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Hyenas and Mountains 2017

Out of my comfort zone

Grantley Trebble


This story is about a spontaneous hike through the Butijeera Mountains in the south-central Ethiopian countryside. My friend Gil and I arrived at the base just as the full moon was appearing behind the mountain range.
We hiked for a couple hours, feeling the cold air kissing our cheeks, seeing the trees waving gently at us as we passed, the bats dancing in the sky, it was such serenity…
Suddenly, “OOOOOOOOuuuuuuWOOoooo!!!!!” broke the air of tranquillity. “What was that noise? “ I thought to myself, “Hyenas” Gil chimed in as if he was reading my mind. The silence resumed, this time with a more ominous air to it. We had both never encountered hyenas but have seen bears in the wild, so we shrugged our shoulders, deciding that we wouldn't let paranoia poison our night. The sound was far away and didn’t seem directed to us. So on we continued on our waltz with the majestic mountain.
After another hour, we decided it was about time to find a camp for the night as fatigue began to set in. We found an ideal flat area surrounded by tall grass and began to set up camp.
I paused one moment to take in the sounds around me, and what I heard caused all the hair on my body to stand on end. "OOOUUUuuuuuuUUUWWOOOOOO!!"
Not one hyena, but two, and they were a lot closer than the howl we had heard earlier.
Now I don't speak hyena very well, but I've watched enough Discovery Channel to know that they only communicate like that with each other when they are coordinating an attack, and with each howl being on either side of us, we seemed to be the intended targets.
"Hyenas don't hunt humans do they?" I pondered out loud. Gil replied, "not typically, they are probably hunting some hurt animal or someth…"
My freezing face was alleviated by the blood that rushed it.
In a scramble, we threw our equipment into our bags. Their noises repeated even closer, this time including the rustling of the tall grass in front of us.
Backing up slowly, we aimed our flashlights to the tall grass, revealing two pairs of glowing eyes, with their forms lingering just outside of our beams of light. We started to shout and bang our metal pots together in an attempt to ward of the shadowy beings. We ran and ran until we discovered a sleepy 5 house village. We screamed until one house lit up with candlelight and the inhabitants invited us into their home to rest safely.

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