Monday, March 28, 2011

Stalkers and Dollars and Bones

Life moves pretty fast in the wilderness of Kentucky, and if you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it. Then again, even if you don't go looking for adventure, as often as not adventure finds you.

Not long ago, I was hiking in the woods on a crisp windy morning. As I began my sojourn, I passed a nondescript sort of fellow walking out as I was walking in. Blue flannel shirt, pullover cap, short beard. I gave him the usual guy-nod, and he slightly acknowledged with one of his own.

Now, this was in a large open field area just before you reach the dense forest. When I got to that point, I stopped to open my thermos of coffee and have a slug, and looked around. No one in sight.

Yet, about half an hour later, by which time I'm deep in the heart of darkest America, I hear a sound behind me as I'm crossing a creek on half-submerged rocks. I look back, and I'll be damned if that guy isn't right behind me, standing on the other side of the creek, staring at me with a creepy expressionless face. Uh.... dude. Sup?

Think on this: I know he didn't turn around and start following me as soon as I originally passed him, because I had looked back across the open field and he was nowhere in sight, right? So in order for him to get from wherever he was then to suddenly be standing right behind me now, he had to have ran like hell to catch up with me. Not only ran like hell, but also at some point stop running and then silently start sneaking, in order to get that close to me without me having heard another presence in the forest.

So I'm thinking, this guy is either a park ranger or a pervert. Both, maybe? I reached into my camera case and pulled my camera out and the guy took off. Okay. Pervert it is, then.

I watched him flee until he was out of sight, then continued to listen to the sound of his escape. There was a false stop as he must have paused somewhere along the way, then I heard him trudge off on a slightly different trajectory into the distance.

No sooner had I turned around and continued along the trail I was on, than I came upon a folded dollar bill, laying plainly out in the open. The hell? I looked around, felt guilty for a moment for taking something that wasn't mine, but hey, I'm ten miles from civilization in any direction - obviously whoever lost it isn't going to trudge back out looking for a missing George, right? Finders keepers, losers weepers, right? Anyway, a gust of wind could have blown it into the creek at any moment, right?

Oh yeah. Hmmm.

Logically, then, Mr. Watson, we can conclusively deduce that this dollar, however and by whomever it came to be here, hadn't been here for very long. Still uneasy over the creep who was stalking me, I became even more wary about the dollar bill, folded in such a way that the Illuminati's eye in the pyramid was watching me. I felt like Deckard in Blade Runner finding one of Gaff's origami.

Looking back, the spooky dude and the dollar bill were most likely unconnected, of course. Probably just a coincidence that both incidents occurred within 60 seconds of each other, and within ten feet of each other. But sometimes even when a coincidence is just a coincidence, it still doesn't mean the Universe isn't trying to tell you something.

And on the way back home, I chanced upon a gnawed raccoon carcass with exposed vertebrae - and it hadn't been there on my way in on that same path. Probably dropped there by a hawk or turkey buzzard, who are notorious for clumsily dropping bones in flight. I tend to find a lot of bones in the woods, and often save them for art projects. This one, however, I didn't mess with. The buzzard clearly wasn't finished, and might be back to gnaw on this some more. I felt as if I was being watched - perhaps the bird was watching me from a high treetop, telling me "get away from my lunch." Or perhaps that weird guy was still lurking. Either way: predator.

Is there any overarching message to be gleaned from all this? Oh, probably not; maybe just that nature is filled with opportunities, and not all of them are good. Finders keepers, losers weepers.


DH said...

As someone who always seems to be hiking alone I can tell you that's friggin' CREEPY. I hike a lot in Jefferson Memorial Forest early in the mornings after work. I generally do shorter trails just to get done sooner. It seems there is always a noise or disturbance in the woods I can never explain. Bad things can happen anywhere but JMF is in the middle of Fairdale and that's no place to let your guard down. I've been fortunate enough never to have been stalked or harassed in any way up to this point but I do carry my trusty tazer with me whenever I travel amongst the trees. For good measure I have a nice sized walking stick and a knife on me at all times. You just never know.

jerry b said...

this sounds crazy but i often find myself looking for signs .you sir should consider doing the same.

Erin said...

Wow, something about reading your story really creeped me out. I can't imagine what you felt!

enin said...

i had a similar experience in fitchburg digging around for old iron furnaces in the woods. ran into a camouflage clad man with a bow and a styrofoam deer BLARING religious sermons in his headphones. i tried to give the "don't be frightened" howdy to him, i got a bunch of awkward muttering in response. i walked away as calmly as i could, not thinking about arrows piercing my spine.

Tyden said...

Oh My!

Rhonda's Digital Designs said...

Errr where exactly was this? I want to make sure to avoid the creepy guy on my hiking adventures! Although, I have been to the Bernheim Forest geocaching with a friend. We walked into the trail and passed a man on his way out. We did the "good morning" and went on our way. We found our geocache and began our journey back out only to find the man standing next to our jeep. Hmmmm??? We walked past it as if it were not our vehicle and after awhile he went back into the trail. We ran back to the jeep and jumped in and took off before he could come back out. As we were leaving my friend said "What the hell?" And I replied "You think we should check for a tracking device?" LOL

Rhonda's Digital Designs said...

I love this story. Reminds me of the time a friend and I went geocaching in the Bernheim Forest. We were tracking a cache and as we walked into a trail we encountered a man leaving the trail. We nodded and gave a "good morning!" After we found our treasure and left our own trinkets we headed back out. When we came to the opening of the trail we found the man standing next to our jeep. My friend said "What the hell?" I said "Just smile and keep walking past it." So we did. After we continued about 500 feet from the jeep the man returned into the trail. We ran like hell back to the jeep, my friend clicking the door locks on the key ring on the way, and jumped in and peeled out of there before he could come back. The whole time my friend saying "What the hell? What in the sam hell??" About 10 minutes down the road I said "You suppose we should check for a tracking device?" She didn't find it so funny. LOL