Night Sounds of the Forest

Night Camping Passamagamet Lake
A sandy beach campsite on the shores of Passamagamet Lake, Maine

“I think I hear a noise.” she said as she climbed deeper into the sleeping bag.  I also heard the noise but didn’t think much of it—it’s the far reaches of northern Maine and “noises” are common in the forest after dark so I elected to stay warmly in my bag hoping she’d fall back asleep.  Well that wasn’t going to happen.  “Aren’t you going to check it out?” she asks from underneath the mighty sleeping bag in her best defensive position.  Well to be truthful I hadn’t intended to, but feeling her nervous grip on my hand tighten even more, I figured I’d better do something or it might not be the best camping trip of the season.  “Sure.” I said in my deepest, most manly voice I could conjure up at this early hour, “I will see what all the commotion is about.”

I grudgingly slipped out of the warmth of the sleeping bag into the cool night air and quietly unzipped the front of our tent in search of the origin of the odd sounds.  The strange part is I wasn’t hearing the somewhat familiar sounds most campers are used to hearing.  You know, the sounds of a nosy, hungry bear looking for a free meal or the chattering of raccoons as they destroy a campsite…I was hearing things I’d never heard in the woods before.  Not scary sounds mind you, just intriguing and unsettling sounds because of their unfamiliarity.  I was totally perplexed by what exactly could be making all the strange sounds I was hearing, the sounds were certainly increasing in their frequency and intensity.

As I peered intently out into the semi-light I tried to get my eyes to adjust to the scene before me in the slowly oncoming dawn.  The shadows that were present were playing tricks on my eyes, but through the gloom I could make out the shape of my airplane parked safely on the beach merely a hundred feet away.  As much as I tried I could not see anything unusual in the direction I’d been hearing the noises—or could I?  As I looked more intently and my eyes adjusted to the faint light, I could see shapes moving quite adeptly on the floats of the Super Cub.  Not just one or two shapes mind you, there appeared to be three and possibly even a fourth!

After hearing my nervous tent-mate ask for the umpteenth time what it was that was making those noises, it finally dawned on me—I was watching a family of otters having a blast playing on the floats of the plane and chattering up a storm while splashing around in the water in the still of the early morning twilight.  I knew I’d go out to that airplane after they’d left and find evidence of many fresh water clams on and around the floats of the Cub, those little critters were having a feast and my floats were their dining room table!  Now that was the easy part, my next task was to try and explain to my anxious female companion that river otters are not man-eating monsters intent on catching us unaware in the tent…

Author: Shawn R Michaud

I've flown airplanes since I was a teenager and retired from the United States Navy after over 24 years of service. Now I fly commercially in addition to flying my Super Cub for fun.

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