Tag Archives: camping

On Camping

So I’ve just returned from one of our trips to my friend Graham’s farm. Outside of spooky noises and finding bear droppings close to our camp (turns out we camped near a game trail) not too much spooky stuff happened.

I told stories of Skinwalkers, the Wendigo, and Black Eyed Children around the campfire as I’m expected at this point to do. We listened to some music and chatted, but we mainly relaxed.

It’s funny, but stomping through the woods with a full pack, or chopping wood for a fire, well it sucks, but it’s also so very relaxing. I was isolated from technology for two days and realize I needed the break.

However, that’s not what inspired me to write this post. What prompted it were some of my thoughts on camping and safety. It seems so strange to me that we think of tents and tarps as protection from the unknown. I know that I’m sitting in a room made of material thinner than my t-shirt, but for some reason I feel safer than exposed. Could be an ‘I can’t see you, you can’t see me,’ kind of thing, but it still interests me.

After talking about malevolent creatures that can only come in if you invite them, I questioned my friends as to whether or not tents counted as your property when set up. Does it count as a home, and would it keep out traditional vampires, or Skinwalkers?

The general consensus was yes.

Even in the deepest of the wild we still cling to notions of home and safety; that there are rules to be followed. It pops up in my stories, and in our interactions with nature.

One of the brighter spots of the trip was our hike into the woods themselves. We just followed a game trail and came upon what felt like abandoned hunting blinds every 500 feet. In one of them, a big fat porcupine had chewed out a corner to squeeze in and make a home. We were able to peek in and take a look without being in any danger, or endangering the animal. It was a neat little up close encounter with nature that wasn’t the normal deer or coyote we generally run into.

Unfortunately our hike was cut short by the sound of gunshots somewhere deeper into the forest, so we returned to our camp.

One interesting thing I noticed is that we all settled into roles. We had a guy who made fire, the guy who organized everyone, the guy who chopped firewood. I still don’t know what my role was, maybe the storyteller, maybe the comic relief, I have no clue.

So, even though we huddled in the firelight, and listened to voices in the forest from a cabin somewhere beyond our property, we had a great time. A lot of work, but a lot of relaxation.

Still, night-time brought that familiar feeling out in all of us. That fear of the unknown. The fear of what may be lurking in the dark. Of waking up the next morning and seeing how close deer had bedded to our camp, or how coyote droppings were only twenty feet away from the furthest tent.

That’s why we go though, to see things and experience what most people don’t care to, and for just a moment, be irrationally scared before we head back to civilization. Just for the relaxation, yet also the rush.

Post-Michigan Trip

So me and the boys got back from our Michigan trip on Saturday. We were winter camping in da’ U.P. until someone (this guy!) got food poisoning and caused us to leave a day early.

Only creepy thing to really happen to me was when we got there we found bear tracks (it IS black bear country). So 1:30 AM when I wake up sick the first night, I hear something move through our campsite. It wasn’t the wind, because I could hear it move from point to point slowly, like it was exploring.

I was lying in my sleeping bag, very warm but nauseous and with a pounding headache. My rifle was lying next to my pack inside the tent, and all I could hear would be some of our outside gear move. The metal cookware drag, yet all of the food was untouched the next morning. Even the stuff just sitting out. Then it stopped, and was replaced by the wind and normal rustling sounds.

There was no fingertips on the tent fabric or anything like that, but what scared me was the lack of any animal footprints surrounding the site. So it’s either a magic bear (most likely explanation), my sick fever brain imagining things, or the Wendigo, since I chose earlier that night to tell stories about it. So, I tell stories about the Wendigo and get sick from the meat I cooked. Seems too much to be a coincidence to me…

The fear of winter

I set a lot of my horror stories in the winter.

That’s not intentional, it’s just something I noticed today. I love spring and summer. The vibrant greens and signs of animal life and growth just make me happy in the most basic of senses. A lot of people love autumn, but the dying trees and cold just remind me that winter is coming. Yeah I just did that.

Continue reading The fear of winter

The Bachelor Disaster: The Gods demand a sacrifice

As promised, the second part of Bachelor day! Much less scary than the first, but still entertaining.

However, I did have another creepy thing happen today. When coming back inside from taking Bailey out I heard the toilet cistern refilling from the guest bathroom. No one else is in the house. I am assuming and hoping it is a slow leak that caused a flush.

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I was married in September of 2012. Earlier in the summer, my best man Graham  and other best friend Mike surprised me with an awesome idea for a bachelor party. The three of us have been outdoorsmen for a while. We grew up together in Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts, regularly go camping at Graham’s farm, and recently did a backpacking trip into a wilderness reserve in Indiana.

We have fun making our bodies hate us.

For my bachelor party they wanted to plan something special. They wouldn’t tell me what it was in advance, only that I needed to bring formal wear, camping equipment, video gaming stuff, among other things. The only things they told me not to worry about was any paintball clothing or target shooting gear. I spent the night at Graham’s apartment and they finally told me: put the formal wear in the car, and grab your camping gear. We’re hitting the river at 11am tomorrow.

Anyways, the idea was for us to go canoe camping along the Wisconsin River. Now, if you’ve never gone canoe camping, the gist is you get dropped off at a departure point by a rafting company, load up the canoes with as much beer as they can carry, and then make a little room for camping gear. You then canoe downriver and drink until you find a suitable sand bar in the river for camping. Finally, play drinking games, camp, and the next day canoe to the pick up point.

A group of about 11 guys went with, with myself, Graham, and Mike having the most experience on the water. We divided up 2 to a canoe, and divided up gear among the boats. For instance, Mike and Graham had the keg, so their equipment was distributed among other boats. The last guy took the kayak and carried what he could in the small craft.

My good friend Adam, who was going to be the photographer for my wedding, brought his dog Arwen. Arwen is a total sweetheart but we didn’t know how she would take to a canoe, so I volunteered to go with. After all, if someone should be dumped into the water it should be the bachelor in question right? I gave my gear to some of the others just in case.

So, we somehow jammed way too much beer and camping equipment into 10 canoes and a kayak, and set off. The water level on the Wisconsin River that year was super low. A foot at best from where we set off, and about 4 feet at its deepest. So all the other boats disappear around the bend in the river, and we get ready to set off with Arwen and… she jumps out. Again! Onwards to victory! Wait… where the hell did the dog go? Repeat this a few times and we found our answer to whether Arwen liked the boat. Out on the water she would shift her weight, slowing us down as Adam had to calm her, so I was sure we were going to be the only boat to tip.

Arwen, happy to be on dry land. Copyright Adam Arcus, 2014. http://arcusphotography.com/
Arwen, happy to be on dry land.
Copyright Adam Arcus, 2014. http://arcusphotography.com/

10 minutes. We had been in the boats 10 minutes and Adam and I are paddling like hell to catch the main group. Coming around the bend the first sign something is wrong is the beer cooler floating down the river next to us and lodging itself on a downed tree.

10 minutes.

I see my friends Matt and Lengkimly wading in chest high water trying to drag their upturned boat onto the shore. The other canoes pulled in to help, and one just sat there in the water and took pictures.

Remember I gave my gear away because I was worried about it tipping? I gave them my equipment.

My unprotected sleeping bag, tent, and clothes.

10 minutes.

While I quietly stewed, arms crossed and yelling at the others to help like a cranky Poseidon, Matt did the impossible and fought against the current and saved the cans of Stella, which made me a bit happier.