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  1. #1
    Senior Member Cyclebum's Avatar
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    Your Scariest Camping Experience?

    A bud and I were camped in some woods in Oklahoma. We'd been in our tents for a few minutes. I was on the phone with my wife. Suddenly, the wildest, loudest, screeching we'd ever heard commenced, seemingly from just a few feet away. Continued for a minute or two. Neither of us had ever heard anything like it before. Or since. Wildcat, Screech Owl? IDK.

    Another adrenaline attack was when I poked my head out of the tent on a New Mexico mountain top to see a 'wolf' starring at me from about 20 yards away. Turned out to be a lonely, hungary, very shy German Sheppard. We shared supper and he slept at the head of my tent.

    Addenda: I forgot about solo camping on an Indian Res in SD in a run down, remote park and being awakened at 2 am by *** fire from the nearby dirt road. That was scarier than the screeching animal. The firing went on for about 15 minutes. I could hear kids talking. Thankfully they never came into the park.
    Last edited by Cyclebum; 10-26-12 at 03:24 PM.
    The bicycle is one of the great inventions of mankind. Delights children, challenges young men to feats of daring, and turns old men into boys again.--Me

  2. #2
    Heretic Caretaker's Avatar
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    Thunder storm in the middle of the night in the Landes south of Bordeaux.

    I'm sure the lightning struck my tent. There was a weird smell of melting fibreglass pole.
    History is the future

  3. #3
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    Oh boy! Lightning... twice. The first was at Gold Eye Lake in the Canadian Rockeries just before we got married. Machka was sick as a dog with food poisoning, too. We had seen lightning on ridges way in the distance, and it was a calm, dry night. We dozed off to sleep... then came the shooting, searing cutting sound and a huge blast. I woke up and sat up in one motion with my eyes closed, but with vision of the bolt through my eyelids. We poked each other to see if we were still alive. We checked next morning, but couldn't find any evidence in the trees around us.

    The second was just two months ago in Luxembourg. This was during a full-on thunder storm with rain, but it still scared us when it happened almost to the same extent as the Canadian incident. It was enough to blow out the campground's internet system.

    Wild pigs are a problem in Australia, and their rooting up the ground is very destructive. But worse still, the boars can be very aggressive. I arrived in Alexandra, Victoria, and found a free campsite on high bank above a river about 5km out of the town. I settled in for the night, then heard a snorting sound that to me only could mean pig. And it wasn't where pigs were farmed. I lay really still for the longest time as the animal made its way to wherever it was going; I was afraid it might spook and attack me in the tent.

    Later I inquired about wild pigs in the area, and was told there weren't any. But I was told koala bears make a really weird noise like a pig, especially when the males are looking to mate. Most of you know what koala look like, and they aren't big at all... and quite timid.

    Koalas 1; Rowan 0.
    Dream. Dare. Do.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Rob_E's Avatar
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    Spent a sleepless night in high winds that I thought was going to blow my hammock tent over, and which was also occupied imagining which sounds could be attributed to the wind and which could be the bear the owner told me had been seen at the campground. Every noise had to be wind or wildlife because no one else was camping that night. I finally decided that worrying about bears was silly, and the weather was only going to get worse, so as soon as there was enough light to see by, I hopped out of my tent.

    I had told myself that the weather would even keep the bears from foraging, which was silly. I had told myself that a bear who realized there was a human nearby would beat a hasty retreat, which was just wrong. I told myself that with the average black bear being around 200 pounds, I actually had a better than average chance of matching the bear's weight, which would hopefully mean I would seem more like a threat than a meal, but bears don't study probability or statistics.

