A woman alone in the woods under the almost nude tree canopy a short distance from the rocky Youghiogheny. A sign warned people and vehicles to watch for each other at a crossing. The trail appeared to lead riverside. A few steps ahead a man was holding a gun. Murder flashed in my head. Too many true crime stories. I kept walking defiant against imagination. He was not in stealth mode. He was wearing rubber boots, red and black checkered houndstooth pants with a woodlands camo jacket and blaze orange hat. He was a trailblazing maven of style. From the opposite direction pedaled a cyclist who said “Don’t shoot!” as he rode by. The hunter turned to speak then straightened to scan the shallow ravine for prey. A kill so close to his pick-up truck in the parking lot would be a storybook ending to a day of hunting. But surely this was a safety zone. I pulled out my phone for a selfie so I could look behind me without turning. Crime stories still looped in my head. The trail was veering away from the river so I turned back. My hunter was gone—no shots fired.
A woman alone in the woods or on a dark street considers threats. On this day in a state park it was three of us on a trail with only one person armed that jarred those thoughts loose. I’m buying blaze orange.