One of the things I miss most about living in Switzerland is the ability to walk anywhere legally. For the first year there, I constantly felt like I was trespassing as hiking trails led us through quiet vineyards, cow pastures, farms and sometimes even close enough to people's homes you can see what they're having for dinner. I got over it quickly as locals educated us on the "right to pass" as long as there were no "privacy" signs. I only ever saw about 5 privacy signs in my two years there.
Unfortunately, back in the US, where lawsuits reign, a lot of beautiful walking or hiking areas are restricted. I live in a beautiful area of Northern California and should be able to walk out my door and take a hike in the surrounding thousands of acres of woods, legally, but "No Trespassing" signs (by corporations who own the land) are everywhere. I do get it. I would have a heart attack if someone had hurt or killed themselves trying to cross Nitwit Bridge on our property.
There are a few secret locations to restricted, corporately-owned, trails that the locals grant passage to on their property for known neighbors to use at their own risk. Loki, Juno and I take advantage of some of those beautiful single track redwoods trails about once per week now. They both love it. It's incredibly sad that those trails aren't open to the public. Because there's literally no other place to walk your dog in our area except on busy roads.
Ever have the heebie jeebies? You know, that tingle up your spine that you aren't alone? I have hiked and biked in the woods almost daily for 19 years now and only had that feeling a handful of times---one of those times last week on the secret trails. I couldn't shake the "sick" sense that something was watching us. And it wasn't human. I stopped to take a few quick shots and look around but instinct told me to keep going.
I wondered, "What would KB do?" So, I sang Christmas carols at the top of my lungs knowing that no living creature would withstand the cackling of my singing voice. Even Juno, my "500-feet is close enough to you" Siberian stuck close to me. I trusted the Sibe and hurried out. It's obvious that since these trails aren't public, they are more frequented by "other" locals--mountain lions, boars and bob cats.
I got the message loud and clear. It's time to dig out that can of bear spray and carry it on my hip.
I remember having that feeling when I would hike in the Rancho area in Los Altos Hills, like something was watching me. Fortunately and unfortunately there are so many people who discovered that area that the feeling did not occur again when I walked there.
You sure are brave. I would be terrified if I thought a lion or bear was near me.
Your "what would KB do" is a dangerous thought to have. KB would insanely try to figure out what was watching her. Then, if she couldn't figure out, she'd do the same as you!
We have similar secret trails around here. I crashed my bike and broke a rib on one a few years ago. Since then, I carry a "Spot" tracking beacon that has a 911 button. Since these trails are so rarely traveled, it could take a week for someone to find me. That's why I carry the Spot.
Your photos are so very different in California than in Switzerland. They seem wilder in CA... I love them!
It is too bad that there aren't more trails open to residents. I can't imagine living in such a beautiful place and limited to walking on busy streets.
As for your stalker. Yeah, super scary. Be prepared.