Sep 18, 2006

There's Something Out There

Having spent the last, um, MANY weeks in the company of lots of people besides just the two of us, Guy and I went backpacking this weekend. We turned down lots of fun things in order to do this--including a midnight showing of Buffy's "Once More With Feeling" at the Landmark Sunshine, which should give you an idea of how much we were looking forward to it.

Shoulda just stayed home.

We were both having respiratory problems--me cold, Guy Maud-Allergens, so the climb up Big Indian Mountain in the Catskills caused some wheezing. But that was nothing compared to how my feet felt. I had bought new insoles, specifically designed for hiking, since my boots don't give much arch-support. Sadly, they made my shoes so small that my feet went numb. And thus I didn't feel the blisters begin until after it was far too late.

This is the size of the smaller of the two blisters:

And you can't see in this photo, but there are little blisters underneath the giant blister. It's cool in a really really painful way.

(For those of you asking yourselves why I brought a tape measure on a backpacking trip, I needed it for the knitting project I brought. Duh.)

But really, it was all fun and games thus far. Yeah, I couldn't really breathe, and yeah, my heels hurt like swear words I won't say, but all that's just the backpacking badge of honor.

I neglected to mention a certain sighting early on in the hike: Guy was ahead of me, and he suddenly stopped. And then he began shouting, "hey there folks, we're just walking along here, you know like you do, and you make lots of noise, cause that's what you do when you're hiking in the forest." I caught up, and asked what the hell he was on about. "I saw something," he said. "Something gray and waist-high." "Oh," I said.

We continued walking, and I now wished I was the person in front, as the mysterious gray thing was now behind me.

So, fastforward to the campsite. The blessedly empty campsite, if you consider how badly we wanted to be away from people. It was just us and the river. For miles and miles and miles. We sat, and drank wine, and generally had a nice evening. We went to bed at about 8 because it was dark and what else do you have to when you're camping.

But when I say dark, I don't mean just lack of streetlights dark. You literally could not see your hand in front of your face. It's a small tent, and I was right next to Guy, but for all I could see him he could have been miles away.

I fell asleep quickly enough though--I was tired from all the coughing and wheezing. But I awoke often, and it never got lighter, and I had more and more trouble getting back to sleep. And finally, sleep was impossible. I couldn't see Guy, I couldn't hear him breathe or move, but I could definitely hear noises in the area surrounding the tent. In trying to figure out why all of this would be, I decided that a man had cut into the side of the tent with his knife, slit Guy's throat--all without my hearing--and was sitting outside waiting for me to wake up, so that he could do the same to me.

I lay there attempting to deal with this worst-case scenario (I would grab Guy's car keys from his dead body pocket, put on socks and wear his boots, and run like mad down the mountain, drive the car even though I don't have a license and find civilization. Of course, if the man was sitting outside, this was all a moot point.)

Understand, I knew I was being ridiculous. And I kept trying to calm myself down. But I've been camping my whole life and I've NEVER had this reaction--I've gotten giggly-scared or mildly nervous, but I was quite honestly terrified. I eventually couldn't help myself--I woke Guy.

Who, it turned out, wasn't asleep. "Feel my hand," he instructed. I tentatively reached out into the blackness. There was a knife in his hand. "I haven't slept either," he said. "I'm feeling it too."

The below is Guy, photographing himself a la Blair Witch:

"There's something out there..."

Come morning, of course, there was nothing. But we both continued to feel the "something" the entire trek back.

Guy just did some research, and while I don't hold with feelings and ghosts and spirits and other mumbojumboy foolishness, I will reprint it here so you can decide for yourself:

"The Rev. J.R. Hoag of Windham told the story of the legend of Big Indian in 1862 to the Recorder and Democrat, newspapers out of Catskill. "Mr. Hoag wrote of a monster of a red man who prowled the neighboring mountains in Revolutionary days and now and then swooped down on the settlements to kill and burn the inoffensive inhabitants.


When the Big Indian killed a beautiful little girl, an old settler grasped his death-weapon and notified his family that he would never return until himself or Big Indian was slain. He shot the Indian as he sat beside his campfire and buried him in a pine bower at the spot known ever since as Big Indian." --From Alf Evers, The Catskills From Wilderness to Woodstock, p.524.


11 comments:

Guy said...

The other story I found about this Indian--his name was Winnisook--is a little less savage-sounding. Apparently he and a white woman fell in love, but she didn't feel she could marry him and instead hooked up with a white guy. White guy treated her terribly, and she stayed in touch with Winnisook, and so one day took off with him. Townsfolk searched for the pair, to no end. However, one day Winnisook came into town to steal a cow or something, and after being spotted and chased, was shot in the heart.

None of which explains the creepy crawly feeling we experienced midway up Big Indian Mountain. Ain't going back there...

Cordelia said...

Yeah, I left that one out cause it wasn't spooky.

The little girl killer is what I saw.

J said...

Wait a second. He "notified his family that he would never return until himself or Big Indian was slain." Is that sort-of like "waking up dead?"

Cordelia said...

Hey, I don't write the legends, I just get creeped out by them.

J said...

It probably meant that he'd return either way ... and now he's returning from beyond!

Awwwfancy said...

My brother carries and sleeps with a knife. I plan to inform any future phantom/Clown/student of this information. Cooooooool.

Awwwfancy said...

To amend my comment...not just any phantom/Clown/student, only those who threaten to attack. I'm not a psycho, I'm just related to one.

washington cousin said...

OK, I am a little wigged out on your behalf. I've gotten that vibe. Ghosties, goblins, and gouhlies...etc, I don't presume to declare they exist or don't. . . I turn to a favorite quote from Shakespeare. "There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in our philosophy." it might be wrong...but you get the drift.

Anonymous said...

Where are Venkman and Spengler when you need them?.

Guy said...

A New York Times reporter may have discovered the solution to your blisters problem:

http://travel2.nytimes.com/2006/09/22/travel/escapes/22hike.html

Cordelia said...

Ack! God no.