I grew somewhat anxious as my exboyfriend, Paul, drove down an old gravel road leading to seemingly nowhere. He finally pulled up to a small church that looked like it hadn’t seen people in years and parked his big red pick-up truck in the empty parking lot. Something was definitely off.
“It’s about a 20 minute hike through the woods to get to the quarry,” Paul explained to me and our friends Olivia and Brendan as we grabbed our beach bags and the beer out of the truck.
“There was nowhere closer to park?” I asked glancing around suspiciously. We were really far out in the country. No civilization in sight.
“Well, there is,” Paul revealed. “But if we parked closer to the quarry, we would tip off the cops.”
“Uhh, the cops?” Brendan asked nervously as we began our journey through the trail behind the church which led into a large forest.
“Well, this quarry I found is abandoned.” Paul attempted to clarify. I was too embarrassed to ask what a quarry was. Paul kept talking, “but from what I read online this morning, it turns out that it’s still private property.”
“So we’re not allowed to go there?” I asked as we turned and started down a steep path. The branches on the floor were poking my feet through my flip flops. Not the best hiking shoes. I didn’t know I’d signed up for hiking when I’d agreed to come on this excursion the week before.
“It’s fine,” Paul rolled his eyes as I toddled down the hill unsteadily. He always was way more outdoorsy than I could ever be. Than I would ever want to be. “I found it last week when I was riding my bike. It was so hot that day, so when I found it, it felt like a miracle. I just jumped in and went for a swim. There was no one else around.”
I had to admit, it sounded pretty cool. Like out of a movie. But it also sounded dangerous. What if he had drowned? He’d be missing, and nobody would have found him for days! Despite the red bathing suit I was wearing under my black t-shirt and floral shorts, I wasn’t entirely sure I felt comfortable swimming in a quarry, whatever it was.
As we walked, the bright August sun trickled down on us through the sparse openings between the tall tree branches that protected us. The fallen leaves crunched beneath our feet. The hike to the quarry felt like it took forever. There were so many turns and dips in the trail, I began to wonder if Paul was just taking us around in circles, hoping to stumble onto the quarry like he had the first time. There was no way he’d memorized every tree in this forest!
Eventually, we approached a clearing on our path, and when I turned to look to my right, I saw the quarry. It was breathtaking. It appeared to be a deep pit had been carved out of the large rock that surrounded it, and in the middle was a large lake with crystal clear water. Grassy sand surrounded it. To get to the base, we had to zigzag down the forest’s hill. As we began our descent, the bushes to our left started rustling. Paul signalled for us to stop walking and whispered, “I saw a coyote out here last week.”
My stomach dropped. A coyote!? As much as a loved animals, I did not want one to catch me trekking through his home. I knew this whole thing was a bad idea! I knew we shouldn’t have come here! This was dangerous. The air was tight as we watched the coyote’s beak poke through the hedge and then jerk it back again. It slowly strutted onto the path in front of us, revealing its huge round Thanksgiving body and turned its head in our direction. We breathed out half a sigh of relief. It wasn’t a coyote after all! It was a wild turkey! He gobbled loudly, before spreading his wings and flying away from us, very low to the ground, disappearing back into the forest. Wow! I didn’t even know turkeys could fly!
I started to relax a bit. This was a really cool experience. By the time we made it to the base of the quarry, I was actually glad Paul had convinced me to come along. The sun was now bathing us, as we laid out our beach towels, so we could sit down and relax. We each opened a can of beer and cheersed for Paul’s discovery of this gem. Out of the corner of my eye, a littered cigarette pack suggested that Paul had not been the first person to uncover it.
“We should try camping here!” Brendan exclaimed excitedly.
“I don’t know…” Paul disagreed, “we really wouldn’t really be able to pitch a tent on this type of ground. And there’s no where really to start a fire.”
“That’s true,” Brendan nodded thoughtfully. “But we still have to come back here. Like a once a month, every month in the summer!”
“Guys..” Olivia declared, looking back into the forested area we had come from. “We have company.”
I whipped my head around in a panic. I knew this was a bad idea. Coming through the path we’d taken was a young couple, they looked about our age. They walked to the end of the quarry furthest from us and laid out a blanket. They took off their shorts and shirts and jumped into the quarry together. It was kind of romantic.
