I’m at Salt Fork’s Bigfoot Ridge primitive campground, alone and sitting in the dark, my phone and headlamp instantly void of power. My plan to camp in a spot far away from the other campers was now a regret. I continued to sit there, on the picnic bench, just listening to silence, for something. I got up to stir my chow because I’m still famished. Off in the distance I hear a call, not just any call. Noooo, could it be an owl or even a coyote, nope. It sounded like one of BFRO’s sound bytes, clear as a bell. How many you ask? 3. Not one, not two- nooooo, three. Awesome, I figured the kids from earlier were still running around in the dark making all this racket. I was not about to get scared, I was camping and this was part of the fun! I laughed out loud!! Then I heard what I really didn’t want to hear, the inevitable rustling in the dark. I’ve heard plenty of animals in the woods, I grew up in the country and spent a great deal of time out there. This was different. I wasn’t sure what it was. All the hairs on my arms and neck stood on end. I paused, sucking in a big breath and took my awesome lantern headlamp off to scan around- nothing. Oh well.
As I’m scanning around, my toes start tingling, my ankles get tight, my calves stiffen up, knees lock, pelvis sinks and my previously grumbling gut went silent and turned to lead. ‘This is probably not good’, I thought to myself. An overwhelming sense of ‘GET OUT’ crept over me while my tightened lower body suddenly turned to Jell-O. Like half-set, wobbly Jell-O. I bolted up, got my feet under me. Grabbed my phone, both my headlamps and made the slowest procession (EVER) to my car. It was like I was trying to run through molasses. I turned my car on, locked the doors and plugged my phone in to charge it and, HEY, guess what? My phones battery wasn’t dead! The battery life came right back to 40%. Odd, I thought, my headlamp? No, it was doorknob dead. So I sat in my car debating what just happened.
Now, I’m a UFO investigator, I don’t get nerve-wracked, I enjoy adrenaline rushes and I like explaining the rational and irrational. But this was so completely off my map. And I was, in short, mad. Oh, the humanity. I could still hear my fire crackling, smell my meal, and yet, I felt trapped in my car. I texted my friend since I figured my life could possibly be in danger? Maybe? Who knows? He said to leave. Just leave, go back later or leave a note at the ranger office apologizing for being a WIMP and buy new supplies. WOW. That’s not me, I’m struggling to figure out how to put my big kid pants on and go retrieve my stuff.
I waited about 5 minutes, changed the dead batteries and turned my car off. I put one headlamp on facing forward, the other backwards and sprinted back to my campsite. I deconstructed big bertha in about 4 minutes and rolled her up like a pro. Muttering the whole while to the darkness, ‘It would’ve been cool if the music hadn’t stopped’, ‘why did you have to scare the pants off me?’, ‘I’d have gladly shared my jambalaya with you if you’d have asked’. Yes, I felt like the biggest dork on earth, but, oh well. Who was there to witness this? Exactly, no one. Taking my belongings back to the car, I still felt like I was being watched. I started my car again and thought, really hard, I’m going back for my Dutch oven, I do not want to buy another one and it’s a long, (humble pie) drive home. I grabbed the little rug I’d brought to keep my boots on, ran back up the hill, grabbed my kettle, kicked out that fire (which was a few coals and ashes by now, thankfully) and ran back, shoving it in my car, jumped in the driver’s seat, and took off. Yes, I felt guilt, I had failed.
I drove back to the lodge to check out the bonfire and hopefully ask if someone had heard or knew about those calls, but no one was there. Instead, I parked in the lot, pulled out my bowl and enjoyed my dinner like a true wimpy car camper. Then I drove straight home.
It was amazing.
1) Don’t camp somewhere strange by yourself during a Bigfoot conference.
2) If you do camp somewhere strange by yourself during a Bigfoot conference, have cooler and more amazing equipment ready to catch the excitement.
3) When you’re camping in strange woods by yourself in the cold, remember the hatchet and a LONG lighter.