Today was very surreal for both me and my friend Rebecca, here’s the amazing and terrifying story of jumping the fence.
I had been wanting to go to Cameron Park for the past couple weeks because 1) I love hiking, being in the trees, sun on my face (I could go and on about trails and forests) and 2) because it would be a beautiful spot to take some gorgeous photos for my media photography class. I could just picture me taking some shots on top of a cliff looking over the Brazos River during the day with the sun seeping through the trees and a slight chill February Texas breeze coming from the river below. It was the perfect day. A good friend of mine, Becca, gave up a few hours of her day to join me as she also enjoys hiking and having lunch on the cliffs of Cameron Park. As she drives up to Circle Point (a designated area given to Cameron Park on top of a tall cliff) I start to imagine the awesome photos I am about to take. We park on the side of the road as all of the parking spots (which are few) were occupied and jump out.
Becca says, “I have a tent. Do you want to go camping?”
I laugh knowing she is joking. “Not today,” I reply.
She makes some more remarks on perhaps just living in the woods because we like it so much. I think as to how that might be a nice idea. But I forget to remember the scary things that happen in Cameron Park at night.
Becca is leading me to the corner of a fence and when she puts her bag on top of the stone that creates the corner for the fence I get confused. We have gone around or between fences before to get on undesignated trails before that have been blocked off but, I’ve never been to this part of Cameron Park. “What are you doing?” I asked nervously.
“We’re going on this trail,” she says pointing to the danger sign to the right of us.
I’ve always been one to try new things, but not the dangerous-adrenaline-seeking-type of new things. She hops over easily. I laugh at how easy it was for her and put my Peace Tea and drawstring bag on the stone and attempt to climb over the fence. She hopped over the part closet to the cliff and I hopped over the fence to the side of the trees. I think this indicates our personal levels of comfort. She is more risk-taking and I am willing to take risks but get nervous at some things. I struggle to get over the fence so she suggests putting one leg on the fence and propelling my body upward. I finally get over the fence and look behind me. “We’re already over, might as well continue on,” I think to myself.
Our journey begins below, taking pictures of each other standing on the cliff nearest us and acting all mighty starting our hiking adventure.
From there we went downhill still on the edge of the cliff to our left. We first met a couple in a hammock right on the edge of the cliff. They were so cute and let me take their photo which is not on here because it was out of focus and overexposed.
Then we kept going down and I took these amazing photos.
After this we headed back up left towards the edge of the cliff with the river on our left. Again, we met another couple (whose picture I didn’t take) who were sharing a romantic lunch seeing as how this was Valentine’s Day.
We said hi and then attempted to climb our way down a steep path to get on a regular designated walking path. I’m pretty sure they we’re annoyed with us as we were attempting our dissent right below them.
After that I started taking pictures of the sun and the trees and then we headed to a cleared edge to have our own lunch. Here are the photos from our picnic spot:
After lunch we went on various trails going up and down, hiking small little cliffs, testing our muscles to make sure we still had some. Everyday I am lethargic because I sit and do homework, sit in class, sit at work and only get up to walk to class. Going to Cameron Park is a breath of fresh air, literally.
Next goal: bamboo forest. Cameron Park has the most amazing area of bamboo growing wildly. I don’t know the history behind it but it’s amazing to attempt to climb the bamboo and get lost in there for a while. Up ahead of us there was a cute Baylor couple walking the trail. They saw me taking pictures earlier with my camera so they asked if I would take a picture of them in front of the bamboo. The guy had dark black shaggy hair with a tank top and shorts on, the girl had dark blonde long hair in a headband with blue jeans. Noting they looked sweet together, Becca and I wished them a happy Valentine’s Day and then we turned to head into the bamboo. Right before we headed into the bamboo forest there was a family behind us with young kids. The kids saw me and Becca walking off the trail on our left to enter the bamboo forest. The kids started complaining to their parents about not going in there too, but the parents were right to not let them enter. We were off the path but, sometimes it feels good to get off the path. Becca was ahead of me staring upwards into the bamboo and said, “Listen.”
As the family passed by and we walked more and more into the bamboo there was a beautiful silent breeze that sounded like whistling. The bamboos started gently hitting each other from the wind and the whistling turned into chimes. Becca said, “Isn’t that sound the best thing you’ve heard?”
I had to agree. This is why I loved nature. I just stood there closing my eyes and listening to the bamboo. After the wind ended we went to explore the bamboo. Baylor kids write their names on the bamboo just like you would etch your name into a tree. Here are the pictures of that exploration:
These photos were amazing and I will use them for my next photo assignment. As the I took the last photo on here I heard a loud crunching noise. It was extremely annoying and Becca and I looked towards the disturbing sound. There was a man dressed in all non-hiking clothes, wearing black jeans, a black shirt and a black hat. I became immediately suspicious as to why someone was out in the middle of bamboo where there is no path and, he was alone. He noticed me and came towards us. No saying hi, no calling for our attention, just coming towards us as fast as he could without stopping.
Here is where my adrenaline rush sparked from. My heart started beating fast and I became panicked. When something scares me I show my fear. I don’t why it is hard for me to hide. I started shaking and grabbed my bag and made sure my camera was around my neck. I told Becca to start walking towards the path. She didn’t know why I was so panicked as she tried looking for the man. She finally saw him and the unidentified man came closer and closer to us, trying to catch up, faster and faster to us.
“Hurry!” I told Becca who was behind me then. I looked behind and saw him closer to us than before. I reached the trail and look behind again for Becca this time. She was stumbling over fallen bamboo trees, but seemed relatively calm.
