Today was a teacher work day and my kid wanted to go hiking, so I decided to take her to this old forest I used to go to back when I was younger. It's a really beautiful long straight trail along a canal that opens up to a peninsula with the bay of Miami at the end. There is only one direction in and one direction out. If you are at the end, which is about a 45 minute walk from the entrance, the only way to get out if cornered is if you jump in the water. This place is ideal.
I parked my car and we got out and started hiking. The entrance is right by a main road with tons of cars passing by. There used to be Australian pine trees covering walkers from the road of onlookers in cars but because they weren't natural to the environment, the city had decimated everything.
We were pretty visible for quite a long distance from the road as we were walking through. The ground in the forest is lower than the road, so anyone looking down could see us walking as they drove past. That's the reason I think he knew it was just two females and it was deliberate. It wasn't just someone that saw a car parked outside. He must have seen an opportunity and decided to take it. Now I think back what was I thinking...2 females walking in a desolate trail with no escape but the way we came in. What could go wrong? We were sitting looking at the water of an estuary mangrove for a bit, and when I got up I saw a big chunky guy wearing a light blue shirt walking towards us. I stopped and just stared. My daughter is 9 and she didn't get why he could be dangerous. She asked if we were going to keep walking over to the ocean part and I told her "No, I'm just going to keep looking to see what he does". In my mind, I figured if he was harmless he would just keep walking and pass us by. No harm done. I wanted to see what he was going to do though just in case. At this point I didn't think much but I was on high alert.
When he saw me staring he started pretending to take photos but haphazardly like all crazy and weird and at random things. All that was there is rocks, weeds and dry grass because it hasn't rained. Not much to shoot. So my kid says "Oh look he is just taking photos." I tell her, "Oh yeah, of what? What is he taking pictures of? Grass? Weeds? No one does that. This guy is up to something." She has better eyesight than I do and she soon realized I was right. She couldn't see a camera in his hand. This was my first big red flag. For about 5 minutes I just kept watching and observing to see what he would do. I wasn't going to let my guard down to keep walking with him behind us and I wasn't going to walk towards him, so I was at a standstill. I guess he realized I wasn't going to turn my back on him so he pretended to walk away but I could still see him behind some of the trees. He was wearing a light blue shirt and he stuck out like a sore thumb behind the dead brown branches. I was feeling brave and I waved. Like saying yeah I still see you asshole. This is what made me realize he was really planning something sinister. He must have wanted me to let my guard down and keep walking down the trail to the end. But I wasn't budging. He must have been done with me by that point and he started to walk away back to the entrance. I waited a few minutes more and when I was sure he wasn't coming back, I started walking back to my car. My daughter asked me if we were gonna keep hiking and I told her "NO WAY! We are going home!"
I know those woods like the back of my hand, so I took a path that was opposite of the one he left on. You can only leave in one direction but the street is long and there are two ways. One by the bridge but it's full of spiny branches to the left and the main entrance is to the right. I took the one to the left. It was one that would have been very far away from the main entrance if he would have been waiting for me there. I was able to get a glimpse of his white truck parked by the entrance as I was walking back the last few yards but by the time I reached the top of the hill he was long gone. I didn't notice any city markings on it either. When I got home my man took me to a shop and bought me a spring loaded knife and I just bought some mace. I have been there a million times over the years alone and I have seen men alone there before with no issues, but this was definitely different. I am glad I intimidated him. From now on I'm walking with the pocket knife in my hand. My daughter and I could have ended up dead today but I was ready and waiting for anything. He must have chickened out. It was a great teaching moment for my kid. Good luck to any man that tries anything on us. We will be ready. I'm still pretty shaken. That was intense.
Click to play gallery of all images I took a few days later when I went with my whole family: