My eyes were open, but all I could see was darkness. Pure black.
A vague cloud of charcoal swirled in front of my eyes and I struggled to gain focus. I knew where I was, but I was unable to do anything about it.
I was laying on my back, incapable of movement, and my heart was racing. Pounding, more like it! I was frozen solid, sweating, and scared out of my mind. My eyes were the only thing I seemed to have control of, and even they were failing me now.
I had been in this frozen, pitch black state for what seemed like an eternity, but in reality it was only a matter of seconds.
I had woken in an instant and, before I was even fully awake, knew what was going on. I could sense the danger and smell the rancid breeze before my brain could even realize what was happening.
The situation was this: I was alone, hundreds of miles from civilization, camping in a small one-man tent during a month-long bicycle tour across British Columbia, Canada.
I was in a tent, all alone, in the middle of a vast forest… and I was frozen solid.
From inside my sleeping bag cocoon, I could sense the movement of a large, sulfurous animal making its way through the brush on the left side of my tent, no more than thirty feet away. I could hear the animal’s footsteps as the weight of the creature pressed down on a thick layer of dead leaves and soft earth.
I’ve spent more than a decade camping in remote locations all around the world, so I’ve heard large animals moving through the forest at night. I’ve seen deer, moose, elk, bear, racoons, wolves, bobcats and even mountain lions. But this was nothing like those other animals. This thing was huge, was clearly walking through the trees on two massive feet, and it was getting closer to my tent!
Seconds passed, but they seemed like hours. I tried not to breathe, fearing the animal might hear me and come closer to investigate. But in the back of my mind, I knew that whatever was out there was already well aware of my presence.
I hoped that the creature would get bored and eventually go away, so I tried to slow my breathing and I waited.
The stillness is what scared me most. The forest was so quiet. Unnaturally quiet. There were no singing birds, no critters crawling. The wind wasn’t blowing and the nearby brooks were silent. All I could hear was my rapid heartbeat and every slow breath.
Then, just as I thought I might have been imagining the entire thing, a branch cracked and there was a quick shuffle in the brush on the left-hand side of my tent. That’s when I realized that this was actually happening!
When I was in 6th grade I had written a two-page paper about Bigfoot. I had watched a bunch of documentaries on the history channel and subsequently became fascinated with the creature. Fascinated… and frightened.
When my father took me hiking through the Sierra Nevada mountain range a year later, I excelled in the wild, but was scared of going off on my own – not out of fear of wild animals (like bear or moose), but because I thought I might run into Bigfoot.
Years later I realized just how silly it had been of me to believe that Bigfoot was a real-life creature. After all, no good evidence for the beast seems to exist. Casts of massive footprints have been taken, and shaky video evidence shows little of any true, living creature.
So, when I grew to the age where I could think for myself, I let Bigfoot go. I traveled the world, spent years roaming around by myself in forests, deserts, and jungles, and never once did I see any evidence for a massive hairy monkey man living in the woods.
That is, of course, until this very moment, when I knew in an instant that something huge was stalking me as I lay in my tent in the woods of British Columbia. I couldn’t yet see the beast, but I knew that it was there.
Still on my back and covered in darkness, I lay listening. Even the slightest movement of the animal could be heard and felt. The forest is funny like that. When you’re laying on the ground, you can feel even the slightest footstep of a creature on the other side of the forest. The earth moves and you can feel it. And I was on high-alert, so my body was picking up everything.
That’s when the creature moved again. There was a loud crack in the brush and my heart instantly began fluttering. It was like going from 60 to 110 in a millisecond. And all it took was a single step by an animal no more than 20 feet away away from my tent.
One step is all it took. That’s all I needed to shock me back into my reality. I was completely alone, trapped inside my sleeping bag, laying on the ground inside a thin layer of tent, and I had no way of defending myself.
I had a knife in one of my panniers, but in order to get the knife I’d need to first unzip my sleeping bag. And even if I could do that without attracting the attention of the animal, I still had to find the knife inside my panniers, crawl out of my tent, and prepare to put up a fight. The odds were against me.
So instead, I just stayed where I was and listened.
The silence is what made this experience so frightening. The animal would take a step, sometimes two, and then it would just sit there and not move. And we’d both be listening. Me listening to it… and it listening to me. And when one of us moved, the other would too. I’d take a deep breathe or shift my body just an inch or two, and the creature would move forward, one slow step at a time.
A few minutes passed, but it felt like an eternity. I could tell that the animal was getting closer. It’s stench was horrific, but its presence was even more frightening.
Even though I couldn’t actually see the animal, I could feel just how big it was. The earth rumbled in a slow, almost monstrous tone, each time the animal moved one of its feet and laid them to rest in the leaves outside my tent. I could smell the wet air surrounding the beast and practically taste the dirt and disease that hung off the creature’s body. It’s filth would be apparent from several hundred feet away… but by now it was no more than ten feet from where I was lying.
It was so close to me now that I could hear it breathing. My heart was racing, my face was dripping with sweat, and I was sure this was going to be the moment my life came to an end.
My whole life flashed before my eyes. I thought about what it might be like for my friends and family to never know what happened to me. They’d have a hard time finding me, after all. I was camped out in the middle of the forest, far from home. I hadn’t really told anyone where I’d be… and I’d hiked back from the main road several hundred feet. It would be weeks or months before anyone found my tent and bicycle in these dense trees – let alone my body.
The creature moved forward again and now it was just inches from the outside of my tent. It’s massive form cast a faint shadow on the exterior of my tent and I could see just how big the animal truly was. It was HUGE!!!!!
Even though I had already accepted my fate – I decided to give myself one last chance at life. I wasn’t just going to lie down and die. I was going to fight!
So, just as I saw the animal’s massive hand start reaching toward my tent, I sat up inside my sleeping bag and screamed!
“April fools!” I shrieked. “April fools!”
None of this ever happened to me.
Well, that’s not true. I did write a report about Bigfoot when I was in 6th grade… and I did go hiking in the Sierra Nevada mountain range with my father when I was in seventh grade. And I have spent the last fourteen years camping in forests, deserts and jungles all around the world. I’ve also probably watched every Bigfoot documentary that has ever been made. I love the idea that there might be a big, hairy, monkey man living in the forests or mountains, but I’m a skeptic (about this and a lot of things)… and until I see some good, solid evidence, I simply won’t believe.
Did I fool you though? Did you think I had actually had an encounter with Bigfoot?
I’m writing this text now just so that someone reading the story doesn’t scroll down to the very bottom and look for the obvious end to the story. But let me know in the comment section below… Did you like my story? Did I fool you? Did you forget that today is the first day of April? Have you had a Bigfoot encounter yourself? Let me know… and thanks for reading!
And remember, if you ever find yourself all alone, in your tent, wrapped inside your sleeping bag, in the middle of the forest with a large, hairy monkey man standing outside your tent… don’t just lie there. Sit up and scream!