    He wasn't too close, but he wasn't nearly far enough away. A braver person might have paced off the distance after the fact, but if I were that person, it wouldn't be my scariest camping story. I saw him, some yards down the edge of the pond, looking at me, and not looking like he was about to turn tail and run from the scary person. And why should he? He had to be at least 300 pounds. Against the advice of any guide to bear encounters, my first instinct, apart from screaming and running away, which I resisted, was to get a picture. Shaking and hurrying before he ran away, I dug into my bags for my camera. It was tricky because I was trying to keep one eye on the bear. Worse then him not sticking around for his photo shoot would be him leaving without my knowing where he had gone. Camera out, shaky picture taken. No checking to see if I got the shot (lousy shot. I'll try to post it.) because now I had gone from worrying that he might run away before I got my camera out to worrying over the fact that he did not seem inclined to run at all. I was standing on a picnic table to give myself extra height, in hopes that it would balance out the 100+ pounds the bear had on me. I said in my best bear-calming, I'm-in-control-and-certainly-not-about-to-wet-myself voice, "Okay, that's enough. It's time to move along." The bear had pretty much been still from the time I first saw him watching me, but once I spoke, he finally got his bulk in motion. At the sound of my voice, he started ambling in my direction. I still had the camera in hand, so I turned the flash on and took another picture, hoping that it would startle him enough to send him on his way. No, the flash just became one more curiosity to be investigated. Full-on panic mode, there was no where to retreat to, and the bear, while not acting aggressive, was definitely acting curious and completely intimidated. I clapped my hands together once, to make as loud of a noise as I could, and said, "Go!" I've only met one bear, so I'm no expert at interpreting bear body language, but he again/still failed to show any signs of concern that I might be any sort of threat to him. He did, however, stop moving forward. He seemed to be saying, "While I am in no way frightened, I grow bored of this, and will take myself elsewhere." He slowly turned towards the trees and walked out of sight.

    I broke camp in record time in spite of constantly checking for the return of the bear. I had said I would stop by for coffee with the camp owner, but it was far too early, and my desire to linger had been chased away. I called a couple of hours down the road to say that I would not be stopping in, but thank you for the offer. She said be sure to tell your friends about us. I certainly will.

    Bear.jpg

    Close to the tree line, under the corner of the flag, is a vaguely bear-shaped blob. I'm sure there are special settings for low light conditions, but I'm sure I wasn't of a mind to explore camera features. And image stabilization can only do so much.

  5. #5
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rowan View Post
    Wild pigs are a problem in Australia, and their rooting up the ground is very destructive. But worse still, the boars can be very aggressive. I arrived in Alexandra, Victoria, and found a free campsite on high bank above a river about 5km out of the town. I settled in for the night, then heard a snorting sound that to me only could mean pig. And it wasn't where pigs were farmed. I lay really still for the longest time as the animal made its way to wherever it was going; I was afraid it might spook and attack me in the tent.

    Later I inquired about wild pigs in the area, and was told there weren't any. But I was told koala bears make a really weird noise like a pig, especially when the males are looking to mate. Most of you know what koala look like, and they aren't big at all... and quite timid.
    The raccoons here can sound amazing like a large boar. That includes deep grunts and squeals as well.

  6. #6
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Unplanned ice storm. I was doing a back country MTB trekking trip and was up in the Uwharrie Forest in NC. Weather forecast had called for cold rain, but apparently the cold front moved a bit faster than forecast. I was camped in a pine forest and spent the night listening to the limbs crashing all around as the weight of the freezing rain brought them down. Had to walk a fair ways out the next morning to get past several downed tree tops.

    Aaron
    Webshots is bailing out, if you find any of my posts with corrupt picture files and want to see them corrected please let me know. :(

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  7. #7
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    I don't normally find camping frightening, not that it couldn't be. I remember one night about a mile from some high cliffs, with the most spectacular lightning, though I never really thought the lightning would hit us. It was not merely hitting the cliffs, and it was all around us, but it is still a low probability event. Recently while in our house a large ash was hit by lightning, and it blew a vertical segment of the trunk away. It would have killed anyone nearby, but the explosion was highly directional, like a claymore. I guess that is the main reason they say not to shelter under trees.

    Other than that, just a lot of footfalls and animal calls. But while there are bears and wolves, I don't normally expect trouble.

  8. #8
    Member CarolynBikesUSA's Avatar
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    Stealth camping on an abandoned property during a thunder-and-lightning storm. Didn't help that it was my first stealth camping experience, within the first week of my first bike tour, and I was all by myself.

  9. #9
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    I thought that this was a cowboy-type legend, but a warm evening turned into a very chilly night, and in the morning under the tarp with me was a live rattlesnake, on the pannier maybe two feet from my face. I had stayed up till midnight in town and then gone to bed without using any lights. The snake was too cold to react when I threw a shirt over it, but I went ahead and crushed its head. This was while stealth camping in California chaparral.

