Story Submitted by Oliver Lazenby who sharesh is adventures and other stories on his website Oliverlazenby.wordpress.com
Everyone knows the feeling of being in a warm bed with a full bladder; relishing in soft warm comfort while suppressing a growing need to pee. In a tent, the cold amplifies the contrast between a comfortable bed and the world outside of it. And there are more obstacles – zippers and a need to put on shoes, for example – between you and the bathroom.
That’s the struggle I awoke to early one morning in the Indian Heaven Wilderness, a high volcanic plateau between Mount St. Helens and Mount Adams. I was on a solo backpacking trip while researching my upcoming Hiking Washington guidebook.
I ignored my bladder the first couple times I awoke. But by the third time I knew the urge to pee wouldn’t be cured by rolling over and burrowing deeper into my sleeping bag. I groped around for my headlamp and then went out to relieve myself. I got back in the tent and slept fitfully. I don’t know how much time passed between crawling back into my sleeping bag and being awakened by the shouting – I could have been half asleep for five minutes or it could have been an hour.
My campsite was near the edge of a lake in the northern end of the Indian Heaven Wilderness. The Wilderness is relatively flat and covered in berries, open fir forests mingling with grassy meadows, and countless lakes. After hiking in the day before I explored a few lakes in search of a private spot, but ultimately settled on the first lake I saw. I had one side of the lake to myself. Across the deep blue water there was another couple tents tucked into the woods.
I think the shouting came from one of those tents. It was a man yelling at the top of his voice, “Get out, go now, I mean it!”
At first, a little adrenalin pulsed through my body and I immediately decided to ignore the scream. But seconds later I was wracking my brain for a reason why anyone would be screaming four miles from a trailhead in the early morning dark. The cry was just ambiguous enough to not have a clear meaning. My imagination ran wild. Was someone yelling in their sleep, playing a joke, or trying to warn me of something sinister in the dark forest?
Minutes later I risked giving away my position by clicking on my headlamp and preparing to make a quick escape. I put some extra clothes in the bag that I was using for a pillow and put my wallet in my pocket. Then I turned off my light and waited.
Needless to say, I didn’t sleep much. I would drifted to sleep periodically and wake with my heart pounding after hearing a stick break or leaves rustling. After a while, I decided I wasn’t in danger. But I still didn’t sleep much until the sun came up and I finally dozed for an hour.
When I unzipped my tent to peer across the lake at the other campers, their tents were still there and nothing seemed to be wrong. The sun shined on the lake and birds sang. The smell of ripe huckleberries wafted across the meadow on a light breeze. I felt a little foolish while walking through the south end of the Indian Heaven later that day, passing peaceful lakes and meadows.
I still don’t have a good explanation for the scream in the night. Time turned the memory from a terrifying experience to a funny mystery.
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This adventure will literately take me to Hell and back again. Hells Canyon that is. The deepest canyon in the lower 48. Just like all journeys this one has to start somewhere. Many will say that every journey starts with the first step. I disagree every journey starts with packing. Then unpacking, repacking, then unpacking, looking over checklists and then the final gear pack up. For me this almost OCD process begins many months before a big adventure. I painstakingly and meticulously choose what gear will be taken and what stays behind. I make note of what each piece of gear weighs. I find comfort in knowing everything that I will have with me. For me knowing all of this is my security blanket while out on the trail. Many adventures are just throw stuff in a bag and go however with this one I want to go as light a possible but at the same time still be able to accomidate two completely different adventures. Thankfully I will have plenty of room in the Jeep to haul all of my gear. Many of the other #HellHikeAndRaft crew have chosen to fly. This makes cramming all the gear into bag acceptable for flying a tad bit tricky. I am glad that I have chosen to drive.
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Story submitted by @CanadianVoyage
In the summer of 2011, my husband and I spent 189 days in the wilderness of Vancouver Island, not one night did we use a tent, we slept under the stars. Never have I felt so connected to the universe. Waking up in the middle of the night and gazing at a million trillion stars shining in the black night, it’s one of those stunning visions that takes your breath away and gets imprinted in your mind forever.