The Dark River Path

I have heard it said that every photo should tell a story. I also follow a blog called Nuggets of Gold where the author often post a picture from Pinterest and writes a story about it. So, inspired by these things I am going to try to write a short story about a photo that I recently took. It depicts a river after the sun has set with the sky fading to dark.


It was growing dark and it was time to pack up his fishing gear and head home while he could still see the path. He climbed up the river bank to the path that ran back into town and to his house, where hopefully his mother would have supper ready. It was already beginning to grow dark beneath the trees on the path and he had a few miles to hike before he got home. He really enjoyed his afternoon of fishing and quiet solitude, but he had stayed out too late and didn’t even have any fish to show for it.

As he loped along he heard some coyotes howling off in the woods somewhere. “I guess they are ready to go hunting for the night he thought.” as he listened to their calls. “Coyotes don’t bother people, they’re probably looking for rabbits” he assured himself, but he quickened his pace a little all the same.

As he walked along, the trail became harder to see and he tripped over lose stones and tree roots occasionally. He was very aware of how alone he was on this trail beside the river. “Would the coyotes come down to the river for a drink?” he wondered to himself. “Coyotes don’t bother people,” he once again reassured himself “they go after smaller game.”

The coyotes howled again. “Were they closer this time?” It was hard to tell in the dark among the trees. “What if they were getting closer? What if they have caught my scent?” He worried to himself. Just then he tripped in a small hole in the path and tumbled to the ground. Dusting himself off he once again scolded himself for staying out so late on a moonless evening. He could barely make out the path now and he knew he wasn’t yet half way home.

He was hurrying down the path, stumbling on lose stones, and suddenly he heard an animal in the brush near the trail. It was very close and seemed to be coming right at him. He didn’t know whether to stand his ground or start running. He thought he could see the reflective glow of eyes, and started to run. This in turn spooked a racoon who ran out across the path in front of him and off into the woods.

“Whew! Only a racoon.” he thought “I really am letting my imagination get the best of me.” He continued plodding along the trail toward home straining see the path in the dim light to avoid rocks and roots.

Minutes past, the evening grew darker with the stars beginning to shine in the moonless sky, and the path became harder to see. He was chastising himself for not bringing his head lamp when he heard the coyotes again. They were very close this time! “They must be right on my tail!” he thought. Pangs of fear reverberated through is stomach. He began to jog down the path, hoping to make it close to the lights of the town. He heard the coyotes running through the grass and brush behind him. “There must be at least 10 of them.” he thought. “They sound like they’re right behind me!”

Just then he felt the sharp teeth of a coyote tear into his leg. He cried out in pain, dropped his fishing gear and began running as fast as he could. Branches were battering his head as he stumbled over lose stones in the path. Behind him the pack of ravenous coyotes got closer and he could hear their paws beating the ground as the ran. Heart pounding in his chest, he knew that he would soon be surrounded by the coyotes. He ran as fast as he could until his foot struck a tree root and he tumbled to the ground.

Rolling over he turned just in time to see a small herd of white tail deer dart across the path behind him and run off into the woods. He bent over breathing heavily after being completely scared out of his wits. Reaching down to his stinging leg, he found several needles of a prickly pear cactus sticking out of his skin. He painfully removed the cactus needles, went back to recover his fishing gear and resumed his journey home.

He heard the coyote howling again in the distance before he got home half an hour later. But he made it safely to his gate and felt silly for letting his imagination lead him to the point of panic. Time to go wash up and see what’s for dinner.


This was somewhat based on a couple of incidents that occurred while I was out hiking. The first occurred in Guadalupe Mountains National Park where I became convince that the large animal moving in the thicket was a mountain lion only to eventually find that it was a startled deer that took off running in front of me.

Another time I had been out hiking and taking sunset photos at Colorado Bend State Park Texas and I found that I had a few miles of trail to hike get back to my car and I didn’t bring my head lamp and I became concerned that I would miss the correct turns in the trails to make it back to my car. I stumbled down the trail in the dark and eventually found my car.

I also often hear coyotes howling at night when out camping. You can never really tell where the are, but they sure like to sing during the night. I’m sure they won’t bother me.

71 thoughts on “The Dark River Path

  1. Good job! Nice to know that I could provide some inspiration. You had me intrigued and feeling sorry for the poor guy. Especially when the coyote bit him! I had thought he would get saved first. Kept thinking a magical cow would save him. 🙂
    Glad that you never were attacked by a coyote!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Prickly pear can be just as dangerous as coyotes. I was attacked by a large pack of them once. It happened while I was hiking with a friend named Peter Piker, who picked on a pack of prickly pear. Yes, a pack of prickly pear, Peter Piker picked. Now, if Peter Piker picked on a pack of Prickly Pear, where’s the pack of Prickly Pear, Peter Packer picked? They all ended up attached to my leg.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I didn’t have trouble with prickly pear, but I used to go hiking with guys named Woody and Chuck. Now Woody and Chuck would have been good hiking partners, but when in the woods Woody and Chuck would chuck woodchucks at wood ducks who would duck and I would wonder how many woodchucks could Woody and Chuck chuck in the woods at wood ducks. So I left them in woods and said good luck Woody and Chuck with your woodchucks and wood ducks.

      Liked by 3 people

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