  10. #10
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    Flooded campsite in Bavaria , and live ***** fire in the hills over me

    in the Belgian Ardennes

    were certainly out of the ordinary..

  11. #11
    Hot in China azesty's Avatar
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    In Qnghai province in China, over 3000 m high, stealth camping on top of a ridge above a road cutting. I was in my tent by myself, with a couple I was riding with in their tent next to mine.

    Woken up at 1:30 am by the very loud barking of two Tibetan mastiffs. These are huge dogs.

    They came closer, barking all the time. I had slipped out of my sleeping bag and grabbed a knife, and heard Christian do the same next to me.

    The dogs came right up to the tent and sniffed, we didnt move or make a sound. Then they went away. Very scary.

    Was asleep in 10 minutes though

    z

  12. #12
    Senior Member saddlesores's Avatar
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    at the start of an around-oz tour, very first night camping in queensland.
    kept up late by the noise of wild boars foraging.
    awoke to see interesting shadows on the tent above me.
    turned out to be half a dozen pie-plate sized tarantulas
    camped out atop the tent.

    i hates spiders.

  13. #13
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    A tornado in the Appalachians near Salisbury, Connecticut. It's hard to describe the sound and nighttime makes it even scarier.

  14. #14
    Senior Member Thulsadoom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cyclebum View Post
    A bud and I were camped in some woods in Oklahoma. We'd been in our tents for a few minutes. I was on the phone with my wife. Suddenly, the wildest, loudest, screeching we'd ever heard commenced, seemingly from just a few feet away. Continued for a minute or two. Neither of us had ever heard anything like it before. Or since. Wildcat, Screech Owl? IDK.
    I've had that happen. I was in some dark woods and heard a scream right around dusk, but it was off in the woods a ways. I figured it was a one time thing. About midnight it started screaming within just a few yards of the tent. I went outside and shone my flashlight around and I could see it's eyes occasionally through the trees as it circled me and kept screaming like a demented child. Pretty sure it was a bobcat that wasn't too impressed with me camping so close to it's den. Kept me up pretty much all night.

  15. #15
    Senior Member simplygib's Avatar
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    Several.

    1. Sitting at my Middle Fork American River (near Auburn, California) campsite reading a book in early evening, suddenly there are 5 or 6 rapid fire gunshots. A few seconds later two teenage girls sprinted toward me with panicked looks on their faces yelling "HE'S SHOOTING AT US! HE'S SHOOTING AT US!" I bolted out of my chair and grabbed my keys, fumbling with them to get my truck unlocked so I can get myself and the girls out of there. As soon as I got the door open, by pure coincidence, two rangers pulled into the campground on a routine check (this was a primitive camp with no rangers or camp hosts stationed there). We flagged them down and later they apprehended the shooter. He turned out to be a drunk camper firing wildly at nothing in particular from a nearby campsite. He was carted off to jail without incident.

    2. At the end of a week-long wilderness rafting trip in northeast Oregon, we returned to the put-in for a final night of camping before heading home. While setting up our tents on a warm summer evening, suddenly we heard thunder. Within minutes we were in the midst of 50-mph winds, torrential rain and lightning. We all scrambled inside our tents and tried to hold the tent poles in place as the wind tried to flatten our tents. In ten minutes it was all over. Two graphite tent poles had been snapped in half and my rain fly was caught in some trees a hundred yards away. Everything was soaked. Many trees were downed in the area, and branches were scattered everywhere. I was very thankful we had set up our tents out in an open grassy area. We ended up in a motel that night.

    3. A bit off topic since this wasn't actually during a camping trip, but it is bike-related. I was driving to a friend's house in Idaho prior to a tour on the Coeur d' Alene trail. As I drove into a strong thunderstorm on a rural deserted two-lane highway, my bike rack broke and my bike hit the ground at 65 mph, but was held to the back of the car by a cable lock. I pulled over and spent the next half hour trying to repair the rack while lightning repeatedly struck the ground on both sides of me, within a quarter mile. I kept running back inside the car and trying to wait out the storm but it wasn't moving on fast enough, so I'd venture out again hoping to get the bike secured enough to at least drive out of the storm. Probably not the smartest thing I ever did. Luckily, I finally got out of there unscathed. Scared the snot out of me though. The bike was fine other than both wheels bent up and one pedal destroyed. One wheel was able to be trued, the other had to be replaced.
    Last edited by simplygib; 10-27-12 at 01:11 PM.