“Come on!” I yelled at her. I took off running on the trail which veered left and up a rocky path. My camera was hitting my chest hard but I didn’t care. “Why was he following us?” “Why is he alone?” “Is he trying to hurt us?” are thoughts that ran fast in my head. I focused on getting away from him. “Go faster” I told myself. Faster, faster. I looked back at Becca who was now at my heels. She got in front of me as I turned my attention back to the man behind us. Once we were on top of the rocky path we stopped for a second thinking we had lost him. We didn’t see anyone so we sighed a breath of relief. But then we heard a cracking noise below us. There he was, running up the hill we just ran coming towards us.
Becca told me to pull out my phone and I did. We started running again on flat ground filled with leaves and few trees. We could run better here and eventually lost him again after a minute. We stopped in a clearing and I asked, “Why is he following us?”
Becca said, “I don’t know.” I could tell she was panicked and I definitely was too but, her demeanor was collected as if she was in control of her inner emotions. I wasn’t, it was pretty obvious. But I unlocked my phone password and tapped the green phone icon. From there I typed in 911 but didn’t call them. It was my immediate thought. Becca looked behind us and didn’t see him. Then Becca said, “Come on.”
I looked behind and there he was, he seemed out of breath from running, as far as I could see, and was behind us by at least 200 yards. We picked up our pace still on a flat path as more trees surrounded us. I decided to finally call 911 while jogging and talked to woman on the phone. She asked, “What is your emergency?”
“There is a man following us,” I said extremely exasperated at this point. The man was still following us so we started jogging up the trail. More thoughts raced through my head as I was talking to the woman, “Why the hell is he following us?” “What does he want?” “I am not getting raped, not today!”
I told the woman we were up in the cliffs of Cameron Park and didn’t know what trail we’re on. The woman said she couldn’t hear me anymore because I was out of breath. She said I needed to calm down. How the hell am I supposed to calm down when there is a man chasing me and I am jogging up a cliff? Then all of a sudden we saw pavement. There was a street about 20 yards ahead of us where the trees ended and leaves fell all around. I told the woman I was sorry I called (I just needed someone to know we were in a state of panic) and hung up before she could finish her next sentence.
Right before we reached the road we looked behind us once more and saw the man about 300 yards behind us.
Becca said, “Calm down, don’t show him you are afraid.” Since we were on a road now she felt more confident that we could walk normally without panicking.
Once we stepped on the pavement on the side of the street I was overcome with relief. We were safe. I never knew how wonderful being stranded going forwards on the right side of a road could be. Becca and I assumed we were safe heading towards the direction of Circle Point, but we didn’t know how far we were from her car. We didn’t see the man behind us so we looked at each other uneasily and smiled.
“We could have almost been raped!” she exclaimed, not knowing his motive for following us.
“I am hyped on adrenaline right now,” I said trying to relax my nerves by verbally reassuring myself. I honestly didn’t know how to feel. Relieved because we lost him, or relieved because nothing happened to us? Or, was I still scared altogether?
The road winded up and to the right. We kept looking behind us or into the woods on our right to see if he was there, still following us. Becca then spotted the couple I had taken a picture of earlier, noting his black hair and her blue jeans. I felt safer knowing there are others nearby, but at the same time, why would a guy follow us (under the impression he was dangerous) when there could possibly be people around?
None of what just happened made sense. All of the sudden Becca spotted her red car parked on the side of the road ahead of us and a calm-like happiness came over me. Becca smiled again at me knowing we would be fine. As I turned around one last time to be sure the creeper wasn’t lurking, there he was, walking behind us on the road! Honestly all I could think was “What the f**k? Who is this person, thinking he can keep following us?”
We ran up to her car, got in quickly, locked the doors and watched the man walk past the car. He had sunglasses on and we couldn’t tell whether or not he was looking at us. He headed up the hill and headed toward the right, by the forest.
Breathing normal and our hearts beating evenly, Becca and I just looked at each other. We were both thinking the same thought: “What just happened?”
Throughout the ride back to Baylor and later that evening at a party we were going to, we kept questioning the events that occurred during that time. What was his motive? Was he crazy? Why didn’t he identify himself?
After constant questioning something sparked my mind: when we were in the bamboo forest, we could gently hear cars driving down the road ahead of us. That meant that the guy (who was even closer to the road than we were) must have heard the road next to him. If his motive was to find his way because he was lost, why not go on the road next to you? Why come after us?
Overall, the whole experience shook me up but, it definitely didn’t ruin the day. We all will experience a time in our lives, probably a lot of times in our lives, where we will get so scared and shaken up, not knowing where to turn to, as if something is chasing us. Literally, it could be someone, or metaphorically it could be tough situations you refuse to stand up to. But I decided to jump the fence today and to take the chances that that path provided me. It was fun, adventurous, surprising, sweet, inspiring, happy, scary, and great. It was a great day filled with a rollercoaster of emotions. But I rather jump the fence everyday to experience what life is really about, living.
Tips when going hiking: 1) go with a friend/friends 2) bring pepper spray, attackers can be stopped/slowed down with pepper spray. Buy some here: https://www.sabrered.com/on-the-go 3) make sure to bring your phone with you and something that I forgot earlier in the woods: if you have an iPhone, when you go to type in your password there is an emergency text on the bottom left, press it and you can dial for emergency 4) don’t bring a lot of things, this can slow you down 5) if you can think of anything else comment below
Here are some articles on rape in Cameron Park in Waco, TX