Fear of the Dark, as Nighttime Falls
“Shadows fell on them like predators as the light went out.” ― China Miéville
When I’m out camping I don’t have bright lights or fires, because it’s not the darkness, it’s what I can’t see in the darkness that scares me. My night vision is great and I can see further than any ring of light. Beyond that it’s not very surreptitious when your camp is illegal.
So, my first blog after my 2020 no destination camping trip is about three other campers I crossed paths with and is imbibed with wry humour. The weather forecast for Wawa was a thunder storm, so instead of my usual beach for the night I headed for the covered picnic shelter at magpie high falls. I have so many stories to write, so many photos and videos to edit and upload I’m really excited at what I see my web page turning into, and content for my blog, but for now I really, really want to write about this light bit of humour. I pull in and grab myself a bite to eat, and a huge brand-new jeep Rubicon pulls in too. Out pop three young Asian guys, and I say hi. That’s when I figure out they’re deaf and need to read my lips. It might slightly mitigate some of my story, but trust me it was way more than you could imagine. I can tell by the way they are aimlessly trying to look occupied that they have the same plans as me. I smile and pull out my sleeping bag and pillow and set up shop on a picnic table. I figure this will put them at ease, because I’ve decided I want them to feel comfortable. Conjecture, but I assume it’s their first night camping ever. It works. Too well… On come their high beams, then the head lamps…then the lanterns. They start unpacking. Three tents, three mats, three sleeping bags, three doodads, three doohickeys. More money than common sense. Almost an hour and I wait for the lights to turn down. Out come bins of food and they start cooking, so I roll a joint and wait. Another hour, or so it seems anyway. I wander over into the light, so they can read my lips and suggest its illegal and they might want to turn down the high beams. Most people would extrapolate a little more and turn down the lamps too… They turn down the headlights but there are now four brand new LED lanterns and three brand new head bands putting out some heavy lumens. It’s so bright my end is still lit like it’s daytime. I started feeling pissed off thinking they were antagonising me and have to smoke another joint to re-find the humour. One comes over to engage me I suggest with gestures and a smile that I think they’re a little nuts and shade my eyes against the light…it was barely sarcastic. He goes over and I’d imagine suggests turning down more lights. Now down to three headlamps and one supernova lantern, but better. Probably only shows for two or three miles now. I can’t stop laughing. I realise they’re afraid of the dark. Add to this the deafness as well. There might be no audible conversation, but the accidental racket they were oblivious to… No joke, one or two of them has really bad gas too and it’s loud enough I can hear it clearly. I finally manage to get to sleep, laughing. Next morning we’re all up, I whip myself up some breakfast, take some pics and video, go exploring and pack up all my stuff. They’re still unpacking bins of food, three stoves, three pump sprayers like you use for rough showers. Everything. As big as the jeep was this was a clown car moment. One of the kids needs to shit. Out comes a spade since the outhouse isn’t just closed, it's gone. Glad they came prepared, but then out comes a small stool. Okay then, I mean comfort matters? Then comes a whole new pop up blue pop up tent thing that goes over it. I’m killing myself laughing imagining there are two more complete kits for potty in there too. I finish transferring all files to my computer, and pack up to leave. I walk over to say bye and good luck. By now they are all dressed in the latest of fashion and have so much gear spread out that I am literally chuckling away as I say bye. I KNOW by the time they get to the west coast half that gear will be thrown out and the clothes a lot more comfortable. …and hopefully they overcome their fear of the dark. For all that, the morals of this parable are 1) if you’re afraid of the dark maybe stealth camping isn’t for you, and 2) just because they make something for camping doesn’t mean you need it or one of each per person. I’m still laughing writing this today. Monty Python does guerrilla camping.
Nyctophobia, also known as lygophobia, is the irrational fear of darkness and dark places. While many adults may still be afraid of the dark, some people may have had their fear morph into a phobia. Nyctophobics experience extreme anxiety at night or in dark places.