Craig Wisner

Alone on the Sespe, 10/14-15/2011

This was a fast, after work getaway that proved to be just what I needed after what felt like a long, stressful week.  I left work at around 2:15, reached the Piedras Blancas trailhead in Los Padres at around 4:45, and hiked in on the river as far as I could before dark.  Nightfall caught me still walking, but I found a nice anonymous site near the river about an hour after dark.  I probably made it in about 8-9 miles before stopping.

The night was spent in typical Bastard Zen fashion; sitting alone, sipping beer, listening to wind in trees, stirring bare feet in the cool sand.  A few IPAs and a sip or two of scotch later and I found myself contentedly drumming and singing well into the night.

I was peeing in the dark was when I heard it- a horrible, guttural, grunting and screaming drifting up the canyon.  At first I thought it was human…but no human I’ve met makes noises like that.  It was a sort of snarling and barking, followed by screams, almost very ape-like.  Needless to say, it froze me in my tracks, adrenaline shooting down my spine.  I stood in the darkness listening intently; it continued for at least 5-10 minutes and then died down.  It ended all sense of fun pretty quickly.

I was gripped with fear and a pretty strong fight or flight urge; part of me considering wandering down the canyon to confront the source of the noise with my knife and a headlamp, the other half strongly considering an all-out running, midnight escape.  Fortunately,  both urges quickly passed, primarily due to too much drink.   I bought two 22oz. bottles of Ranger IPA, planning on only drinking those…but found that I left a half-full 8oz. flask of scotch in my pack from the last trip…and well… I was able to fairly quickly forget the horrid noises and return to song and drumming before bed.

On my new Exped Synmat UL7 air mattress: I’ve been out with it three nights since getting it this October, every one of them filled with comfort I’ve rarely experienced sleeping on dirt.  Worth every ounce.

I was up well before light, packed and well-coffeed (in a feeble attempt to erase my excesses of the previous night), and on the trail before light.  I ran the majority of the way out.

Crisp, cold morning air, running at sunrise in a sweet valley.  What more can I say?

Rockin' the sunrise!


2 responses

  1. Okay so I say it was a pack of coyotes making a kill. Or perhaps the spirit of a indian warrior haunting you for the trespasses of your ancestors.

    October 18, 2011 at 1:47 pm

  2. Wonderful. You’ve inspired me to get off me arse and hit a local trail this week.

    December 7, 2011 at 8:32 pm

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