Mountains. Lots of them. From where she stood on the hilltop, no caves, or even a hint of them, were visible. Only those who knew of the exact location of her cave would be able to find it, and she had never told as soul. For as long as she could remember, this was her safe haven. When in distressed or in trouble or simply tired, she escaped to this place. It was in the wilderness, far from any civilization. She had never seen more than a couple travelers hiking the passes of the mountain range opposite. She would be safe as soon as she reached it, if she could reach it.
Treading as silently and lightly as possible in her bare feet, she tried to walk on the rocks or hard, bare ground to keep from leaving tracks. As soon as she was in foothills, she found a rocky stream and began wading upriver. When that left her path she took a few minutes to bathe the human smell from her, rubbing aromatic plants on her skin and feet to cover her scent in case her pursuers used dogs. She continued on.
Two hours later the woods turned to pines and other evergreens. The forest floor, strewn with a thick needle bed would make hiding her tracks easier. She broke a few new, sappy needles to again rub on her feet to hide her scent. Despite her entrenched and well founded belief that her hunters were ignorant of tracking and woodcraft, she couldn’t manage to shake the terrible and near paralyzing fear of being caught. She felt sympathy for the animals she had seen hunted by predators. Now she knew the dread, the heavy instinct to tear through the woods until her body gave out. But she knew if she wanted to truly be safe, she must be smart, leave them nothing to follow.
Dusk. She had to make a choice. Find a place to sleep for the night and move on in the morning, or press on in the dark and risk leaving a trail or perhaps be hunted by animals as well as men. She had a greater respect for the tracking skills of a mountain lion or bear than she did for the party she was trying to lose. Her stomach made up her mind for her. Piñón trees were scattered throughout the forest at this height in the mountains, and if she searched she could find one not too far out of her way. The nuts were plentiful and edible, if not filling. Berries would be out of the question at this time of year, and she didn’t have several days to set traps. Nuts it would be. Once she had found and eaten enough to settle her stomach, she disguised her work as the work of squirrels and birds. She then spent the last shred of light searching for a large, sturdy tree with a thick tangle of branches. Before climbing up she grabbed some fallen branches to make a nest for herself so as to not fall out of the tree and break her neck in the night. With one last look and listen, she quieted herself to sleep.