A Brush With the Wild

JUNE 6, 2017


I have wanted to write about this incident for quite some time but things kept coming up and I just never got around to it. Last week, I finally decided that it was time and as I was recalling the events of that day, it occurred to me that this summer will mark its 10-year anniversary.

If you have been reading along with us, it should come as no surprise that I enjoy going on long drives. This has been the case since I was very young and that love only increased when I learned to drive. Sometimes I still enjoy being in the passenger seat and feeling the freedom to completely let go; to allow the driver to take control and plot our destination. Other times, I prefer being behind the wheel, embracing the sensation that only comes from touring back roads and taking the scenic routes between the small towns that everyone forgets about, as they speed through life's highways.

It was one of these trips that I am writing about now. Long before I had met John (it seems like a lifetime ago to me now), I was married to someone else. The only reason I even bring this up is because she was in the vehicle with me on this particular occasion and also saw what I did.

At that time, I lived in a place called Tweed. It is just a small village about half an hour north of Belleville, Ontario. If memory serves correctly, it was a weekend when we decided to take a leisurely drive north and on the way home, stopped by the old stomping grounds for a bite to eat before continuing home for the night. I can't recall now what made us decide to extend our drive longer than we had originally planned (we may have opted to make it a movie night) but by the time we had stopped in the village, eaten at one of our regular restaurants, we chose to return to the main road as it was just approaching dusk.

Now, this may seem like a bit of a tangent but it really isn't... just bear with me.

The highway south of the village was a fun road to drive, with long sweeping curves and quite a few straight stretches where one could really get their motor running if they were so inclined (not that I would ever... ever do that). However, people knew they had to be careful (the locals at least) because there were also a couple of hills that made great hiding spots where police cruisers with trained radar guns could make a killing issuing traffic offenses. I learned where the favourites of these spots were (don't ask how I discovered them) and always took extra vigilance when it came to my speed in these areas... much to the initial chagrin of drivers behind me.

Now back to the night in question...

There was one hill in particular that I knew I had to really slow down for and on this one evening, 10 years ago now, I'm so glad I did. Just as my vehicle was 3/4 of the way up the hill, I caught movement out of the corner of my eye. I initially thought it was likely a deer because they were known to cross this road often but what came out of the left-hand ditch was not a deer. To this day, I still can't tell you what it was. The large white and flesh tone creature bounded halfway across the two lane highway. It glanced ever so briefly at us, as if to see if our vehicle was still moving, before leaping the rest of the way across the road. It didn't just clear the pavement however, it made it completely into the foliage which was another 10-15 feet off the side of the road.

I was in awe. It took everything in me to remain focussed on driving. I saw that my passenger was looking off into the wooded area on the right; I hadn't been the only one to see it but I had to ask her just to get validation out loud. She agreed. She had seen... something.

It took me until we were at the bottom of the hill to safely slow down and stop. I turned us around because I wanted to see if we could see any sign of it running along the road. I wanted to see it again (from the safety of the car of course). Unfortunately, we didn't see anything even after several passes. I wanted to get out and look for prints or tracks but, after seeing it, I just wasn't that brave. With nothing left that we were willing to do, we drove home.

So, what did it look like?

First, it was big. I have seen black bears before and this creature was bigger than that but maybe not heavier. It had a lean, muscular build with the front legs seeming thicker and stronger. The face, to me, seemed cat-like (though the ex thought it was more hyena-looking) with white fur in patches around the head, neck, and shoulders, and bare skin everywhere else with tufts of fur almost like it had mange. If it wasn't for the size, I might have thought it was a big cat, like a cougar, but it was way too large for that.

I've driven through the area many times since that day and I always keep my eyes peeled for movement along the shoulders of the road but I haven't seen it since. I have never even heard of any other reports of any sightings... not even of anything similar. If it wasn't for there being two of us that day, I might have thought I was imagining it. Perhaps I will never know what it was that I saw that day but I also will never forget the experience.

I would love to know if anyone else has seen anything from that area. Or, have you had an experience from your own neck of the woods that you would like to share? Please leave a comment here or on Twitter or Facebook.