“Shh … listen,” I whispered to Tyler, cutting off our lively debate about the state of the world and the existence of alien life. We peered into the darkness toward the purring engine sound that had just caught my ear. “Does that sound like a four-wheeler to you?”
Ambient ATV sounds in the west desert are commonplace — but not this far out. And not at 2 a.m.
A soft red light scattered on the junipers surrounding our makeshift camp as the sound crept steadily closer. Seconds later, a spotlight illuminated the hillside below us. Was it a couple of kids out for a twilight ride who, from the immense web of trails that overlays the Deep Creek Mountains, just happened to pick the same path we did, or had we been followed by somebody with malicious intent?
Gut instinct told us to leave, but the overgrown road beyond where we had stopped would be a bit more than Tyler’s little Chevy Prism could handle. And heading back down the canyon would ensure a confrontation. The ATVs — it was now clear that there were two — rolled toward us and stopped just out of sight. All we could do was wait.
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