This past weekend we went camping. The trip as a whole will be another post; this is my story of night number two. We had taken the kids on a couple of decent hikes, fed them, ran them into the ground in hopes they would fall asleep as soon as the sun went down… We got everyone washed up and in pajamas and locked down in the tent just before dark. Jay, the dog, and the two older kids were sleeping in our large six-person tent while Benjamin and I slept in a two-person tent. The thought was that he would be ready to sleep before the other two, so it made sense to have him separate. I brought him into our tent, read him a couple of Sandra Boynton books on my phone, rubbed his back for a minute and he was out. I dozed off here and there for the next few hours and then I heard it: something was moving in the trees surrounding our campsite. It was moving slowly and making a lot of noise. It seemed like a lot of leaves would crunch and sticks would break with each step…not the sound you would expect from a stealthy night creature like a skunk or raccoon or something. I listened for a few minutes as the sound continued around the perimeter of our site. It was basically moving away from our picnic area, which was where I would expect an animal to go. We had put our food in the car, but there could always have been something we missed or didn’t wipe up.
It was coming around to the side of the site that bordered our large tent. The dog was still silent, but that didn’t make me feel any better. I whispered/hissed Jay’s name in hopes of waking him up, but no luck. I texted him hoping that his phone was close and the vibrating would wake him up…nope. Finally I went ahead and called him, hoping that the phone would not start ringing and wake everyone up. At this point the dog starts growling too. Jay woke up just around the time she barked for the first time. I asked him if he heard that (even he couldn’t miss this sound) and he did. He must have thought it was suspicious too, because he called out, “Hello?” No response, but whatever it was kept moving at the same pace. He came out of the tent with his headlamp and walked around. The sound stopped for a second and then started again. He wasn’t able to see what it was and then it was silent. Jay and I sat in the tent for a minute and hypothesized. My thought was that whatever it was moved too well considering how dark it was. I never heard it trip or stumble or walk into a tree or anything. Jay said that those facts didn’t mean anything. He and other Army guys can move through the woods well and not fall or hit a tree. Thanks babe. Totally made me feel better. I went back to my tent knowing there was no way I was going to be able to sleep now. All of this went down around 2:30. At 4:30 I heard it again. Coming from the same place I first heard it. This time Jay got up right away with a light and the dog bolted out of the tent. She ran barking into the trees and stopped. Whatever it was ran off. Let me just say now that thank god it was not a skunk.
Jay said at that point that he was pretty sure it was an animal, even though he wasn’t able to see anything. I’m still not so sure. Considering he had his light and the dog ran right at it and he still didn’t see anything, it seems it was probably an animal that was low to the ground. BUT, it was SO loud and sounded like it was walking on two feet. Maybe I am overestimating how quiet nocturnal animals are, but who knows. Also I discovered in the morning that we had left a bowl of dog food out. I would think that an animal would have been attracted to that…
Our other hypothesis is that it was the boy scouts that were also staying at the campground that weekend. I was a youngster once and know that sometimes when you are in a group of peers ideas come about like, let’s see if anyone can sneak around the whole camp without getting caught. If they were the culprit, then I would say that one of them was semi-succesful. He was detected, but not caught. The other one got chased away by the dog and a Green Beret and hopefully peed his pants.
Whatever it was, it definitely freaked me out.
Other than every night with a newborn I have never been more excited for the sun to come up. Miraculously the kids basically slept through all of it. They also slept until 7:00 a.m., which never happens anymore.