I just spent the last three weeks in the paradise that is my Grandparents’ house in Washington State. They live a few miles outside of a small town called Port Townsend. From their house, you can see the ocean and their backyard blends in with a national forest full of hikes that wind between tall evergreens and around mossy stumps. My current manuscript draws heavily from my summer experiences in this green, lush wonderland.
To the patient observer, the wildlife can be incredible. It’s not uncommon to see a doe flanked by two fawns munching on the salal in the backyard, or to actually encounter the night owl you hear.
I don’t like going out after dark. Although no one has spotted any bears, people saw a mountain lion a couple of times. Sometimes, my imagination goes crazy.
Hoping for a romantic evening, my husband Eric took me on a short night hike while we were there. I tried to show prowess and enthusiasm, but I was unusually jumpy. In honor of Halloween, we decided it would be fun to describe the experience from a spookier lens.
The Night Hike
The first thirty seconds of the hike were pretty good. We traipsed through the narrow trail that led us from the house and its cheery lights into the darkness. The beam from our flashlight was dull, and tended to add more shadows than to illuminate.
The trees silently loomed in the darkness. Their bony limbs jutted out into the night. When I stepped on a twig, the brittle snap muffled into the surroundings.
It was soundless, except for when the wind hissed through the tree tops, like an ominous whisper, warning us not to enter.
Then, something rustled. Goosebumps prickled on my arms, the hair on the back of my neck stood on end as my heart rate skyrocketed. Deer? Or mountain lion? Squirrel? It was Eric.
I was done and we went home. To do this scenery better justice, I hand it over to my much braver character: Kindle Burns. She so happens go out into the Washington woods at night quite frequently.
Kindle Burns Excerpt
“I slipped through the dark woods, failing to avoid the slimy moss growing on every trunk I used for support. She had stopped walking. I ducked into the deep shadow of a tree and closed my eyes, focusing. The first thing I heard was a crunching noise. A few moments later I heard the haunting hoot of an owl.”