Scary camping experiences

Specifically for cycle touring subjects & questions
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Les Reay
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Scary camping experiences

Postby Les Reay » 18 Jan 2008, 7:55pm

I’d like to hear from other contributors about interesting or scary experiences they may have had while on the road, especially when camping.

I now rely entirely on my tent when I tour, particularly since an experience three years ago when I got stuck on the Isle of Mull during a wet spell and found that all accommodation was fully booked following the popularity of a BBC children’s programme called Balamory which caused a flood of visitors to the island and a row of ‘people carriers’ outside the youth hostel. On this occasion I was saved by a Canadian cyclist who was towing a trailer with a spacious tent and who invited me to share it with him.

Getting back to the subject of scary camping experiences, this happened to me some years ago while touring through South Africa. I was crossing the Karoo near Bloemfontein and decided to camp in the bush for the night. There were some villages around, so I laid the tent flat and used it as a ground sheet to reduce the chance of being spotted. The night was clear and a bright moon illuminated the scrubby low bush all around, as I settled to sleep.

A noise woke me up - something was moving through the bush a few metres away. I could hear it clearly but every time I lifted my head to try and see it, it stopped moving. An animal was circling me and getting closer, and I had no idea what it was. Despite the moonlight, I couldn’t locate it, though it could clearly see me, and having removed my contact lenses, I was at a double disadvantage.

I pulled the sleeping bag over my head and lay still on my side, listening to it getting closer. What happened next was completely unexpected.

Part 2 of this true story will appear later – I have to pop out now and fix the dynamo on my bike. Did you know that here in Germany, the police can give you a spot fine for riding without a working dynamo, even on a sunny afternoon? Totally crazy!

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Tandemist
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Postby Tandemist » 18 Jan 2008, 10:00pm

Oh No, don't leave us in suspenders !

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Tandemist
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Postby Tandemist » 18 Jan 2008, 10:20pm

I had a strange camping experience on honeymoon.
I woke up in the morning to hear a strange sucking sound.
Turned out to be a rabbit sucking grass outside the tent - but I did wonder what it was at first !!!

bikepacker
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Re: Scary camping experiences

Postby bikepacker » 18 Jan 2008, 10:22pm

Les Reay wrote:I pulled the sleeping bag over my head and lay still on my side, listening to it getting closer. What happened next was completely unexpected.

!


A hedgehog then popped is head into the tent and said: "Is this the way to Armadillo?"
There is your way. There is my way. But there is no "the way".

eileithyia
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Postby eileithyia » 19 Jan 2008, 11:15am

camping in the garden at ballycastle yh meant we had to endure the local drunks going past + throwing stones at the tent, not a pleasant night's sleep with a young child.

Sares
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Postby Sares » 19 Jan 2008, 2:09pm

I did have hedgehogs wander into my tent at night, no doubt attracted by some food in the porch. Rustling around scared them they froze. We left them alone and they ambled out of the tent again. That's the most dramatic camping story, except for the seals.

We were over in a park in Canada, and while walking, heard some very strange noises. My husband thought it was a bear (there are some around there) and started making lots of noise as you are supposed to. I had never heard of bears making noise like that. It turned out to be seals on the beach far below us!

glueman
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Postby glueman » 19 Jan 2008, 2:29pm

Apart from being pitched next to people in charge of a Celine Dion album, the scariest camping story I heard was a fishing one.
A well known angler had been given permission to fish an old, very private country estate water. He rowed out to the small, wooded island casting into darkness then retired to his bivvy. He awoke in the dead of night to hear footsteps round the tent. As the only boat was moored up next to the tent this was a conundrum. His only thought was a deer had swam out and come ashore but he reckoned the steps to be unmistakably human.

He waited for first light before poking his nose out to find no trace of anyone and the only open space in the dense brush was the one occupied by his tent. He scrambled his tackle together, got into the boat and made for home. :shock:

Edit: Thought of another. Cycle camping in the south-west of Ireland on a spit of land next to the sea we kept being woken by the most enormous splashes, seemingly next to the tent. We guesses these must have been basking sharks as the adjacent rocks were on a deep drop off. Most unsettling.

Lawrie9
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Postby Lawrie9 » 19 Jan 2008, 7:06pm

We had a strange camping experience once - we forgot the tent poles!

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Tandemist
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Postby Tandemist » 19 Jan 2008, 8:29pm

I unzipped the inner tent once in paris and a kitten put it's head straight through the gap.
In my shock I just managed a "Hello"!

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Les Reay
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Postby Les Reay » 20 Jan 2008, 9:45am

To continue the story, no, it wasn't a hedgehog.

Whatever was creeping around me was now stealthily getting closer and I held my breath and lay still, even as I felt pressure through the sleeping bag on my leg. The next moment, the damn thing had climbed onto me and then sat on my head! I didn’t move, remaining completely still while the thing sat on me, and we remained thus for some time, I guess about ten minutes but it seemed an eternity. Eventually, having warmed its backside on my head or perhaps like me, was becoming increasingly aware of the absurdity of the situation, it climbed off and slunk away through the bush.

It didn’t bother me any further that night, although sleeping was difficult. In the cloudless conditions, the temperature dropped to minus six and in the morning, the upper side of the sleeping bag was frozen solid. The reflexion of my face in the mirror looked like a botched transplant job. In retrospect, it was a mistake not to put up the tent, as was clear when an hour later, I saw a puff adder at the side of the road.

Strange, the things we put ourselves through!

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Mick F
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Postby Mick F » 20 Jan 2008, 9:54am

What was it? Surely not the puff adder?
Mick F. Cornwall

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Les Reay
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Postby Les Reay » 20 Jan 2008, 10:03am

No, I'm pretty sure it wasn't a puff adder. It was the size of a small dog but definitely wasn't a domesticated animal from a settlement. It remains a mystery!

james01
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Postby james01 » 21 Jan 2008, 10:42am

Camping in a farmer's field in France, I awoke feeling something pushing strongly upwards under the groundsheet . I slapped the groundsheet & heard no more. Next morning I noticed a few fresh molehills near the tent, so I assume it was mole.
Most unnerving incident was waking up to hear a herd of wild ponies galloping towards my little tent.
Worst non-animal incident was camping in a busy surfers campsite & being woken at midnight by several drunken campers driving home from the pub & racing around the site.

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Postby keepontriking » 21 Jan 2008, 11:33am

When wild camping in France I had laid out the groundsheet and crawled into the sleeping bag just as it was getting dark then enjoyed a supper of cheese and red vino. As the moon came out I needed to visit a bush, so got up and went to the nearby undergrowth.
There, just the other side, was a private graveyard with a dozen or so gravestones lit by the moon.
No way was I going to stay. It sent the shivers right through me.

I rapidly rolled up the bag, threw some clothes on and chose another hedge to sleep behind a mile further down the road.

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Postby Auchmill » 21 Jan 2008, 11:43am

I thought you were going to tell us it was a lion which then ate you and you didn't live to tell the tail. :twisted: