This week I went out the the Great Sand Dunes wilderness area to shoot some night photos. I went out Tuesday night which usually means I don't run into a soul while under dark sky. I ran into some strange stuff...
After I got to the dunes I parked and locked the car up. I walked in from the main parking lot towards high dune. It snowed throughout most of the front range and it was COLD at the park. The creek was frozen except for some of the stronger areas of flow. Ice was everywhere and it was windy but the skies were clear as far as I could see. I took photos of the creek and set one of my cameras up to take a star trail shot over the next 3 hours. I see two headlamps coming down the dunes and approaching the creek (it's like 1 AM). I lit the creek up under the guise of helping them cross Medano easier but I did want to see what they were up to as well. Two guys crossed the creek and changed shoes by me and my camera gear.
These 2 talked with me for about 5 minutes and since they didn't jump me I assumed they were all right! They told me they were paranormal researches from Lafyette, CO and they were looking into Native American beliefs around the dunes area. They said that the San Luis Valley was known for strange activity and they wanted to come out under a new moon to the park. They asked me the time and talked about it being late and getting back. I watched as their headlamps went off into the distance again and I was reasonably sure they had left the area.
An hour passes and I am getting cold from wandering around Medano Creek in the middle of the night. I figure I should head back to my car and warm up for a bit before setting out again. As I head across the dunes and head back to my car, something trips my car alarm. Fred Focus' alarm blares through the valley. 2 quick things about my alarm: 1) My key fob sucks. I can hardly get in my car at times because the remote I keep in my pocket is almost dead. I have to walk up within a foot of my car for the remote or panic button to work. Sometimes my daughter Daria can't even get in my car when she has the remote. 2) I have a nice alarm in this car, it monitors multiple entries on the car and it rarely, if ever, trips on accident. If it's been tripped its usually because the car has been bumped or moved in some way. I was about a football field away from the car.
As I get nearer to the car, I come around a small group of trees and round the bend; I see the inside dome light turn off. Here's the thing, the dome light is not connected to the alarm system. It's a switch inside the vehicle, a manual tripped switch. The dome light does not activate when the alarm is tripped-it has to be turned on from inside the car. And it turned OFF as I approached the car. The car was still locked when I got to it, and the alarm system notified me with a special tone that it had been tripped. I walked a circle around the car and I was really cold at this point. There was a circle of liquid by one of the back tires, like someone had peed there. Remember when I said it was all ice crystally at the park? Everything but one area by the car was frozen. I couldn't see where this spot had come from in the middle of the night. I searched the area with a spotlight I had and saw nothing. I got into the car and warmed up, kinda creeped out but I figured it was just something strange with the cars electrical system.
I set back out after about 30 minutes. I got back to a camera I had set up for trails and retrieved it. The Milky Way was up in the sky and I took photos for awhile. I kept hearing snaps, like sticks moving or breaking. I scanned with the spotlight across the tree line and dunes and didn't see anything. Maybe I am crazy. The car's alarm starts going off again, there's no wind, no sound and nobody around I can discern for at least a mile. I grab all my stuff and make a beeline towards my car. I felt like I needed to leave at this point. The hairs on my arms were standing up and I had that "being watched" feeling you sometimes get. As I'm heading out I feel pushed out of the area, harried is what comes to mind. I came around the corner and the car's parking lights turn off (these are connected to the system so this could be electrical, I don't know). I get to the car and there's a second wet spot by the car, near the front of the car this time. All the other parts of the ground are still cold and frozen.
I throw my things in the car after unlocking it and scan the area with the spot again; I can't find anyone or hear any animals around me. It's super quiet and still. I started the car, which started reluctantly (cold or drained I don't know), and zipped out of the area faster than I should have legally.
My dad was a wilderness survival teacher and I am not unfamiliar with the wilderness at night. I have had a few unexplained things happen in my life, but this night I will not soon forget. A skeptic can say its the electrics on the car and matrixing of the mind--and I am okay with that. It could also be 2 guys with way too much free time on their hands at 3 am in the cold. I can't explain the feeling I had out there and I can't explain the dome light at the end of this story. I will be paying attention next time I visit the park. Below are some photos I took that night and the time lapse photo I mentioned earlier in this blog post.