• Alyssa Clark

Things That Go Bump in the Night - An Overnight Report

By Alyssa Clark

Goal: To practice an overnight stay in preparation for an FKT attempt in late October. Will bring mostly packed kit with a bivy, sleeping pad, clothes, some snacks, headlamp, battery packs, water, a medical kit and toiletries to mimic actual run. The plan is to stay at primitive campsite #3 at Pine Log Forest with an approximately 2.5 mile hike/run in and out with an hour and a half run tacked on to the back end. Will be using bivy, inflating sleeping pad, assessing sleeping ability in set up, and managing personal hygiene and clothing choices. Set to occur on Tue, Sept 8 at approximately 7:30pm. 

Sept 8: 

1pm First Update: Prepping gear for packing, have the following items packed still waiting for several more gear items including Ultimate Direction 20L Pack:

  1. Patagonia Houdini windbreaker

  2. Ferrino 12L Mountain Pack

  3. Ferrino Buff

  4. Toilet Paper

  5. Hand Sanitizer

  6. Medical Kit

  7. Thermarest Z Lite Sleeping Pad

  8. MSR Bivy

  9. Patagonia Mid Weight Hooded Synthetic Puffy Jacket

  10. Icebreaker Merino Wool Long Sleeve

  11. Icebreaker Razorback Sports Bra

  12. Petzl Reactik Headlamp

  13. Jaybird Wireless Headphones

  14. Stomach Medications

  15. Solar Panel Power Charger

  16. Micro Power Charger

  17. Phone Charging Cable

  18. 2 500ml Soft Flasks with water

  19. 1 Honey Stinger Gluten Free Waffle

  20. 1 Handheld canister of Pepper Spray

  21. 1 Mildly scared Alyssa

All articles are packed and unsurprisingly much heavier than anticipated. Alyssa regretfully does not bring bug spray despite looking straight at it and thinking “Pshhh I won’t need that.” Famous last words. 

4pm: Alyssa casually mentions to husband Codi, asking if he wants to run out with her to the campsite, half-serious and half knowing he will not want to run at night in the Florida weather. Husband tentatively agrees if he finds nothing better to do by that time. Said husband makes a bet that Alyssa will be back by 10pm at the house. Alyssa scoffs and denies she is that soft and is now more determined than ever she will succeed. 

6:45pm: Alyssa’s podcast runs longer than anticipated, but now is ready to drive 25mins to Pine Log State Forest. She is filled with determination anticipating her success, already planning the coffee she will get in the morning as she smugly returns home. Alyssa does not know where she is going and precedes to get lost before finding the campground in darkness. Husband is thoroughly annoyed at the poor planning which does not bode well for said adventure. Husband may or may not be correct. 

7:15pm: Now in darkness, the hopeful and the annoyed have arrived at the parking area. They don their packs and set off in what Alyssa thinks is the right direction, but as she is only working off a small, less than specific map, they quickly realize it is the wrong direction. The Florida humidity sits around them, with the temperature reading 82 even after night has fallen. The buzzing of mosquitoes and many other unknown creepy-crawlies fills their ears as Codi proclaims “if I were you, I would not be doing this.” Alyssa shrugs, still believing that magically, the bugs will leave her be when she lays down to sleep. Using a combination of the campsite map and the app Viewranger, they take off down the correct road to link onto the trail the primitive campsite is supposed to be directly adjacent too. As they jog along, the mood lightens as running seems to always do to mildly tense situations. They hop onto the trail, only to come to a screeching halt as Codi’s light bounces off an enormous web complete with an enormous creepy spider, completely blocking the trail at face height. “Now that is something that goes bump in the night!” Codi exclaims as the pair search for a stick to clear the web from the path. Eyes now searching for the creepy crawlies, the adventurers clear several more large cobwebs including one so large, they must duck under instead. 

7:50pm: “It should be right around here,” Codi pronounces as they consult the map and app. Several semi clearing looking spots with what looks to be leftover toilet paper appear, but nothing that shouts “I am a campsite!” It is assumed there is more emphasis on primitive than campsite at this point and the couple backtrack to a small ranger road. After a bit of wandering and finding a linking path, they decide to settle on a nice little grassy patch by the side of the trail. Alyssa pulls out her sleeping pad and bivy, Codi unraveling it as Alyssa fights off blacking out as she inflates the sleeping pad. “Don’t worry about me hun! I’ll be fine here. Everything will be great!” she says determined to be true. “Okay, but that bivy is made for cold weather and you’ll need to pull it over your head in order to keep the bugs out” he responds. “It’ll be fine”, she concludes, “but ugh! That daddy long legs is way too fond of me. Would you get off my bedding please sir!” she exclaims flicking the spider off who had continuously crawled back to join in on the fun. “I’ll leave you be but be safe and come back if this doesn’t work” Codi responded, turning back to jog off to the car. 

8:00pm “I think I’m going to suffocate and drown in my own sweat” Alyssa thinks as she lays tucked into the bivy for all of about 2min. Flustered, she throws the bivy back, only to feel the imminent threat of the mosquitoes and daddy long legs just waiting to pounce. She decides it is not actually helpful to stay for said mission in late October and proceeds to call husband, admit defeat and pack up as quickly as possible. She takes off, trotting along the road, not displeased but determined to take lessons from the failure. A light blinks towards her, “Hello??” she calls, thinking Codi has come back for her. “Hi there” returns an unknown voice. “How’s it going?” she responds without thinking maybe she should not converse with a stranger. “Just out here checking out the stars” the singular male voice responds. Alyssa makes the snap decision this is not the best-case scenario for her first outing and books it down the opposite trail, checking back every now and then to see if a bobbing light is following her. Judging from her threat level midnight spidey senses, she feels said character was as surprised as she and truly just out to enjoy the stars. Having ducked the spiders on the way out, it is a clear path back to the road and her vehicle. She contemplates sleeping in the car, believing some level of camping will be better than none until her light bounces off a far too big snake lying directly in front of her on the road. “Well that’s it!” she exclaims, slowly backing away from the snake, “I’m out of here.” She makes it safely to the car, with no desire to tempt the fates of snakes, spiders, mosquitoes or unknown humans. “Live to fight another day” she sighs, backing the car out of the space. 

9:43pm “Well, I’m 17 minutes early” Alyssa concedes as she gives Codi a good night kiss. He appears confused and then remembers his ten o’clock bet. “Well better to learn now than when you’re out on your own” he replies with a smile. Alyssa walks to the living room, bivy and sleeping pad laid out, to have her camping experience nonetheless. All goes according to plan, including the night watch of two kittens, guarding her bivy and ensuring no creepy crawlies will disturb her sleep.

Lessons Learned:

-Safety over stupidity 

-Know your plan beforehand

-Be as specific to race/adventure day as possible including weather/wildlife threat

-Take what you can learn even if it's not what you expect

-Florida is scary

-Bring bug spray

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