Thank God for Claustrophobia

Reads: 52  | Likes: 0  | Shelves: 0  | Comments: 0

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Reddit
  • Pinterest
  • Invite

Status: Finished  |  Genre: Thrillers  |  House: Booksie Classic

Five friends hiking up a mountain in the deep snow, who thought a fire, could be a life saver in more ways than one.

 

 

 

An 'open mind' to me is one of the broadest statements we use as humans, yet we rarely give it much thought. It is a very relative description with many levels, with that said, one needs a very open mind, to read this true encounter I had, one that I never wanted, didn't ask for it and I wouldn't wish on anybody.

To start off the story, a group of five friends, I being one, decided to go back packing and skiing, in Reno, Nevada in the middle of December. When I say that, I mean extreme hiking with backpacks and skis strapped to our back. Now we were all very experienced in both disciplines and we were what they call 'adrenaline junkies'.' The youngest in our group was Tommy, he was 22, the oldest was Sam, 26 and the rest of us were in between. All of us were in amazing shape, nondrinkers, nonsmokers, you get the idea. Our trip started at the base camp, along the southern slope of Mount Rose, which being over 5,000 feet, we weren't trying to reach the summit, just have fun enjoying our time off work and as a tight group of friends, all of us looked forward to the trip and each prepared well. 

On day one, we covered about 200 feet which felt like straight up the mountain, and that might not seem very far, but considering we were dredging through two to four feet of snow, sometimes deeper, with full packs and skis, climbing up a mountain, it was tough. Yes, there was a trail but it was fully covered in snow and snow drifts. It had been a year or so for me, since I did anything like this, so my calves were having a hard time, but with oxygen getting thin, we all had our problems. We found a nice flat plateau to set up our first camp sight. We each had our own tents and provisions and we were quick to call it a night, so we could get an early start. Our next planned stop was about 350 feet away, so we needed to make better time. There wasn't much going on the next morning, we made coffee, ate granola bars and hard-boiled eggs, protein is vital for this climb. We all packed our gear and set off up the mountain. 

The view was amazing and for sure we snapped a lot of pics, Johnny had big plans to set up a blog about that trip in hopes to "motivate others to accomplish their goals" as he put it. We were all into it and glad to be apart of all that, because the vistas were outstanding. On the first and second day, the weather was amazing, sunny and warm, I mean we were hiking without our heavy parkas and some took their hats off, little did we know that was soon to change. On the second day we surpassed our goal of 350 feet cause we spotted an even better spot to set up our second camp roughly 100 feet further up the slope. We were all feeling great, the day was gorgeous and we had hardly even stopped for a break. 

When we reached our second camp site, we had climbed over 600 feet and our goal was roughly 1500 feet to a well-known flat slope, famous for skiing down, but usually people jump outta helicopters and ski down, I am sure you have seen some YouTube videos of people doing that. Anyway, we decide to take our time, climb to this spot and ski down, it was a fail proof plan. We set up our tents and got a decent fire going, and began discussing the next day, the route, timing, all of that kinda stuff. As the sun started to set, we all noticed some huge black clouds to the west, now we all had seen the weather, we knew a storm was coming and every forecast we saw, said the storm would push way north then die off, so we were confident we would be fine, or so we thought. After adding more wood to the fire, we all headed in our tents, early, again to get an early start. It was couple hours later, around 9:30, I noticed a huge temperature drop and I instinctively knew, that was not good news. 

I kept an ear out for someone else to say something, but no one did, they must have been sleeping I thought. It wasn't long after that the winds came, then the snow, then more snow and wind, I remember thinking we were screwed. The storm was pretty loud, I was sure everyone else was hearing it too, yet no one said a word. When the sun rose and I opened the tent, most of all our tents were covered in snow and everyone else was unburying themselves as well. Needless to say, it wasn't a very pleasant morning, but the super-hot coffee seemed to help a lot. I had brought some homemade beef jerky and everyone seemed eager to get a piece. As we were breaking down our tents, a couple guys thought we should head back down and scrub the trip, but the rest of us knew better. That was the very small, fast moving storm we knew was coming, it just got thrown off course a bit and there was no way we were going to let a little snow, ok, two feet of fresh snow, ruin our trip, so we packed up and moved out. It was no surprise that all the extra snow slowed us down but we all marched on. With more than half the way still to go, it was very important to keep pace and it seemed everyone was on board. We made much better time that day than we thought we would, switching trails to one that was sheltered by some huge evergreen trees and tall rocks, we were all super stoked. 

