One of my first jobs was in retail at a sports store back in the very early 1970’s. I managed to strike many friendships that waxed and waned as time passed with other employees and sometimes customers.
My department responsibility in the summer was in the camping department. I was the department manager and back then, the mentality was considerably different to how we treated our customers. We were not simply clerks but bona fide sales people. We tended to our customers; we knew our products and catered to our customer needs.
I developed a friendship with one customer who came in to buy a tent and he was impressed with my knowledge base. He recognized I was articulate and admired my passion to make the sale. In short order we were exchanging stories during an unhurried part of the day and became good friends.
During the summer months while college was inactive, he subsidized his income as a tour guide in Algonquin Park in northern Ontario. He led canoe trips hired for his skill in canoeing, backpacking, portaging for extended periods sometimes up to a month and he was highly sought because of his expertise.
Over the next couple of years, we would spend weekends together in Algonquin Park canoeing to some very obscure locations in this immense woodland area. He taught me the importance of hanging your food high in the trees to avoid confrontations with brown bear and other woodland creatures. I always felt safe around him and looked up to him as a true mentor in many areas of my life.
I kept insisting on making an effort to spend a couple of weeks there in hardcore mode. I really wanted to know what it was like when you were forced to push the envelope.
Finally, that time came including the interesting part to this long-winded story. We had traveled and portaged for several days and were at least 20 miles into the park where we first pushed the canoe into the water. I really wanted to camp overnight in a desolate, obscure and unique location and towards the end of the day we chose an island nestled deeply in the middle of a lake with one lone camping spot.
We landed and began unpacking, setting up our tent, making dinner over an open fire and enjoying the night air as the sun began to disappear. That particular day we had only seen one other canoe. We felt completely cut off from the outside world with a sense of what the pioneers must have experienced a century before.
We had just finished dinner when we heard something we had thought we heard many times before. We first thought it was bear because we could hear the snapping of tree limbs almost carving a fresh path like a bulldozer among the thickened forest but we soon realized, the distinct sounds associated were far from a bear.
We were camped in the middle of the island and the impossible was taking place. We heard the charging of an animal starting at one end of the island carving a path towards us with a deafening primal scream and then the acoustics indicated it had transgressed from the far right to the far left of the island all in a matter of 10 seconds. This was impossible. The timber, the underbrush, barely would support 10 feet of travel in that time because of the density.
To our far left ear to our far right ear with a blood curling scream within seconds. Out of my confusion, I looked over to my mentor bewildered. My friends face was softly lit by the roaring fire but his skin was flushed white and never had I seen fear in someone as I did then.
He looked at me, and said, we have to get off this island, RIGHT NOW. We scrambled towards the canoe and furiously almost with intent of saving our lives paddled out one hundred yards away from the island.
For the next 15 minutes we sat off shore listening to WW II as whatever was there seemingly moved within seconds from one end of the island to the other screaming, growling unlike we have ever heard and then all stopped.
Reluctantly we paddled back to our campsite. Hesitantly we left the canoe and walked back to our tent. Eventually we chose to stay and had no altercations over the course of the night.
My friend has long passed to alcoholism a decade ago but before we broke contact and I moved to the USA from Canada, we would revisit that event resonating as if it happened yesterday without any explanation and feeling a sense of fear as if it never left our bodies.
Sorry for my long story. I do not get creeped out but each time I tell that story I have to shake the feeling off.
Edited by EVP, 15 October 2017 - 03:43 AM.