I am standing here on a wooden platform about 4 miles up a river staring into the dark forest as I hear a large animal crashing around getting closer and closer. I have my head lamp on high hoping to see eyes. I have a half full nalgene water bottle in one hand and my phone in the other. My buck knife is under my arm with the safety off ready to be drawn if needed. Heart beating probably as hard as it ever has.
I was up before the sun and ready to go. I could feel nature dialing my number but it wasn’t calling just yet. I broke down camp then looked around for a place to go. I started walking over and looked up to see a gentleman walking down the trail towards me. I play it off like I was looking for something and go drop off my TP and head over to talk to him. I guess I was only about 2 miles from the parking lot according to him. We had a nice chat but I had to get going. I get back to my boat and get caught up with a phone call. I’m now way behind when I wanted to leave but had 2 good conversations so it’s all good. It was high tide so getting back to the ocean was easy from the stand point of water levels, not so much navigation. I was weaving through the marsh lands and finally made it to the open ocean with only about 4 wrong turns. The water was choppy and the wind was coming from the east right in my face. I had about 10 miles open water paddling and it was not easy. Water was splashing up on me and in the boat. Nothing to be worried about but with the wind it was a little chilly. About half way I saw some rocks on a sand bar and figured it was a good place to take a break. There was a boat there with people fishing. It was so windy I couldn’t talk to them so I just pulled up and stepped out and peed in the water in front of them. I turned my back of course. They left soon and looked at me and waved as I sat there. It was kind of a last chance to ask for help before they left me sitting in the middle of the ocean wave. I pushed through and had trouble finding the entrance to the river I needed to go up to camp. When I did find it I still had to go 3 miles up river. It was low tide and the river kept getting smaller in width. It winded through till I got to the state park boat ramp. The fisherman were complaining about how rough it was out there today so I felt good knowing that I survived. One of the guys was telling me to watch out for bears and boars around here. I told him that I had a boar in my camp last night and thought it was a bear till I looked up if they had wild boars. He said that bears can be scared off easily but boars are savage. He had 5 dogs killed by boars. I asked if he had any other bedtime stories to help me sleep tonight. He did tell me that boars can’t lift there heads so you can jump if they charge. Don’t know if it’s true but I will be jumping when I’m not screaming. I headed up the river to the paddlers camp site. Right when I started paddling something caught my eye on the east bank. It was something sliding into the water. I didn’t see it fully but it was either an alligator tail or a big snake. I went with the lesser of two evils in my opinion and guessed alligator. I was blown away by the beauty of the section of this tiny river at this point. I was soaking it in when I saw a sign for the camp site guarded by an alligator on the other side of the river. I pulled my boat out and went to the campsite. You can tell it hasn’t been used in a while but was very nice. It had a tent platform built as an Eagle Scout project. I got a fire going and set up. I went back to see if the alligator was still by the shore right before dark. When I got there I heard something go crashing through the woods on the other side of the river. It had to be a black bear by the sound of it. I went back and put a few more logs on the fire and tried to relax. Which brings me to a little after dark when I began hearing something new tromping in the woods on my side of the river. I yelled trying to scare it off but it kept tromping. I figured it was a boar but it kept coming closer. It could be a bear since I had just eaten dinner and it wanted to join. Since it didn’t run off I prepared for battle with the boar. First thing I did was strap on my sandals and stretch incase I needed to jump. I got on the platform for the high ground. My thought process was that if I could hit it with the water bottle I would stun it, I could get a picture, then if it didn’t run I would use the knife to defend myself. Luckily it didn’t come to that but I spent quite a long time standing on the platform watching and listening. It went a way at one point and came back from a different direction but wasn’t alone. I could hear at least 2 crunching in the woods. I figured if I got one and the other killed me, then when they found my body they would know I put up a good fight! (Just kidding, Mom). I kept throwing logs into the fire and into the woods. At one point I heard a snort so I knew it wasn’t a bear. They finally left. At least for now but I am keeping my ears pealed. Alligator, Boars, and Bears, oh my!