After climbing another 400 feet, we could literally see our final stop, which laid up a ridge, but to make matters worse, the trail stopped. Like I had said, we all loved a good challenge and this was as hard as anything most of us had ever done. When we came around the next turn, it seemed as though the heavens opened us for us, and gave us a huge gift. Against the mountain was a small opening, about 7 feet tall and about 4 feet wide or so. We were all thinking the same thing: shelter. It was time to pitch tents and get a fire going anyway, so a couple guys went into the cave, with headlamps on to check it out. They weren't in there more than five minutes when they came out telling us how this would be great for us, but maybe not big enough for all the tents. So, we all went in and confirmed their findings. I don't like cramped spaces so I quickly chimed up and said, "I can sleep outside, I'll have the fire and the stars!" They all laughed and agreed. After all the tents were up, dinner was eaten and we were about to turn in, I had such a strange feeling, not really a premonition, but close I think, I don't know, I have never really had one. Every one turned in, I remember the sky was so clear, it seemed you could reach up and grab a star or two, it was so beautiful, I swear I had a spiritual moment. Now we built the fire close to the opening of the cave, so they might feel some warmth and with the wind blowing off and down the mountain, there was zero chance of any smoke getting inside. 

As I laid there it wasn't long before I fell asleep. I don't know what time it was, seemed as though I wasn't asleep for long when I started hearing Tommy scream his head off and then I heard what sounded like a huge buffalo, crossed with a bear that also had mixes of very high-pitched screams. Mixed with Tommy screaming, it was the most frightening sound I have ever witnessed. Before I could even get out of my sleeping bag, Tommy stopped screaming abruptly, and then I heard what seemed like the other three guys screaming and shrieking, while the growls only intensified. I wanted to jump out of my tent, for several reasons, but I just froze. Which seemed like a few minutes, but had to be seconds, all the screaming stopped and there was dead silence. I could not even imagine what had just happened and I didn't want to know either. Just then, I heard a loud, super deep yell, but mixed with a roar, it was the other sound I heard besides my friends screams and it shook me to the core. I laid there for about twenty minutes, slipped out of my sleeping bag, unzipped the tent, about an inch, in hopes to see something. 

My tent opening was facing the cave but was on the other side of the fire that was still burning, so it blocked my view and I couldn't see a thing. Soon the sun started to rise and I knew I had to go in the cave and see what the hell happened. It took me awhile to get my nerves up to go see and the thought of me having to climb down alone frightened me. As I approached the opening, the smell of blood and flesh wafted from the cave and I know I must have been shaking pretty hard, not just from the cold but from pure fear also. As I entered the cave, I saw all the tents, ripped up, torn apart and thrown all over the place, the same with their gear, yet there was no one inside. There was however a lot of blood, which seemed to be all over the walls, all over the ground and it was covering the remains of my friend's gear. I stood paralyzed, not knowing what I was seeing, although I did know, it was quite obvious. 

Whatever did this, either lived there or was just in the cave at that moment, whatever the case, it obviously didn't appreciate anyone else being in there. I was in shock, I went through some of the ripped remains, but soon realized it was pointless, then it hit me, I need to get the fuck outta there now! When I exited the cave, I saw a point of view I hadn't seen the night before. My tent was blocked from view from inside the cave, the fire for the most part was pretty big and certainly the smoke covered up any odor I had, either myself or my food, which I was sure saved my life that night. I started to quickly pack up my gear, I knew it was going to be a long, lonely trip down the mountain. I'll never forget the site of that cave and thinking about what could have happened to me, one thing is sure, when I started down the mountain, one phrase kept repeating in my head, "Thank God for claustrophobia!"

 

*Subject to copyright 


Submitted: May 26, 2021

© Copyright 2021 Strange and Scary Stories. All rights reserved.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Reddit
  • Pinterest
  • Invite

Add Your Comments:


Facebook Comments

More Thrillers Short Stories

Other Content by Strange and Scary Stories

Short Story / Thrillers

Short Story / Thrillers