#254-255. Why the Woods Freak Me Out.

Walking in the wilderness freaks me out, but not for the reason you're thinking. 

Walking in the wilderness freaks me out, but not for the reason you’re thinking. 

I’m Minnesotan, which means I love the north woods. It’s just a thing we’re born with. 

I recently spent a weekend at my cabin with my guy and our dog, Patsy. This summer has been lots of weddings, bachelor parties, bachelorette parties, showers and more weddings. Which has been fun! But also exhausting.

It was nice to have some time to just hang out, listen to records, drink wine, read, play cards. 

Josh & I also took the opportunity to “make the rounds”. If you’re not a cabin person, that basically means walking around, saying hi to the neighbors and maybe mooching a beer or snack. On this occasion, that meant a dusk walk to our pal Glen’s place (he’s 90, pours a stiff drink and cooks the best fried zucchini I’ve ever had), then to our friends Barry & Teri’s place (I think they were in bed, so we left them alone) and then on to Barb & Larry’s (Larry is the only person I know who still chain smokes in his house. I weirdly kind of like it). We stayed out until about 10:30. When we headed back, it was pitch black.

No moon. No light pollution. Nothing. And we forgot a flashlight. 

Josh found the flashlight app on his phone, which just barely illuminated the road. The walk (#254) was only about a half-mile, tops, the first part on Highway 48, a paved road with intermittent traffic. I clung tightly to Josh, trying to make light conversation and trying harder to forget the story we’d heard earlier that day about a wolf who’d recently buzzed through camp.


The wolf sounded scary, but not even half as scary as encountering a drunk driver. A wolf, most likely, wanted nothing to do with us. Drunk drivers, on the other hand, are totally unpredictable and, if I’m being honest, pretty commonplace around these parts. I felt more comfortable once we exited the main drag to the dirt road that leads to our cabin. We made it back in one piece. 

The next day, I ventured on a different nature walk. Solo.

Josh left early that morning to race motorcycles in Brainerd (thinking about your husband doing that is a Hey Eleanor all on its own). The dog was up and at ’em at 7 am, so I took her for a walk. 

We head a half-mile down a dirt road I’ve traveled dozens of times. It was quiet, not another sole out and about. I thought the road simply came to a dead end, but then noticed a FOR SALE sign. What?! Then a noticed an overgrown driveway. Huh. I decided to keep going, with my very ferocious 35-pound pup in tow.

The path was actually very beautiful, especially on a chilly September morning. Huge trees towered over us, with early morning sunlight pouring through the leaves. It was completely silent. Then, we happened upon a sign:


I am normally a rule follower. I sweat when I check out in the Express Lane with 11, not 10, items. Really. But there was nobody around and the “Keep Out” property was for sale and hey… maybe I wanted to buy it or something, so Patsy and I sauntered on (#255). 

I am a rule follower and would normally never trespass.... until today. 

I am a rule follower and would normally never trespass…. until today. 

It’s pathetic to admit, but I felt a rush as we trespassed our way down the long, hilly road. A Peewee would say, I am a loner, Dottie. A rebel.

I assumed this was just someone’s land, but as I rounded a corner, I stopped. In the distance I saw something. No, not a wolf (phew!). A pickup truck. I immediately power walked in the opposite direction.

Like the night before, it wasn’t nature I feared, but other PEOPLE.

When I think of the kind of person who might post a NO TRESPASSING sign, I imagine a crabby old man with a shotgun or something. Or maybe a creepy psychopath. I’m in the middle of the woods, no one is around. I was so vulnerable! Easy pickins for any sort of creep, rapist, drunk or murderer. 

A lot of people feel uneasy in the city. Because crime. I’m the opposite: rural or nature-y places creep me out people they are so isolated. If you get attacked in a city, there’s a high likelihood that someone will hear or see. In the middle of nowhere? Fat chance.

What sucks is I friggin love the great outdoors. I’m enamored with hiking and canoeing and fishing and all that stuff. It’s just the other people that freak me out. 

So friends, here’s my informal poll:

What’s scarier: Nature or people in nature? And where do you feel more vulnerable, the big city of the great outdoors? Go!

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Comments (3)

  • Brianna 6 years ago Reply

    I’m with you! My husband and I went camping this summer for the first time in a long time, and I feared the other campers when it was time for bed. I’m fairly certain I watch too much dateline, but creepy stories are so captivating!

    molly mogren katt 6 years ago Reply

    Yes, completely! If nothing else, I am afraid that drunk camper will accidentally wander into my tent thinking it’s their or something. Yikes!

  • Paige 6 years ago Reply

    Corey & I hiked part of the Ice Age Trail while camping in Wisconsin this summer. At one junction it left state park property and continues on designated private property. After probably 100 feet we were ready to turn back. Walking on private land was not comfortable even as part of a trail. Additionally uncomfortable was the notification of the trails closure during deer hunting season. I don’t like guns. I’ve never seen a gun in the city that wasn’t part of someone’s uniform. Even as someone who grew up in "the country" encountering people in secluded rural settings is much more unnerving than in the city.

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