Scorpions and Spiders and Cougars, Oh My!

More and more I have been receiving the advice “Be careful, Mandy!”. While I understand this comes from a place of caring, I have only this to say: I will be mostly careful.


The Jeep and I stopping for a selfie with the Sun after filming the Vlog!

I have no death wish, yet I understand that adventure, and ultimate success, comes from taking risks. So I aim to take many risks. Many, many appropriate risks.

Such risks often include solo hikes. A necessity for a photographer traveling alone, wishing to reach the magical places. Last night was no exception. While I ran into a few more risks than usual, I ended up with 3 images that I’m very happy with, and 1 lesson that I will never have to learn again. I don’t regret it for a minute.

The story is 8 minutes long… but I promise it’s entertaining. Enjoy….

Video Blog #7: Scorpions and Spiders and Cougars, Oh My!

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with 3 Legged Thing | Hoodman | Schneider Optics | Nikon | Nik Software | Inda Eaton


My favorite capture on the trail down to the Window. Mandy Lea Photo


The ultimate view from the end of the Windows trail. Mandy Lea Photo


A final stop before returning to the car, to capture lightning alongside the milky way.                     Mandy Lea Photo.


  1. Reply


    October 28, 2016

    So much wow! I’m glad you’re okay. I don’t know how you do it, though. Big hug!

  2. Reply


    October 28, 2016

    Very inspiring- I always feel afraid to hike by myself but not fear of 4 legged animals – it’s the two legged animals I worry about! Love your blog!

  3. Reply


    October 28, 2016

    The scorpion was actually a Vinagaroon, named because they put off a vinegar type smell when agitated. The first time I ever encountered one was when I hiked the Window Trail. Also, the first time I hiked the Window Trail I was about 1.5 miles in and caught a whiff of ‘cat pee’. I remember thinking, man why does it smell like cat pee. That was immediately followed by the thought of what kind of cats they have in the Chisos Basin; yes, that would be Cougars. Like you I was alert and nervous for quite a bit of time after that. Unlike you I didn’t see the cougar and my hike was in broad daylight.

    The Window Trail, and all of the Chisos Basin / Big Bend region is a magical place. I love being out there; the desert recharges a part of the soul that no other area can touch. I’m looking forward to taking a trip out that way in early January, a time of year that I haven’t experienced in the Big Bend area yet. But between January and now I’ll be traveling to the canyons of the panhandle region and into New Mexico during the week of Thanksgiving. It’s a different kind of desert up there, but as equally amazing as the Big Bend area.

    Safe travels Mandy, and keep the hot pepper parts of your trip on the dinner plate from now on and not in your eyes or all over the car.

    • Reply

      Mandy Lea Photo

      November 1, 2016

      Wow! Sounds like our hikes were very similar! I’m so glad I could bring back a good memory for you.

      And good to know about the vinagaroon! Always something new to learn!

  4. Reply

    Sherry Sauter

    October 29, 2016

    Oh my Mandy what an adventure you have taken us all on. I would love to do this well everything except the bear spray. Thank you for sharing your experience with us. I enjoy it very much, but please…please be careful.

  5. Reply

    Anna Garza

    October 29, 2016

    WOW!! Be safe taking those risks!!

  6. Reply

    Melody Tucker

    October 30, 2016

    Glad you did this in your car accidentally and not backwards on a bear!! 🙂 Winston has your back….Lol

  7. Reply


    October 30, 2016

    Really enjoyed reading this. Knowing you survived and are well enough to blog it helped my apprehension on your behalf. After reading your opinion on risk taking I have decided not to rain on your parade again by repeating ” be careful”. Not even a tiny BC abbreviation. 😊 Thank you for the adventure which I enjoyed tremendously. All except for the spider eyes.😳 So glad they weren’t looking at ME! Ciao. 🌺

  8. Reply

    Mandy Lea Photo

    November 1, 2016

    NOW it is 😛

  9. Reply


    November 4, 2016

    Awesome post….Great story !

  10. Reply

    Krys Rockwood

    November 7, 2016

    Oopsie!… Glad you’re OK & it was nothing more serious!

  11. Reply


    February 24, 2017

    Wow – this was a lot of fun to watch, but also eye opening to what I may have missed. I did the same photo trek back in 1997 (I used to lead my friends to NPs for spring break in college – we’d try to head south to escape March in Chicago…Big Bend was a fun looking splotch on the map that met the “south” requirement).

    Anyway, I can’t remember if all of us went out to the Window so I could shoot sunset, but at least some of us did. I remember part of our inadvertent “adventure” was not having enough lighting with us for the return hike in the dark. This is corroborated by the fact that we didn’t see ANY of that stuff!! Now I can only imagine what we were tromping on and near out there! In hindsight, it’s probably good no one saw that – it likely would have ended the possibility of me finding friends to drag to other NPs for future spring break trips!

    As a random tidbit – I ended up choosing the Chisos Basin and the Window area in particular for a project in my Airphoto Interpretation course later in college. Ordered stereo pairs and analyzed geology and heights of various formations, etc. Still have that stuff and use it to show people how to view stereo pairs. 🙂

    (nuke if this is a dup – had a weird login issue, so I couldn’t tell if the comment posted or not)

    • Reply

      Mandy Lea Photo

      February 25, 2017

      Thats a great story Allie! Thanks for sharing 🙂 I just love the random memories that my stories will stir in people and I totally appreciate you sharing. It really is a beautiful area… but ya… if it weren’t for that headlamp I would have missed it all, LOL

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