Once in a while something happens to you that is completely unexplainable. Arriving in the Polish Lake district a few day ago our small band of weary travellers was treated to one of the strangest experiences of our collective lives.
We had arrived at our destination in darkness due to our drive being a bit longer than anticipated. The plan was to head to the first lake that was shown on the map, and then find a track leading off into the forest and, hopefully, down to the lakes edge for a nice wild camp site. On arrival, there was no shortage of tracks, but even with the big floodlights, it was very difficult to see where we were heading.
Armed with little more than a bit of cockiness, a faith in my 4×4 and absolutely no knowledge of the polish trespassing laws, we picked the most overgrown looking track we could and headed down off the road.
Soon enough, we had weaved our way through the trees and found the destination of our tracks endeavour; a (hopefully) disused hunting camp in the middle of the forest. There was something about the collection of run down caravans and crude wooden fences that immediately made us want to leave and luckily we were able to spot another, even smaller track leading away from the area.
After another gruelling trek over jagged rocks and exposed tree roots, and after what must have been a 52 point turn judged by hitting first my bullbars, then my jerry cans of their respective obstacles, we had made it through to a clearing in the forest that we were happy enough to decide was home for the night. The clearing sat, as we had hoped, next to the waters edge. From it, we could see across the lake, at the dark shores and sleepy towns as well as beyond to the red lights of hundreds of wind turbines.
It being late, we were quick to divide up tasks, (Firewood, dog, Camp area, beds), but on this particular night, we all set to our work with much less than our usual zest. I was on dog duty, and walking around the pitch black forest and down to the lake I became aware of a growing unease in my stomach, one that hurried me back to camp.
Upon arriving, I found that the others were going about their various labours slowly, exchanging glances and all staying close by. I immediately made my announcement; “Hey, something doesn’t feel right, I think we should move”. The reception that this received made me sure I had made the right choice, the others immediately agreed, thankful that they were not the only ones experiencing what by this point I could only describe as a growing feeling of dread.
Driving away from the area, we had all expected that the feeling of horror from the pits of our stomachs would be subsiding, however, it continued to grow, and by the time we drove past the hunting camp again, we were all literally shaking. We managed to re-enter the road and decided it best to head to a nearby campsite for the night rather than continue to try and find a place to wild camp, as we were all still shaken, and still expecting something bad to happen.
After a slow and careful drive, we arrived at our destination, to the bad news that it was closed for the season. Determined that we would not be able to find a safe place to wild camp still, we tried again, heading to the next town over to try again. Arriving at the second campsite, we found the gate unlocked, and after a torchlit walk around the deserted site, decided that it would still be a bad place to stay. Luckily, 5 minutes down the road, we were able to find a street lit area by the side of the lake in which we felt sufficiently safe and took the opportunity to get our weary heads down for the night.
Chatting the evenings events through in the van that evening, we were all bewildered as the the source of our fear. It was far from simply the fact that we were staying in an unknown location in a dark forest, all of us, Myself and Dee especially have wild camped hundreds of times in places all around the world. It may have been the carvings in the trees or the strange upturned bottles on sticks that marked the track, but such things are common in forestry. It may have been the eeriness of the hunting camp nearby. I personally blame the Infrasound from the wind turbines across the water in which the ultra-low frequency noise is not audible, but sensed and registered by the body in the way of strong feelings of fear. Whatever it was, it was a feeling that I have not experienced before and very much hope to never experience again.