I decided to go with some friends to this beautiful campground close by last year. We drove the 30 minutes or so to the lake where our campsite was. The trek to the location was somewhat far in, about a quarter of a mile. This made it quite difficult to lug all of the equipment to the campsite. I am very much a minimalist. I enjoy having a tent, a sleeping bag, matches, a hatchet, and gumption. All of which failed me, but I will get there later.
My friend brings a multi-tool furniture contraption that is a sink, a stove, a wrack for dishes, and a waste disposal. This, as you can imagine, weighed a ton. It took us around 30 minutes to get everything set up. I put my tent together in no time, situating it near the clearing facing the water. It was beautiful and blue, shimmering with the setting sun. I wanted to watch it each morning as the yellow rays crept over the gentle ebb and flow of the water’s motion.
Chad puts his tent up rather quickly. It is a one-man tent. He has all the bells and whistles: sleeping bag, inflatable mattress, in-tent warmer, three fleece blankets, and three pillows.
“Nice hotel,” I scoffed.
I am man! I went to the woods to chop wood and fish. To scour the land and rough it. The thought of having “amenities” was deplorable. Plus, why the heck would someone need three blankets when it is 80 degrees out?
Juan was unfortunate enough to not have a tent. Chad gave Juan his spare tent, which turned out to look more like a coffin. It was only suitable for lying down. Seven feet long by 2 feet wide by 2 feet high. Perfect for sleeping or practicing being dead, your decision. He put his up with some help and we decided to wander. The day was filled with amazingly uneventfulness. The wood gathered was from a bin near the front for 10 dollars a cord. Most of the time was passed by sitting in silence as the trees swayed and the sounds of nature surrounded us. Nature is beautiful and I love being in it, however, being in a hot forest while bored is not conducive. I walked down some trails, which led to other people’s campsite. We saw each other and the immediate response was, “What the hell are you doing in my woods?” I have no idea why but it feels instinctual to stake claim in wooded areas. “This is my area, that is yours. Keep it that way!”
I eventually find some downed trees and take a stick. You guessed it! Carved wood. I tried to make a spear for fishing. It just sounded right. In the woods, I could only imagine a bigfoot coming out and killing me. Irrational, I know. I admit, I have a flair for looking into paranormal stuff and cryptozoology. Urban legends, folklore, and cyberlore are my favorites as well! (Maybe I should post a few of my favorites…) So, I became obsessed with the fear of possibly seeing a mythical beast. I mean there have been sightings in the area…in the 70s. On top of that, Chad would give little quips about “creepers.” Those people who surprise you or you catch watching you. Basically, a boogeyman in real life. I already have an overactive imagination and had just started reading stuff about the dark net. Not conducive to being in a tent alone.
Night comes and I have freaked myself out. We look up at the stars and they are amazing. Massive out in the woods. I enjoy it but I hear those sounds of the night. Wood creaking and people at campsites in the distance. Guitar carries across the water where a lantern glows. A sound cracks from behind us and we walk over to investigate. Nothing. We go back to the table and talk about nothingness. Another pop followed by thrashing of paper. We shine a light and see a raccoon as big as a medium-sized dog shredding through Juan’s tortilla chips bag. Its eyes glistened a greenish white.
“Hey! Get the hell outta there!” Chad screamed into the night and the little booger ran away. We laughed about it for a while and made sure to secure our food before heading to sleep.
(To be concluded…)