A few days ago I received two phone calls from my neighbors then ran into a third neighbor who mentioned the same thing: A mile up the road from my house were two Game Warden vehicles and out of the vehicles came 8 or more men dressed in camo from head to toe.
These men were even wearing camouflage face paint and were carrying very large assault rifles.
They unloaded from the trucks and disappeared into the bushes and down a steep trail where I have never seen a human go before.
I’d seen a coyote and two rattlesnakes go down that trail, but never a human.
All three neighbors asked the same thing: What do you think these camouflaged, gun-toting guys are doing running down a trail where people usually don’t go?
Well, I thought to myself, you have come to the right person because I have my figure on the pulse of this mountain. I am “in the know.”
To each and everyone my reply was the same. I told them that I heard there had been a pot farm bust the week before at a different location on the mountain and that this was probably a continuation of the same operation.
All three of my neighbors reply was the same. “Are you sure they’re not going to shoot the lions? They were in Game Warden trucks?”
“Nay-nay” said I.
They wouldn’t go to all the trouble to shoot a couple of lions that hadn’t hurt anyone.
My neighbors breathed sighs of relief and went about their day. Except one. I’m not going to mention her name because she is a friend and I wouldn’t want to make her look bad.
My mind was spinning. I was angry. How could they?
The lions hadn’t hurt anyone.
I needed to do something and I needed to do it fast. I had to stop eight burly guys with semi-automatic weapons from shooting my beloved lions.
So I looked down at the fluffy white poodle I was dog sitting and sprang into action. I threw little Chloe along with Moondoggie in my car and drove up the mountain.
The Game warden trucks were parked along the road at the hairpin turn, a turn I call The Bay Tunnel. I was shaking with anger when I parked my Volvo station wagon behind one of the extended cab, Eddie Bauer green 4wd trucks and jumped out of my car in to the dirt shoulder.
“Excuse me, Excuse me, Hey, is there is anyone one there? Don’t shoot me.”
“Is anyone around, hello?” I yelled to the camo game warden and his crew.
I had relocated two rattlesnakes to this very path and the last time was hiking in yoga pants near rattlesnakes well, all I can say is—Sixty-Six Vials Of Antivenin.
I started to get stickers in the bottom of my yoga pants and I looked down to see a fine layer of dust over my Boca Raton Pedicure and my Cole Hahns.
I had visions in my head or stripping down to my undies and swinging through the trees holding a spear, a la Avatar.
I could hear the Door’s song, “The End,” playing in my head as I saw myself slowly ascending from the bottom of a pond in front of the Game Warden and his team of killers dressed in my own, more fashionable camo make-up, with a knife between my teeth.
A wild berry vine looped over my foot and scratched my ankle so I turned back.
Chloe and I on our quest to save the lions.
I sat in my car and stewed like a can of tomatoes.
I made phone calls to friends, to the Game Warden’s office, the Puma Project researchers, and to whomever else might have information.
They either weren’t answering or they knew nothing. So I stewed some more.
Chloe and Moondoggie looking at me with doubt in their eyes. Why is your Volvo Station parked behind these big scary trucks and why aren’t you walking us?
I was also questioning my own sanity. I had a to-do list as long as the game warden’s gun. What was I doing here?
I drove down the hill, picked up my computer and headed back to stare at the game warden’s trucks some more, still no movement.
I did a little work then the sad eyes of my little doggie wards coaxed me into a walk. A bright idea came to me. I would drive home again and take the dogs for a walk…back up to the game warden’s truck.
So I did. I ran poor little Chloe back up to the trucks as fast as her seven-inch legs could carry her. The trucks were still there, still no movement.
So I decided to run a little further up the hill when all of a sudden an unmarked helicopter strafed my dogs and me.
The helicopter was hovering above the area where the game warden would have been way down in the canyon.
I stood there for a minute. Chloe and Moondoggie stared up at the sky. Panting, wondering why I keep hanging around the green trucks.
We headed back down toward the trucks when the helicopter buzzed us again and flew back up the road and then did a dive over the side.
Ran back up the hill again to see if I could see where it was going.
I made it to the guardrail and looked down. I saw the helicopter land near Lexington Reservoir, where the CDF do water training. Next to the helicopter were rows of ten white unmarked four-wheel-drive trucks.
Back on my hill, I was running down the road toward the green trucks for the fifth time. Still no one around, so I decided to give up and make my way down the hill toward home when...there they were, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6,7 white trucks packed with burly guys in camo.
I stopped and stood, gawking as they flew past me. I looked down at Chloe who seemed to say, “Well, why don’t you ask them?” This is when I threw my body in front of the eighth truck. “Stop”
The driver screeched to a halt.
The trooper in the passenger seat rolled down his window and smiled, his teeth gleaming through the wilderness make-up.
The words that came out of my mouth were these. “Are you here to shoot our beloved mountain lions?” Yes, I actually said “beloved mountain lions.”
My asinine question was met with doubled-over belly laughs from the passengers in the truck.
They laughed so hard they ran their green make-up.
One camo guy said in a sarcastic titter, "Yah, were hear to hunt mountain lions."
The other men roared again with laughter.
“You guys are doing a big pot farm bust aren’t you?” I said with sheepish realization.
One of the guys answered “yes” in between chortles. They were still cackling as the pulled away
One guy yelled “cute dog” as they drove up the hill. I looked down at Chloe, some how that comment sounded a bit sarcastic coming from a guy in camo with an automatic weapon.
I yelled back—“Hey! I thought they caught bin Laden”—but I don’t think they heard me. Chloe seemed to think it was funny.
"weed" abatement. photo by Simon Quellen Field
I walked down the hill toward home, two dogs prancing beside me. The Lions were save. Our mountain was safe. All was right with the world.
Part of the "weed" abatement teem being air lifted out of the canyon. Photo by Simon Quellen Field
But there was still one lingering unanswered question, "What are they going to do with all that confiscated weed?"