Bicycle Journey Progress

The journey begins on July 29th and ends on September 11th, 2023

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terça-feira, 17 de abril de 2012

The Campground from Hell

That's how we call it.

On April 9th, after a long day riding towards Augusta, GA, we decided our next day would be lighter. We slept early and rested enough. By 10:30 am we were ready to depart. In front of our hotel we got our smartphone and started searching for a destination not too far away. That's when we saw this campground showing on the map, in the middle of nowhere. It's name was Fountain Campground, located about 48 miles away from Augusta - perfect distance.

From the satellite imagery we couldn't tell anything else besides that there was some kind of installation in the woods. Researching more, all we found about it was that this place had been founded in the late 1800s, and since the mid 1930s it has been used as a campground. Without better options, we decided to go for it.

Due to the hard elevation and our more relaxed rhythm we ended up arriving there very late, around 7:30 pm, just before nightfall.

At the first glance the place didn't look bad. There was a sign with its name and a small entrance that lead to a few old houses. We looked for a reception or registration office but found none, so we decided to walk in. At first, all we saw were old houses, no one seemed to be around that area. As we searched, the remaining sunlight faded away until it was almost completely dark. Still, we couldn't find anyone.

We then saw light coming from a small house. We checked and there were the bathrooms: all clean, with soap on the sink and the bathing spot's floor was wet. Clearly, someone had been showering there not too long ago. We moved on searching for an owner or someone that could grant us permission to camp there.

That's when we saw a red light coming from one of the old wooden houses. It was across the campground, so we parked our bicycles and walked over there. It was a scary place. There was an old coat laying on a bench. The house had an opened corridor that ran through the middle of it. It actually looked more like a barn than like a house. I said hello, explained in a loud voice that we were travelers looking for a place to camp, but no one answered. The walls in the house were full of cracks through which inside red light could be seen, so we weren't sure if there was no one in the house or if someone was watching us through the cracks. I called for someone a few more times and no one answered. Due to the lack of response, my uncle started walking back to where the bicycles were parked.

Then I decided to walk in.

I turned on my recording camera, and started walking towards the house. As I stepped in I could see everything was covered in dust. In the first room at the right side of the main corridor two mattresses were leaning vertically on the wall, side by side. There was also a box full of what seemed to be old papers. Then I moved to the second room. There I saw several old, dirty toys spread all over the floor and bed. Judging for the amount of dirt in them I would say they had been laying there for quite a while. Here is what I recorded:

I searched but found no one there. From the woods I started hearing noises, as if something was being dragged on the ground, over the dry leafs.

I walked back to where my uncle was and, without anywhere else to go, we decided to look for a spot to open our tents.

We then saw an old construction, with a large roof but no walls, more like a shelter. Bats were flying in and out of it in a frenzy. We walked in with our flashlights on and noticed there was an altar in one of the sides. A bible was resting on top of the main table, along with a funeral business card. As we moved our flashlights toward the other side of the shelter we noticed several long wooden chairs lined up, covering all the remaining area of that shelter. That's when we realized that this was some kind of religous ceremonial place.

With a thunderstorm approaching, we decided to set our tents in the altar: that would be the best spot, after all it was off the floor and we had a roof over our heads. My uncle found a few switches that when flipped turned the lights over the altar on. We also found plugs which we could use to charge the cellphones and connect our electric pan to cook the frozen food we had in our bags.

We then had dinner, and took showers in those bathrooms. After, we assembled the tents and placed all our bags within them. We locked the bicycles in the altar's main preaching desk and went to brush our teeth.

As we were entering the bathroom we heard wolfs howling close by. Let's say that didn't help us to relax. We then brushed our teeth and returned to the shelter. My uncle started organizing the dirty dishes we had from the dinner while I packed the remaining things when we saw two cars approaching by the road in high speed. They turned in a side unpaved road that passed just along side that area, about 300 feet / 100 meters away from us. As they were passing by the campground they suddenly stopped, went in reverse back to the corner of that side road and the main road and got outside the cars. A loud discussion was taking place, but due to the distance and the echo we couldn't understand what they were saying. My uncle and I were not sure if they had seen us, if they were talking about us or what, so we didn't move or make any noises for a few moments. Then my uncle turned off the altar lights and we docked, hoping they would not notice us camping there. Over the corner, two guys and a girl were discussing something, and the noises were interspersed with crying sounds and hysterical laughter. We remained docked while the discussion went on. After about 15 minutes they got back in their cars and took off.

We then finally got in our tents, but decided to leave the lights off.

Not too along after we were trying to sleep, the two cards came back from the road and stopped in the same place. Again a loud discussion went on, but they didn't seem to notice us. When they left again, we finally relaxed.

I was almost falling asleep when I started hearing steps around the shelter. There were no openings in my tent turned to that side, so I couldn't see what was going on. The steps were quick, like animals running around. I immediately remembered about the wolfs we've heard earlier, and decided the best thing to do was to stay in the tent and not make a sound. I then heard the steps as whatever that was waked closer and closer, until it was over the altar just a few feet away from where my head was located in my tent. It then started making noises in a bag we had left with the dirty packs where our food had been stored. I heard as it chewed through the leftovers and then a loud noise when some cups felt on the floor. That's when my uncle woke up, came out of his tent and saw a cat eating from our trash.

He scared the cat, and from that point on all I could hear was the sound of bats flying over our tents and the wind blowing in the woods that surrounded the campground. In the distance, I could still hear the wolfs howling.

Thankfully, the next morning was sunny. We eat a few sandwiches, packed our things as quick as we could and left the place once and for all. That was a night I will never forget.