip into the harness of my pack, my life. I squish my earbuds into my head, thumb through the iTunes app on my phone, and land on Metallica Death magnetic. I slide the volume button to high. I summon my inner hiker demon.

Fuck that dream.

The trail rises and falls for another eleven miles, and I cruise through it all. I follow my breath in circles, over and over again. I look inside of myself, find the pain, and turn it off. No problemo. 

I camp with Lobo and Attila The Bun just past an assortment of caged animals, including mountain lions, tigers, and grizzly bears. This is where a company called “Predators in Action” sends it’s exotic stunt animals to retire when Hollywood is done with them. I thought I was having a rough day, until I saw these beautiful creatures pacing mindlessly in their cages. Ironically, Predators in Action has a website that says: “animals live their lives in the lush pine forest, on hundreds of pristine acres, at their compound at the top of Big Bear Mountain.” They forgot to mention the small cages.

Predators in Action

The USDA has already cited Predators In Action for numerous noncompliance a with the federal Animal Welfare Act, including their failure to provide appropriate veterinary care, living space, and shelter from snow and rain. It seems none of the accusations have been rectified.

Fuck Predators in Action. There’s a petition that you can sign to help fight for these animals. It’s right HERE.