Croatan Creepin'

Apr 15, 2002

Even though the stress is piling high for Erin as the semester’s close draws near, she let me sneak away for a weekend backpacking trip with Blaine. He and I joined Chris Guidry and Ginger Thompson (they’re engaged to be married in August) and Ginger’s brother, Chris. We drove south to the Croatan National Forest Recreation Area. We arrived late Friday night and eventually found the campground. In my sleep I heard wild turkeys wander by. On Saturday, after we hiked through the rain for a couple of hours, we came upon a forest service road where a pickup truck was parked. A man in camouflage leaned against his hood, searching up and down the road through his binoculars. ”Today’s the first day of turkey hunting season,” he told us, motioning to Ginger and me and warning us that her red backpack and my red hat looked dangerously similar to a turkey tom’s head. I asked him if he had any turkey calls, and he whipped out a handful of different devices for calling the birds. ”They’ve got such good eyesight, they can see you blink,” he said. ”We joke that they see you coming when you’re in line for your hunting license.” We didn’t see any more hunters that day, but we did hear plenty of turkey’s in the bush when we finally pitched our tents—after 15 miles of hiking through pine forests and dense brush. The next day, with bright blue skies, we packed up and headed back through the hot sun. My hiking shoes disintegrated along the way; they’d been with me around the world, in 13 countries, to the top of a volcano and past Big Ben. We stopped to fill our water bottles at a stream and to eat lunch. That’s when I noticed ticks falling onto me and scuttling about for a lunch of their own. Most of these were deer ticks, and though I think I pried them all off me—one little bugger burrowed beneath my socks and was chomping on my foot when I noticed him after my shower—I’m frightened of the possibility of Lyme disease. Other wildlife along the way included black and green snakes, an Eastern box turtle and a squirrel or two. And plenty of bear scat! It was a relief to finally walk out of the forest after 30 miles of hiking.

Anton Zuiker

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