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    Camping in a campground in Germany when a sudden wind came up while I was in the tent. It also rained so hard that my partner was left under a veranda less than 10m away but unable to dash for the tent without getting soaked. I was left inside the tent trying to support the tent poles from bending close to the floor as the wind gusted (it was a tunnel tent with 3 poles). It lasted less than 10mins but the danger was of being blown tent and all into the lake just metres away and unable to exit the tent.

  17. #17
    Senior Member zandoval's Avatar
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    Our 5 man military Stick bivouacked in a wadi in 1970s South Africa - Monsoon type rains brought mud slides before the dysentery hit us...

    Still don't know how we got out...

    Thank you US Navy...

  18. #18
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    On the Missouri River in Montana in 1988, at the height of the big fires that year. It was bas enough that the State shut down all wilderness activity a couple of days after we put in on the river, but we had no way of being notified. A huge black cloud blew in, looked like a thunderstorm, but turned out to be thick smoke and ash. We pulled up camp in a rush and moved to an island in the middle of the river in the hopes that a moving fire wouldn't jump the gap, and spent a nervous night listening to coyotes howling on all sides, a beautiful, beautiful sound.

    Got up the next morning with our gear covered in ash, but no fire, and the rest of the trip was great.
    My speculation was that it applies to some degree in cycling, and I used the previous proof as my reasoning, but I can't prove how exactly it applies to it and to what degree. That, I have admitted, is speculation based on reasoning, but not at this point provable.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thulsadoom View Post
    I've had that happen. I was in some dark woods and heard a scream right around dusk, but it was off in the woods a ways. I figured it was a one time thing. About midnight it started screaming within just a few yards of the tent. I went outside and shone my flashlight around and I could see it's eyes occasionally through the trees as it circled me and kept screaming like a demented child. Pretty sure it was a bobcat that wasn't too impressed with me camping so close to it's den. Kept me up pretty much all night.
    Common barn owls let out horrifying screeches, and I swear they do it on purpose as they swoop over your head in the dark...

  20. #20
    Shaven Sasquatch crashmo's Avatar
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    Man, you folks are inspiring me to load up on bear spray, or 357 magnums, or something.

    Some friends and I were camped out on the outskirts of Laramie, Wyoming, which happens to be my hometown. We were in our teens, and perhaps ... psychotropically enhanced this particular night. The University farm was next door, and for some odd reason there had been experiments done on cows and calves, where they weaned the calves way too early to see what the reaction from the mother cows was. As the night wore on, the cows were incessantly mooing. There were moos coming from the left, moos coming from the right, moos coming from the center of the universe. Nothing but moos. Loud moos, quiet moos, the smell of moo. It was too much. We resolved to go quiet these cows with cottonwood branches, if that's what it took. As the four of us climbed over the fence "Stand By Me"-style, we were saved by the bell. My friend's mother called from the house that a storm was blowing in and we should all come inside. We aborted mission and went back to the tent.

    As the storm blew in, we were too errr concerned to go inside the house, so we hunkered in the tent all night, talking about how the cows were probably going to eat us. Lightning, hail, crazy winds, and still loud moos ensued. It was the weirdest and craziest thing I've ever experienced.

    A few years later, the same group of us were in Savage Run Wilderness Area, which is part of the Medicine Bow National Forest, and came upon a mother moose and several babies. We turned tail and ran, and Laurel/Hardy style ran right into a large black bear and some cubs. We did a T-formation NFL style "get the hell out of dodge" move, and ended up laying awake all night in the dome tent. I remember a splashing in the beaver pond about 3am, and my blood ran cold.

    I've since moved away from Wyoming, mostly for all those reasons.

    Incidentally -- sleeping in my hammock last night out here in the GA woods, I had several bats circling me. It is not a pleasant feeling to have bats around. Not sure why, but it isn't.

  21. #21
    Senior Member 009jim's Avatar
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    In Bougainville Island 1984 we were climbing up a volcano. Base camp was at 6000 ft. During the night when things got quiet, we could hear the sound of rocks and molten lava grinding and churning in the ground underneath us. It wasn't really scary because a number of others had done the same climb, but it was enough to make me realize that you don't mess with a volcano.

