Thursday, October 31, 2019

Super Scary Camping Story - Halloween 2019

I gotta spooky camping story from this summer that fits well with the Halloween holiday this week, and it goes like thissss:

The boy and I were out roaming and hiking along the banks of the Rio before dusk - admiring the massive cottonwoods, complaining about the thickets of willows and tamarisk, marveling at the swooping bats (go bats!). Later we were trying to skip rocks when a large splashing sound in the water caught me unaware, visibly flinching at the sound. Surprised because I hadn't seen any campers in this area, no cars at the pull-in, i'd thought we were alone. Then another loud splash from somewhere around the bend of the river. Definitely not a fish or a bird, this was a very large rock splashing into the river and I didn't care for the unease of this unusual interruption.

We go back to camp, eat our sandwiches and chocolate treats, tell stories, settle into the tent and pore over our books. Kid soon falls asleep. I'm dozing off at some point and then *WHAPASH* the splashing once again. It's dark now and I haven't heard any voices, no music, there's no light in the canyon from a fire. Who in the hell is out there and are they here on our side of the river or the far bank? I don't like having neighbors when camping, in general people are not to be trusted. Thinking maybe I imagined the last splash I then hear it again more clearly this time. Who throws rocks into the river at night? Large rocks. We couldn't hardly find proper skipping rocks on the sandy bank during our walking adventure. Dawns on me just then that a simpler explanation could be a beaver - on the Rio though? Has to be, maybe the guy is setup on one of the side-stream meanders and is just out in the current knocking his tail about. By god I'm a John Muir backcountry genius!

Relief. Beavers are cool, yahoos out lurking in the dark of night are not. I'm lying at ground level in the tent staring into the darkness of our campsite to identify these imaginary rock hurlers and literally right as I solve this first upsetting night-sound there appears in my vision something more unsettling. A silent specter skitters through our campsite - I can barely make it out, it makes no sound - I'm imagining this, my eyes not quite adjusted to the dark after earlier damping my headlamp. No, there's something out there, a black shadow of a thing. Long upright neck, peculiar head, the size of a small dog but seems to move like a crab or scorpion. Just hold up now what in John Muir's madness am I  LOOKING AT!? I'm propped on one elbow, neck craning and eyes locked to the foreground just beyond the thin nylon mesh of the tent. Alien spider heartattack noiselessly flits back and forth outside the tent, my anxiety races toward panic, then it steps past a cloud-dimmed patch of moon light - the extended neck and odd head, it's a tail. Vaguely visible stripe runs along it. Not an alien river scorpion (holy hell that was confusing and frightening) however skunk is not an improvement on the less-than-great spectrum of possible campsite horrors.

I'm now certain this trip will end in magnificent misery. Skunk is sniffing our packs and food bag, it's going to chew through it all, destroy our gear, likely nose its way to the tent and spray us down before all is done. How through the many strange and rapid plot twists did we get to this ordinary but soon to be epic horror show? Skunk leaves the packs and wanders toward the tent, toward me. The animal was a comfortable 12-15ft away, this distance now closed to 3ft. Like watching a fool casually play with a gun and no avenue for escape, unreal that it's going to go down like this. Skunk then silently trots to the kid's side of the tent, noses up close, inches from the sleeping six year-old who surely will wake in fright and trigger this DEFCON-1 shitstorm.

Then - this haunting menace, this ghostly apparition of unwelcome terror - turns uninterested, and vanishes into the brush and darkness of the surrounding forest.

....Happy Hallows Eve....

Related Posts:
 - Grizzly Ghouls From Every Tomb... (2015)
 - Something Wicked  (2014)
 - Trick-or-Treat  (2011)

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