Summer was coming to an end. Our restless lives were settling down with the first sights of fall. And before everybody went back to their studies, their jobs, their lives on Monday. It was only logical that everybody who could do something adventurous on the weekend. I got my group of best friends together, and the five of us decided the best we could do was go out camping.
We planned everything during the week so that on Saturday we were ready to go. Everybody was ready for the occasion, and everybody had their respective bag with food, water, clothes, and everything to set up our tents. Miraculously, most of us had some experience with camping, but we just had never camped together. It was the perfect weekend.
We started early on Saturday. First, my friend Pete, the one with the bigger car had to pick us all up from our houses around the city. Then, of course, we had to eat breakfast together. And, obviously, make some emergencies stops because somebody always forgets something, in this case, each one of us. But finally, we made it to the road. We had to drive an hour or so to reach the mountains, or, at least, the path that would take us to the camping site. It was a good hike to get there. But we weren’t good hikers.
I remember exactly how our problems started.
“Hey, did you guys hear that?” whispered my friend Annie.
We all started walking slower and more carefully, trying to catch the sound she was talking about. But after a few seconds, she screamed and scared one my other friends, Sara. The rest of us were startled, but we all ended up laughing.
Of course, that wasn’t the end of it. When we were together, we acted like a group of little kids. So, the games began.
We continued our hike, and the jokes only got better and better. Pete started walking ahead of the group, and at some point, he looked back and pretended he was going to say something to the group but then raised his hand slowly, pointed behind us and put on a face of genuine horror. We all jumped and screamed and ran towards him until he broke down laughing upon seeing our terror at the absolute nothing that was behind us.
Then, there came things like my friend Andy throwing little rocks at our backs or throwing them in the sky, so they would fall around us as we walked, and acting as if he was as scared as we were. Then there was my joke of picking up little insects I met along the way and depositing them in my friend’s shoulders. It was hilarious to see them scream and dance around trying to see what was moving on their shoulders.
But finally, we did make it to the camping grounds. It was a nice spot in the forest, a clearing among the trees with soft, green grass and even a patch of flowers and a small river nearby, and it was like paradise. We had so much fun setting up the tents, because, we kind of knew how to do it, but that doesn’t mean it is ever easy. And of course, we were sabotaging each other. I still think one of the tents was somewhat upside down, but whatever, it had to be enough for us to sleep in.
The thing is we kind of messed up the traditional “camping schedule.” Because we were supposed to hike there, set up the tents, hang out, have dinner, maybe share scary stories, sing around the fire or whatever and finally fall asleep. But we were city kids too stressed with our lives on the weekdays that after just the hike and the tents situation, we fell asleep, accidentally and deeply but it was a magical nap if I say so myself.
However, when we woke up, it was well past midnight, and we had a lot of catching up to do with traditional camping activities. Snacks and drinks started moving around, and we were finally getting in the mood, under the stars, with the light of the fire we built ourselves miraculously and a handful of flashlights.
Anyway, we started playing charades. We were doing movies, and tv shows and my friend Sara was apparently doing one that included a bear, and her impression was so hilarious that we were all pretending we didn’t understand her just so she would keep acting. However, Annie interrupted seriously this time.
“Hey, did you guys hear that?” she said.
This time we ignored her and made fun of her, she wouldn’t get us this time. And Sara continued with her bear impression.
“What kind of bear is that?” I laughed at her.
And we were still laughing when Annie pointed behind Sara and said, “I think it’s a grizzly.”
Just at that moment, Sara was acting like a roaring bear, but although she was silent, we distinctly heard the sound of a bear. We were paralyzed for a few seconds, and we nervously stared at each other. Then we went into action. Pete tried to use his phone to read about what to do, Sara and I started packing the most important things, and Annie and Andy tried to spot how far or close the bear was.
When we were convinced, we had no idea what to do, and although in the darkness we couldn’t exactly see how far away the bear was, we decided the animal was too close and we needed to leave. It was really scary, once we started walking away when we heard the sound of the bear again. It sounded angry, I thought. We started running then, and we weren’t calm until we reached the car and daylight arrived. It was so scary, but we came back the next weekend anyway, that’s the kind of people we were.