Thursday, December 29, 2016

Scary Camp Story

Many years back, as a teenager, I was out doing something I was not technically supposed to be in a place that I was also technically not supposed to be. For these reasons, that night we were bivouacked in a crudely camouflaged lean-to made out of dead fall and pine boughs. In addition to the fact that we would be in trouble if we got caught, it was the first time that I had ever slept in the outdoors exposed, not in an enclosed tent, etc... I kept thinking of bugs crawling into my ears, squirrels nibbling on my toes, some psycho wandering along (very unlikely) and slitting my throat as I slept, that sort of thing. I felt the exposure very keenly, and had the creeping sensation that I was being watched. It didn't help that it was stone dark out. I mean, I couldn't even see my hand in front of my face.

I woke up either very late at night, or very early in the morning needing to take a leak. Bad. Which was a pain in the butt, because even as keyed up as I was, there was no way I was going to take a pee just outside our lean-to. I was determined to go a hygienic distance from the camp to do my business. Cupping the light from my mini-maglite so that all I had was a dim, reddish glow, I quietly made my way about 25m from the camp. Stowing the flashlight, I unzipped and began to piddle. Out of the corner of my eye, I caught a flash of light. Startled, I pinched off the flow of urine and crouched down, trying to stow my gear. The light I had seen was intermittently visible through the trees, bobbing and weaving, often seeming to come towards me, and then moving away.

Now, the odds that there would be a person or persons out wandering the area at this time of night were perishingly small, unless there was a specific reason. Like, they were looking for trespassers. I figured that they were pretty unlikely to find us in the dark, but that we had better be away in the pre-dawn.

I realized that I would not be able to find my way back without using my flash light. I didn't think that a distant person would be able to see what the light was shining on if it wasn't directed towards them, but I didn't know for sure. However, my only other option was to squat in a pool of my own urine for two or three hours. So, flashing the light only for a second or two, and moving quietly and carefully, I began to make my way back to the camp.

About half way back, there was an explosive crash right beside me. In the light of the flash I could see tree limbs flying, and I was struck on the arm hard enough to bruise. I thought perhaps a shotgun had been fired at me, or something like that. I dropped onto my belly and crawled, light out. Eventually, I butted up against what I could feel was a large fallen tree. I wedged myself under it and pulled handfuls of grass and brush around me.

I huddled there, shivering, until it got light enough to see. It was quiet.The tree I had crawled under was barely as large around as my leg. The lights? The distant highway was now visible in the pre-dawn chill. And the explosive crash? When we checked later, there were deer beds all though the area. I must have startled one.

Sean P.

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