It’s never happened before. That feeling. It built up inside me and was as clear as if someone was speaking directly to me. “Run!” It screamed, and so I did.
This all happened on a trail run up a dirt road that runs beside where our camper is parked. The road continues on a little over a mile before eventually leading into a trail. I had left our camper with Bowie in tow with the intention of exploring said trail a little further. Now I should start by saying I left for this venture towards late afternoon, closer to the evening. Darwin had ventured on another trail, leaving Bowie and I on our own.
Bowie took to the road setting our pace, jumping over rocks and holes that made up the dirt road. We eventually came to the two large boulders that marked the end of the road and the beginning of the trail. We stopped momentarily for a “Bowie Pee” exposed in a clearing after emerging from the forest. We would cross the clearing before plunging merrily into another forest section, having now passed the boulders.
The trees now around me, seemed darker somehow than those just a few steps behind. The sky was only showing the faintest hues of pink, signs of a falling sun. Bowie had slowed not really much of a runner these days, to basically a walk. I followed suit allowing myself more opportunity to explore as we continued. I tried to imagine others who had been this way. It seemed that this trail was one less traveled having a forgotten and empty feeling about it.
The ground to my left slowly began to rise above us. An old barbed wire fence tried to follow along but was slowly overtaken by the forest becoming snarled and eventually disappearing into the brush. I could imagine a wrinkly old man with a rifle peeping through the trees, “Get off my land” he would be saying to those who would pass. “Private Property” he would spit out with a grimace. Maybe this was private property before the forest service came along. Maybe an old man did have a shack up here at one time. I shivered at the thought.
It was at a lingering broken section of barbed wire that Bowie stopped again and I looked back. The trail behind me was dark and full of shadow. The sky now pink and orange more than blue.
“We’ll continue on,” I said to Bowie. “I have my headlamp” and so we did, but as I turned again heading still further away from camp, I was met with a darkness that wasn’t there before. I guess it was more a “dark feeling” then it was a darkness I could see.
“My eyes are adjusting,” I said to Bowie. I did just look back towards a bright setting sun but I could not deny the urge I had to head back to camp. At this point, I tried to get Bowie to run again but she refused, puttering along only fast enough to get to the next interesting smell. The more we stopped, the darker the woods around me became. I began to feel as if the trees were closing in.
Up ahead I saw a rusted signpost and my curiosity pushed aside these dark feelings momentarily. I wanted to make it at least to this signpost before turning back. My GPS watch put us at almost two miles away from camp and the post was only a few hundred feet further. We reached the sign post. It disappointedly told us nothing. Its message had long been rusted over and forgotten. I felt slightly nauseous as I gazed at its distorted face.
“I haven’t eaten enough today, I’m just hungry,” I said to Bowie. But then I felt another urge to be back at camp. I NEEDED to be at camp. I couldn’t deny it anymore, I had the creepies. At this point it was dark enough I felt I needed my headlamp to navigate the rocky sections of the trail. I took two steps and NEEDED to run but I walked…faster.
Then I felt it, almost heard it in my every being “RUN!”. I was so overtaken by this feeling that without hesitation I did take off running, no glances back. Bowie and I hauled ass back down the trail from which we came. A worried thought that Bowie may stop crossed my mind but it just as quickly vanished as she galloped along, showing no signs of slowing. I felt I could’nt risk a look back until we reached the boulders. We somehow would be safe from something if we could only step foot on the dirt road that awaited us on the other side of the boulders. The boulders. Make it to the boulders.
We finally reached the clearing and crossed into the other section of forest. Only when directly behind the boulders, both feet on the dirt road, did I look back. There was nothing. The trees and brush were draped in shadow. As we headed down the dirt road, I shut off my headlamp, I didn’t seem need it anymore. There was enough light still in the sky that wasn’t there before. I could make out the terrain just fine. “Weird” I thought. By the time we arrived at camp my nerves had calmed and my nauseousness had vanished. I wasn’t exactly a hundred percent at ease until Darwin also returned to camp. Together over dinner, I told him what happened on my run and we both just laughed it off.
This creepy trail run happened back in late September when Darwin and I first arrived in the Coconino National Forest. We have since left the area and returned almost a month and a half later. I have visited those boulders where the dirt road ends and the trail begins just after that clearing but couldn’t go further. I literally stood in the middle of the clearing but couldn’t convince myself to cross it. I felt that some looming darkness was waiting for me once I reached the other side. I had a feeling that I couldn’t deny telling me “NO”.
Moral Of The Story: Listen to your instincts, they’re there for a reason! Even though I never saw anyone or anything really scary happened out on this run, I listened to that “little voice” as anyone should do when out alone on a trail, the sidewalk, the parking lot wherever….That “little voice” is there to protect you. Listen to it!
(A Picture From The Clearing On My Second Visit)
Things To Expect In Up Coming Blog Posts/Website Posts And Other Doings:
Check Out My Instagram….The_Snuggle_Diaries
A Book Review/Discussion On Carrot Quinn’s Thru-Hiking Will Break Your Heart: An Adventure On The Pacific Crest Trail – Coming Soon!
Other Posts Written While In the Forest/Camper Life: