Spooky and Scary stories starring Carrot and High-Clip
Well, one time we went to a crag and some sketchy guy pulled out a gun, that was really scary, but that is a story for another time. For now I want to focus more on the SPOOKY!
Every year, myself along with three friends would venture off to Tobermory, Ontario for a few days in the remote wilderness. If you aren’t familiar with Tobermory, it’s a beautiful little town situated at the tip of the Bruce Peninsula. The water is crystal clear, the surrounding areas have great diving, rock-climbing, hiking, and exploring. We were so fortunate to have access to a winsome lea surrounded by acres and acres of uninhabited woods. Each year we would camp in this clearing and call it home for the few days that we were there. The evening sky was intoxicating. The symphony of frogs and crickets were the perfect accompaniment to our bonfire chats. We would see deer, bears, beavers. One of the guys once swore he saw a wolverine (I’m skeptical). Camp was desolate and wild and beautiful.
Our trips to camp usually started on Friday evenings after everyone was off work. We’d have the gear loaded up ahead of time so that when we were off, we could just head out. It was about a 5 hour drive, sometimes longer depending on how much we were harassed at the US/Canada border. And although we were four somewhat grizzled outdoorsmen there was one occasion where we decided that we would just sleep in the locked car because we were too scared to get out and set things up.
We were maybe 4-4.5 hours into our trip, it was nearing 11 PM, the windows were down, the music was blaring, and we were all pumped to pull up to camp, start a fire, and get working on a late dinner. Highway 6, the last stretch of paved road before we’d turn off onto the dirt road that took us to the property, was dark and desolate. We hadn’t seen any traffic for at least an hour.
Our adrenaline was getting higher with each mile marker we passed, the cool summer night air was calling, and we just couldn’t wait. Our high beams worked like a flood light illuminating everything in our path, we were just about to turn off, and HOLY SHIT WHAT THE F WAS THAT???
Should we turn around to see what was going on?
Are you kidding no, just keep driving, PLEASE!
Should we call the OPP?
We didn’t have any cell service even if we wanted to call the cops?
JUST KEEP DRIVING.
We put the windows up, turned the music off, and double checked to make sure the doors were locked. After another thirty minutes of driving in silence we made it to camp. There was a gate blocking the driveway, and we decided to work in pairs. Two would get out to open the gate, two would stay with the car just. I was lucky enough to be driving so I just stayed in the driver’s seat with the engine running and the headlights on high. The gatekeepers were carrying a camp axe (basically a hammer), and a long range golf disc for protection. Luckily these weapons of destruction weren’t needed. We pulled the car into the gate and refused to drive back any further onto the property until daylight was upon us. We didn’t want to witness anything or drive into something that we weren’t invited to. We ate Sun Chips, and passed around a gallon of water for dinner. We armed ourselves with our weapons including the disc, the axe, a pie iron, and a camp knife. Good thing we weren’t attacked, because we would have died for sure!
What exactly was it that had four college age guys trying to sleep upright in an overpacked GMC Jimmy rather than risk going outside?
At 11PM in the middle of nowhere, standing on the side of the road was a clown holding a single red balloon and waving. Waving like he was expecting us. How long was he there waving, I have no idea. How long did he stay after we drove by? No idea. How long until that image stops haunting me? Again, I have no idea.
I definitely can’t top Carrot’s spooky story, but I can tell one that I debunked.
About a year ago this weekend, my friends and I took a trip to The Red. We had quite a large crew that year in particular. We had climbers with a variety abilities and comfort levels. If you remember from In the Spirit of Halloween or Decking, I still have fear sport climbing, and it takes a lot for me to trust my belayer.
As you can imagine, I was not going to let my preferred belayers get lost in the shuffle of this big trip at the Red. I turned down many belay offers that weekend. Anyway, my buddies were working on this 11d, but I wanted to try this 11a next to it first. At this point, my highest flash grade outside was probably in the 10 range, so there was no way some plebe was going to belay me. So, I grabbed one of my good friends and started up the climb.
For those of you who have never climbed with me, I’m an extremely slow climber. Especially outside. I take all the rest I can get wherever I can get it. My belayer was starting to get antsy as she needed to use the bathroom, but she assured me she’d be fine and I should take my time. Thus, I take my time and focus on the send.
This 11a is a bit over hung, and there are a series of ledges you more or less beach whale yourself onto until you make it to the headwall. You better believe I took my sweet time resting on those ledges. Believe it or not, however, I committed to the crux sequence and made it to the headwall no problem. Well, until the problem.
I looked down at my belayer to exclaim how happy I was that I kept climbing through my fear and absolutely demolished the crux of this 11a. I looked down to see she wasn’t there. She wasn’t anywhere. I scanned the whole area (this was a rather long route; I could see a lot), and she was nowhere to be found. Immediately, my stomach drops. Here I am on this tall wall, pumped out of my mind, with my belayer gone. I was certain that she was there belaying me before. How could she just disappear? And why would she leave me to fall straight to the ground where best case scenario I am carried out of the crag with a serious injury? Nothing made sense. Except for the part where I was doomed and delusional, destined to die.
Although my heart was pounding so loud I couldn’t hear and my blood was way to full of adrenaline to think, I wasn’t about to give up. I peep down a little farther beneath the overhang as best I can to see where exactly the other end of my rope was. Indeed, it was attached to another fellow in the group with whom I wasn’t too familiar. Was I crazy? Why would I ask some new acquaintance to belay me on this 11a? Why could I not remember asking him to belay me?
Before answering these questions, I needed to send. Thus, I cruised the rest of the route and came back down like any other day. Then my belay returned, and I got my answers. It turns out I wasn’t insane, and she had asked him to swap belays with her so that she could run to the bathroom. Sure, all of this panic could have been avoided with a quick yell up the wall, but where’s the spook in that?