“I’m going in too,” Paul declared, chugging back the rest of his beer. He looked at me as he took off his shirt, “you coming?”
I shook my head. “I can’t. Too scared.”
Brendan decided to go swimming with Paul and Olivia finished rolling her joint, then walked away to smoke it. I sat alone on my towel, enjoying the last of my beer. I was feeling good now. I just couldn’t believe a place like this even existed. So calm, so undisturbed, except of course by us, and that other random couple. It was nice to just get out of the city for a little while, without having to drive too far away. It was nice to enjoy nature.
I laid down on my tummy, propping myself up on my shoulders, taking it all in. So this is what a quarry was. It was like a huge pond of water, cut out of a small mountain. Behind me, the green forest surrounded one side, while in front of me yellow stone walled in the water. Birds flew peacefully chirping over head. A warm breeze rustled through my hair. A bug buzzed by my ear. White trees lined the road that two police cars were driving down. Hey! I sat up. There was a road there?! Then why did we hike so far?! Wait a minute! Cops?! I knew this was a bad idea.
“Paul!” I called out with quiet urgency. I tried not to move a muscle. I didn’t want to attract any attention.
Paul and Brendan got out of the water and quickly hid the beer cans while Olivia tossed her joint away. The police cars drove around the quarry, right by the other couple, and directly to our spot. Two policemen got out of the first car, while the other car idled behind. “Good afternoon folks.”
“Hello,” we replied in unison, all of us standing up straight, smiling as politely as possible.
“This here is private property.” The taller police officer informed us.
“Oh. Sorry. We didn’t know,” Paul said, shaking water out of his hair. Bullshit. He knew. I didn’t know! But I knew we shouldn’t have come. “We just found it while hiking.”
“There are private property signs at the end of all the trails that lead here.” The cop informed us. As soon as he said it, I noticed one. I squinted past him. There were two more not more than 20 feet away from us, in either direction. Uh oh.
“Is that your green Toyota Yaris parked down on Hwy 98?” Asked the other cop. We shook our heads. He looked around and spotted the other couple that had been swimming in the quarry were trying to make a break for it, back into the forest! He signalled to the other car, and that police cruiser zipped around and cut the couple off, right in their tracks. They announced over the car’s external speakers, “remain where you are. You are trespassing on private property.”
“Are you with them?” Our cop asked. We shook our heads again. Thank God. It sounded like they were about to get in some real trouble. “This area is closed to the public. The owner does not want people swimming here. It’s extremely dangerous, and if anything were to happen, he would be liable.”
We understood. We acknowledged that we were in the wrong. And for a split second, I thought they might let us off with a warning. But then he said, “I’m going to have to see everyone’s ID, please.”
“I left mine in the car,” Paul admitted, patting his swimming trunks where his wallet normally would be.
“Yeah, us too,” Olivia and Brendan added quickly.
“Well, I have mine!” I piped in, relieved that I had finally done something right. I reached for my purse inside my beach bag, hoping it would earn me some brownie points in this situation. It would not.
“Come with me, ma’am,” the officer instructed, taking my ID and leading me away from my friends. I stood outside his car as he punched in my driver’s license number into his computer. After a few minutes, he informed me, “so unfortunately, because you’re the only one with ID, you’re the only one who can get a trespassing ticket.”
What?! Curse my lack of street skills. Had they all known that?! Had they all conveniently forgotten their IDs because of that?! Lucky. I wish I had known. I knew something bad was going to happen. I felt my face turn red, and I wondered if it was actually possible to be so angry steam floods out of your ears.
“If they’re good friends,” the cop continued, “they’ll all help you pay for it.”
Of course they were. I knew they would. But I didn’t really care about the money. I was just annoyed that I was taking the fall. That we’d hiked for 30 minutes, only to be exposed by some dumb couple and their green Toyota Yaris! That I knew all along this had been a bad idea, but I’d gone along with it anyway. Suddenly that question on every job application form jumped to my mind. Have you ever been convicted of a felony?
I bit my bottom lip nervously, as I asked with a shaky voice, “so does this go on my permanent record?”
“No, no,” the cop smiled up at me. “A trespassing ticket is a minor misdemeanour. Not even as serious as a speeding ticket. It’s not a criminal charge or anything.”
Phew. I graciously accepted my trespassing ticket, relieved. It wasn’t a big deal. Plus now, I’d finally earned a little street cred.