I decided yesterday that I could benefit from a positive mental attitude…a Can Do! Spirit. I decided that since everything was calming down and I was so close to home that I could walk longer into the day. I figured that it was still comfortable temperature wise until the sun really hits…about 9:30 – 10:00. That would give me at least two – four more hours of walking, and that would mean maybe four to eight more miles out of the way each day. And that means I get home sooner.
The key is “get home” and that is the truly important part…I have to actually get home! Being stupid could make that impossible. Why? Let me explain…
Since my incredibly brilliant decision to walk well into the morning since I was doing so well, I just kept walking this morning well past dawn. Everything was fine until I saw them. Three wagons full of people and a fourth wagon full of stuff. No idea what the stuff was because I was too far away. It was piled high and tied down with ropes. But, it was the wagons full of people that really got my attention. They looked pitiful!
These people were all hungry looking, their eyes were sunk in, faces all kind of ashen looking, and their clothes were rags. And it struck me after looking at them for a couple of minutes…no women under the age of “old”, maybe 50, possibly 40. Then it hit me that none of the men looked like they were in decent shape, they all looked sick or worn out. A sorry lot, all of them.
I should have been paying more attention to my entire situation – Situational Awareness. If I had, I would have seen the out-riders. And I should have been thinking that anyways. Any movement of people, especially a mobile column, like this is probably going to have out-riders to protect their flanks from surprise attack. This group that them.
I was laying there in the bush and observing the folks riding by not really paying attention to much of anything else. Luckily for me this really big fly landed on my face and I turned my head and swatted at it with my hand. That’s when I saw the out-rider on this flank…he was maybe 100 feet away. And that it far, far too close.
The only thing that saved me was a combination of my cammo clothing and that he was not looking in my direction. His head was swiveling in a 270 degree arc and he would have seen me had he been looking my direction. By the time he swung his head my direction I had already moved slowly but got behind a larger mesquite bush. He had little to no chance of spotting me as I laid there really still. But, I was baking in the sun by the time they moved on.
I will go back to walking during darkness and staying hid during the day. One small shift of timing, or any other number of variables, and I would be dead or in one of those wagons.
And this group of riders once again had badges on. But, they didn’t look like any real badge I’ve ever seen. Looked to me more like just a star that had been roughly cut out of some kind of shiny metal. Yeah, I was that close this time. The riders who wore the badges also had a red cloth tied around their left arm between the elbow and shoulder. I didn’t get a good feeling about them…no, not at all.
I think the adrenaline rush has worn off and I gotta get some sleep. I found a pretty decent little spot in an arroyo with a nice tree putting out a lot of shade. I am going to sleep until twilight, then grab a bite to eat, and head out at dark. I should reach Akela Flats sometime tonight.
And no more overestimating my abilities, I have to be realistic! I am competent with some things, in some ways. But being overconfident, or over estimating my abilities, is a sure way to suffer a fatal attack of Competency Bias.
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