Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Marshall's Creek Fish and Hunt Club

In 1973 I went camping at Marshall's Creek in Pennsylvania. I went there with Mona O’Brien to do a bit of camping under the stars. It didn’t quite work out as we’d planned. The trip had started easily enough, with my friend Seth Herman driving Mona and I to Marshalls Creek, somewhere near Stroudsburg, at Otter Creek in Pennsylvania, just outside of New York.

Seth had a 2 seat green MGB,(it may have been the Triumph TR-7, but you’d have to ask him) and I sat behind the seats, in the little space between them and the rear plastic window of the convertible top. It was not the most comfortable ride, but more of a means to an end. In short, it was the only transportation available to Mona and I, outside of “thumbing it.”

We arrived in the Pocono’s and began to scout for a good spot to camp at, one which Seth would be able to find again when he came back to pick us up on Sunday afternoon, as planned. It was getting dark when Seth left the road in the MGB, dodging trees and looking for a suitable place. We soon found one, just outside of a cabin which sported a sign saying “Welcome to Marshall’s Creek Fish and Hunt Club.” We unpacked our gear and the headlights of Seth’s car disappeared into the darkness, presumably towards the road from which we had just come.

The silence, as they say, was deafening in the darkness of the woods. A moon was out, but through the canopy of the trees, offered scant light. We made some soup and rice for our dinner, and after a bit of fooling around, we crawled into our sleeping bag, nestled against one another in anticipation of a cool night.

That’s when we first heard it, a slow droning sound, neither of us could distinguish. It grew in intensity and seemed to be coming towards us. Mona spotted them first, a group of forms, clad in robes, numbering about 20 in all. They were chanting, neither in English, Latin or any other language which we could understand. As they got closer the forms took shape. It was medieval, it was unsettling, it was clearly time to leave.

Gathering some clothes, we dressed as we ran, never stopping to look back at the sound and shapes coming from behind us. We broke out onto the road, not even sure how we got there, and began to run up the road. We very quickly came to Otter Creek Trailer camp, where there was a fire burning outside of the camper pictured above. We pulled close to it, gathering the lone blanket we had grabbed with our clothes around us for warmth.

We must have made some noise, for in a moment there was a man at the door of the camper, shotgun in hand, and none too pleased to have been awakened by 2 straggly looking teenagers. “What’s the problem’, he asked, without lowering the shotgun. When we told him what had happened to us, and where, he lowered his weapon. “Well, that’s not the first time that’s happened up there. You kids best stay here by the fire ‘til morning and I’ll run you back up to see about your stuff.” We thanked him, he went back inside, and Mona and I didn’t quite sleep that night.

Morning came, we used the campground facilities to wash up a bit, and then our benefactor, true to his word, drove us back up to the Marshall's Creek Fish and Hunt Club to retrieve our gear. There wasn’t much left. Our guests had used hatchets to bust up the canned goods, killed some squirrels and left them mutilated and strewn about, and otherwise wrecked our campsite. There was little doubt that we would be enjoying another night under the stars. Our new friend invited us back down to his place, but as Seth would be expecting us to be where he had left us, there was nothing for it but to pass the day, and the following night, camping near the same spot.

I don’t remember the exact time, but I do remember the sound of Seth’s car as it drove through the woods in search of us. I’ll never know exactly how he managed to find us again, only that we were glad that he did. Wedging myself back behind the 2 seats was a joy as we headed out of the woods towards the highway, and home. It was one of my last camping trips for quite a while.

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