Camping Tales – The Sounds That Keep Us Awake

O'Leno State Park Florida

Two nights before Halloween, Dan and I were camping at O’Leno State Park in Florida during our trip to explore some of natural springs in the northern part of the state. We woke up at the same-time to the sound of amplified music/voices/beats/chanting/laughter which abruptly started at 2 AM sharp that could be heard coming from deep in the woods. The sounds were far enough away that we couldn’t make out what was being said or what song was being played. We lay awake in our tent, completely confused as to why anyone would START a party (or seance!?) at 2 AM on a Monday morning. After surveying Google maps and noticing no structures in the direction from which the sounds were coming, my imagination started running wild; “Who is it? How do you get speakers/microphone into the middle of the woods? Why START making noise at this time? Is this even a song? Is it a chant? There’s no chorus to this song. What are they saying?” Instead of trying to tune it out like Dan, who was falling in and out of sleep, was clearly doing – I was listening harder.

I could also hear coyotes (at least that’s what we think they were) going to town in the distance – barking, howling, and clearly fighting over something. “I don’t remember there being coyotes in Florida?” Then we we were both startled when, not a twig, but a large branch snapped a few feet away from our campsite. We unzipped the tent, hopped out, and pointed our headlamps towards the woods – hoping to catch a glimpse of the creature (or person?) creeping around our campsite. But nothing. Nothing but empty woods and a few teeny-tiny specs of green glowing lights on the forest floor, caused by our lamps shining into the eyes of spiders. We went back into the tent, slightly on edge. It was difficult to fall back asleep as the amplified man-made noises and coyote howling continued.

The last and final human noise that we heard coming from the woods was someone evil laughing into the microphone in this distance. You know the sound; the laughter a drunk person makes when you hand them the microphone at a crowded karaoke bar because it’s FINALLY their turn to have the microphone after signing up to sing three hours and ten beers ago. They get on stage, say something into the microphone, and are taken aback by the bravado in their voice. They deeply and drunkenly start evil laughing into the microphone, “MuahaHAHAHA!!!” That was the last sound we heard coming from the woods before drifting to sleep.

The next morning we woke up at sunrise. Having only gotten a little over 4 hours of sleep, we were in rough shape but determined to make the best of our day and go kayaking at one

O'Leno State Park Florida
Not happy to be waking up after the night we had.

of the nearby natural springs. Read about our Florida springs kayaking adventures here. On our way out of the park, we stopped at the ranger’s office and asked if he had heard anything the previous night. Nothing. “It was a quiet night. No complaints.” Not possible! Someone HAD to have heard something. Either way, the next evening we caught a couple raccoons walking around near our campsite. Ah…THAT explains the branch snapping – but it still doesn’t explain the rest of the noises we heard. I guess it will remain a mystery.

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