Friday, June 1, 2012

A Storm and the Imposters



My girlfriend and I were backpacking various nature preserves in Florida a couple of years ago. We arrived at one particular park, with a huge tropical storm chasing us (if you have ever camped in Florida, you know how intense those storms can get). Take note that we were the only car in the lot. We were with Boston Terrier, bookin it about 3 miles to the first good camp spot, trying to beat the storm.

The first mile or so from the parking lot, all you can do is wade through a very sandy road until you get to a better trail. When were were about halfway through this part, an old 90's model Chevy diesel pickup rolled by us. They had a very, very generic magnet on the door that said something like "Game Control." No actual government markings, these were definitely just random guys. They kept asking where we were headed, how long we were going to stay, if we were alone, things like that. We were as vague as possible, even lying about a few details.

Eventually we shook them off and hiked on (we had no choice by this point). We got to the first camp, and decided to set up our tent around the bend a ways, not where the designated spot was. It was nearly dark, and we were racing to get the tent setup before the storm hit. Her dog started freaking out and ran off. This is a very trained and obedient dog, so this was strange. This dog NEVER runs off. My girlfriend started chasing after the dog into the darkness with no light, so I chase after her to keep everyone together. Eventually we find the dog, get back to camp, and get in the tent about 30 seconds before an intense storm started.

Around 2am, we heard a diesel truck pull up very near our camp. I'm a big time car guy - I can tell you it was definitely that same Chevy diesel. I was clutching my 6" buck knife, ready to slash through the tent and initiate all murder/rape prevention sequences. About 10 minutes later, the truck took off. I assume they couldn't find our tent.

I don't know for sure that they were looking for us, but I am fairly certain. We were the only hikers in that park, and they could definitely assume we were at the first camp, because of the previous pending storm we were clearly trying to beat. Also, my girlfriend is a looker. I pretend like I didn't see the dirty looks in their eyes when we first encountered them, but I know I did. Had we set up camp at the designated spot, it might have gotten ugly. Still gives me goosebumps thinking about that night.

W.H.

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