Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Trip Report: Weirdos in the Woods

tent in the forest

I spend almost every weekend camping in the woods, usually Red River Gorge in the beautiful Daniel Boone National Forest. I love the solitude of the small campsites along river and ridge lines, as opposed to the crowds at Miguel's or any of the other climber campgrounds. Usually, it's uneventful and quiet. Usually. Can you tell where this is going?

I feel like I should start by saying this is a funny story. Nothing bad happened to us or anyone else. It ended with a lot of laughter and probably embarrassment for the other campers.  But part of me wonders what could have happened in different circumstances.

Let me paint the scene for you. We're sitting in camp chairs behind my car basically tailgating. We're too lazy to carry all the food and cooking supplies down to the campsite and back up again so we ate in the gravel pull-off along the narrow winding road.

It's dark. We're winding down because we have another day of climbing planned. Suddenly, with no flashlight or headlamp, a stumbling man walks up to our car and says, "I need help."

I'm not going to pretend to be altruistic and  kind. My first reaction was "I don't want to deal with this." I assumed someone was injured and we would be making a hospital trip with a stranger.

Then he says maybe one of the weirdest things I've heard in the woods. "I think my friends are going to kill me."

Behind him, we see another person walking up the road. My boyfriend asks "Are you planning to kill him?" The second guy throws up his hands and informs us that he is not planning to kill anyone.

After much coaxing, the two men admit that they're high. The first man who stumbled into our tailgate ate an edible, wasn't used to it and got extremely paranoid.

He's lucky he ended up in our campsite. Over the past couple of weeks I've though about what could have happened. Stumbling around in the dark he could have been hit by a car, fallen into the creek or down a hill. If they'd been camping along the cliff, it could've been much worse. Many campers, most drunk, high or stupid, have died falling off of cliffs in Red River Gorge. Thankfully, he went back to his campsite with his friends and we ended up with a funny story.

More than just the laughter, that's what stayed with me about this story. If you make a poor choice, like you first experience with an edible, a fun-filled weekend can turn tragic.

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