  22. #22
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    Hearing the sound of a vary large bull moose working its way thru the forest towards your campsite on a moonless night at about 2am while the bull moose is looking for love.

  23. #23
    Senior Member Doug64's Avatar
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    Not the "scariest, but one of the more exciting camps while on a bike tour.

    Juntura, Oregon (eastern part of the state)


    Severe windstorm (+60 mph) hit, blowing over several large trees in and around the campground. The wind also caused a lightening ignited wildfire to "blow up" and burned across the highway about 2 miles from the town,


    closing the road for the entire night. It was like a huge party. This small cafe also stayed open most of the night to help the stranded travelers. That is not fog, it is smoke! Our little tent held up well.


    This was one of our "scariest" camps. We were stuck near the top of Mt. Hood (Oregon) in a storm that reduced the visibility to near zero, a whiteout condition. It wasn't too bad until about midnight when it became really quiet. We thought the the storm and high winds that had plagued us for several hours had finally quit. Trying to stick my head out of the tent door to see what was going on, I found the tent sheathed in about a half inch of ice, and the wind was still hammering us. We would wake up periodically and beat on the sides of the tent trying to keep the ice from building up. Usually ventilation is not a concern in a tent; but in a situation where the tent becomes sealed by the ice, the oxygen inside the tent could drop to dangerously low levels. Between the condensation freezing to the inside of the tent and the cloud layer freezing to the outside of the tent, that thought crossed my mind. There really was not much actual danger. It is just the feeling of being very small and the uncertainty of waiting things out. We did beat a hasty retreat when the weather finely cleared enough to descend safely.
    Last edited by Doug64; 10-28-12 at 07:15 PM.

  24. #24
    Senior Member robow's Avatar
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    A similar thread from a while ago

    http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...ht=scary+night

  25. #25
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    Summer of 1998 - Beaver Island, MI (northern Lake Michigan).
    I was taking a class at the university biological station located on the island for 3 weeks and elected to camp the entire duration. One evening while socializing around the campfire, you could hear thunder and see lightning approaching. I finished my beer, said good night and settled in before the rain started. That started the longest night of my life. The storm hit the island like a freight train! Rain was beating through the seams of the rainfly and tent. Had to mock up paracord through tie-points inside the tent to drape my towel across to keep from being dripped on. Listened for hours as the lightning crashed overhead, the wind was unholy and trees/tree tops fell around me. I thought about making a dash to a structure but figured it would be my luck that I would be crushed 2 feet outside of my tent whereas laying still would have been safe. I made it through the night but I was tired and soggy the next morning. It took a couple days to learn the extent of what had happened since our connections to the mainland were cut. 120 MPH winds, fatalities and injuries on the mainland, roofs gone, homes destroyed and most of the telephone/electric grid was gone on the western half of MI. I was in a 2-man tent: http://blog.mlive.com/chronicle/2008...through_t.html

    Spring 2001 - Garden Is., MI
    A close 2nd was camping on an island north of Beaver Island a number of years later in early May. Three of us were now working at the biological station and got permission to take 1 of the research boats (an 18' Lund side console) to this other island to camp for the weekend. We were all staying in separate tents. The forecast was good and the run up was beautiful; sunny, warm and Lake Michigan was like glass. Set up camp and started exploring. The next day the wind came up. That night, the wind stayed up, the temps. dropped and it started raining. My gear was solid but one guy's tent filled with water; soaked everything. He was becoming hypothermic by the time he came to my tent in the middle of the night. I had to give him my dry clothes and be creative with anything that wasn't soaked to get him warm. He was starting to lose motor control and get confused. If I could not have got him warm, I would have been looking at sending out a MAYDAY to the Coast Guard with the hope someone would hear it. The next day we were faced with heading back to the mainland in 5-7' cresting waves or waiting it out. Got a weather report on the marine radio stating more wind, more rain, colder temps and bigger waves. We made a run for it and it was scary as hell! I was the driver so I had to feather the throttle so that waves would not swamp us from behind and not drive over the top of the wave in front of us. I still don't know how I didn't sink that boat and kill us all. Fortunately, northern Lake Michigan in early May is about 38-40 degrees F. We wouldn't have suffered long....

    Neither stories are bike related but it could happen on a bike tour.
    Last edited by zanq; 10-28-12 at 11:06 PM.

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