It was scout month, so we planned a fun adventure with the young men in our troop. We, along with many of the boys’ fathers, scheduled a snowmobile trip into Warm River Spring cabin.
This is one of our favorite wintertime getaways. We always prepare lots of good food, and being in the solitude of the backcountry always makes it a highlight of the boys’ scouting experience. The dads also like it because we aren’t sleeping out in snow caves on some desolate sagebrush desert.
Everything went according to plan, and before dark, everyone and all of the supplies had been transported to the desired destination.
Warm River Spring cabin is a beautiful place. It is the site of an old Fish and Game department fish hatchery. Now rented out by the forest service, it is set at the headwaters of Warm River. The spring comes out of the hillside and cascades into the river in a beautiful waterfall. The solitude is broken only by the sound of the rushing water and an occasional moose foraging in the river for moss.
We started a fire in the furnace, and soon the cabin was warm and homey. Another fire in the cook stove provided the heat to cook our supper. By early evening, everyone was full and happy as we all sat around the living room. After a game of Chinese writing, where most of the troop futilely tried to figure out the secret, we settled into what scouts do best – telling ghost stories.
I can tell ghost stories with the best, but the thing that makes mine scary is that they are all based on at least a splotch of historical truth. I like to take a story that the boys know or have heard of from history or legend, and add to it. Put that story in a backwoods setting, and my imagination can create something that can even scare me.
In addition, each boy had to see if he could tell one to top all of the others that had been told to that point. By the time we decided to retire to our beds, many of us had to glance over our shoulders a few times.
All lanterns were shut down, and the only light was an eerie glow of the silver winter moon through the cabin windows. I had just drifted off to sleep when I heard the first scream. “They’re breaking in! They’re going to kill us all!”
I sat up so fast that I hit my head on the bunk above me. The screams were coming from the other bedroom. Before I was even awake I was stumbling across the boys whose beds were laid out on the floor, as I rushed toward the screaming and thrashing. When I reached the other room I head one of the boys yell, “Sam! Sam! Stop the screaming! You’re just dreaming!”
I asked if everything was all right and, in the dark, someone said, “Oh, it’s okay. Sometimes Sam talks in his sleep after he’s heard ghost stories.”
Talking in a person’s sleep I have heard of, but screaming, I hadn’t. The other boys and many of the dads seemed to have experienced this with Sam before and were unconcerned, but I was quite unnerved by it.
I made my way back to my bed, only stepping on two boys in the process, and had again just drifted off to sleep when another scream brought me to wide awake. “It’s caving in! We’re all going to die!”
My brain was caught between a feeling that I had experienced this before, and an ominous sound of something scraping on the outside of the cabin. Once more I tromped a few scouts on my way to the other bedroom, only to hear the others yelling at Sam again. But that still didn’t account for the scraping sound. I made my way to a side window and discovered a moose scratching on the post that held up the small porch. Another moose stood beside him, alert and snorting. Apparently Sam’s screams had scared him too.
I was just drifting off to sleep once more when Sam screamed again. I don’t even remember what he said because I just rolled over and wearily covered my head with my pillow. The next day everyone was sleepy and grouchy; everybody but Sam.
He’s the only one that was able to sleep through the screaming.