You're out hiking alone. It's dark but you've brought your trusty headlamp with almost empty batteries. Its faint yellow glow barely illuminates the surrounding underbrush but you push on. Hiking stopped being fun a few hours ago and now you just want to see your cars headlights reflected from your flickering headlamp. A branch sweeps up before you and you duck.
"Why is there a branch in the middle of the trail?" You're wondering as you trip over the root. It is suddenly obvious that you're not actually on a trail, and you're not really sure when you last were. You are lost. In the woods. In the dark. But you're knowledgeable and in good shape what's the worst that could happen?
The leaves behind you rustle. You hear movement. Something is coming of an apparent size that loses the bounds of your imagination's cage and lets it run wild. Your weak headlamp only seems to show the darkness more clearly but you can hear the THING approaching. It probably isn't friendly. A smell begins to waft towards you. Whatever is coming is rather pungent. Now your headlamp is flickering from fear. Your strobesque head lamp shows a black snout, dark eyes, and long white teeth as a bear shambles in front of you. Are you in danger? What should you upon meeting this arboreal omnivore?
The leaves behind you rustle. You hear movement. You drop as something that seems to be a pickup truck hits your backpack. Nylon rips and crunches as whatever just tackled into pulls apart the pack you just bought from Sierra Trading Post for 40% Off. Twisting onto your pack you find yourself face to face with the giant, wild, version of grumpy cat. More like angry cat. What do you do next?
Ignore the previous paragraph. It's winter. You're walking/snowshoeing home from a beautiful hike in the pristine mountain wilderness. The clear cold air fills your nostrils as stride cheerfully across the snow covered field, snug in your down jacket and triple pair of socks. You're so happy to be exploring the nature near your new home and can't wait to find out what this area looks like in the summer when a sound shakes you from your daydreams. Was that a "Crunch" or a "Crack"? Definitely a "Crack" you realize as the snow covered surface of the lake you're walking across explodes in a torrent of water in various solid and liquid states. Your last thoughts before this narration ends are of utter cold and darkness as you plunge into the darkness below.
You and your beautiful friend of the opposite gender and an unclear relationship are kayaking. Your Personal Flotation Device is nicely fitted and comfortable as you paddle across the still lake. In front of you their kayak cuts a clear line across the loch's lake's smooth surface. Despite your sore shoulders from the long paddle you feel utterly at peace bobbing along the tranquil lake and dreaming of the cooling wine bottle you have hidden near the cove. This will be the perfect weekend of camping, fishing and exploring. Your companion shouts and motions their fishing pole and you realize that fish, of all shapes and sizes are streaming under your kayak. You've seen the National Geographic videos of schools on coral reefs but you're on an in land lake. This is unbelievable! Just as unbelievable as the dark shape you see from your peripheral vision. Something is pushing the fish, something big. Your thoughts flash back to cold looks of the local fisherman as a glistening black snake coils beneath your boat. A snake with a body, fins and a distinctly unsnake like head. Your partner is shouting but for some reason you seem unable to move as the thing bursts out of the water directly port of your tiny vessel. What do you do?
Your fire flutters almost in tune with the guitar music. Who could ask for a better camping trip? As your friends pass the joy along the campfire you begin a classic song in unison. Your voices merge under the clear night and echo across the empty mountain vale. As the guitar's notes fade and the song ends the echoing remains. Dull. Pulsing. Almost human almost mechanical vibrations seemingly fill your idyllic campsite. One of your brave companions curses and mutters about locals and their off-road vehicles but the scream of your tent mate shows that the visitors are anything but local. Following her pointing finger you notice the dark shape moving below the stars. Something is vibrating its way down from above. Directly towards your campsite. ...
Scenario F for SASQUATCH!
The leaves behind you rustle. You hear movement. Something is coming of an apparent size that looses the bounds of your imagination's cage and lets it run wild. Your weak headlamp only seems to show the darkness more clearly but you can hear the THING approaching. It probably isn't friendly. A smell begins to waft towards you. Your brain scrambles. If it's a mountain lion should act aggressive and prepare to fight the North American relative of Simba. If Balu you should play dead and hope that's the closest you come to eternal sleep. But as the branches continue to rustle and the ten foot tall mountain ape steps into the glow of your headlamp it becomes clear that all those jokes you made over the years about bigfoot hunters were probably not as funny as you thought. As the loping ape-man half human half animal eyes catch yours you realize that the adventure has only begun...
-This post was written by Keese Lane. Keese is a climber, skier and outdoor enthusiast. He is also a freelance writer, blogger and Twitter Ninja behind @SierraTP.