The Gut Button


TOPIC: Hair Raising Experience

For this month’s writing topic, I am to write about anything related to the words “hair raising.” It doesn’t take me long to find my subject as immediately two things come to mind that are within the last decade of my memory bank.

Twice I have felt “hair raising” fear.

You know the kind, where the air gets thick, time slows down, your deathly silent, your heart echos in your ear and those little tingly hairs on the back of your neck raise. Your fight or flight button knows it’s about to be pressed. I heard if you take an emotion and tie it to an event, it burns in your memory.

This is my account of one of those experiences.

Just a side note before I explain. No physical harm took place. Even one of which my children can remember. In fact it wasn’t long ago at the supper table that my daughter brought up the memory – but for a different reason. We were talking about what it means to have a “gut” feeling or what intuition meant.


WHEN: June, 2011.

WHERE: Sea-To-Sky Highway. Just west of Lillooet, BC on our way to Whistler, BC for my son’s Canada West’s Spring Hockey Finals.

I knew deep in my bones that we were in danger by another human being. I couldn’t prove it, today and to the reader, it might even sound silly. But i know what I experienced.

I can’t present factual recordable evidence on how I can be sure of what I experienced and how it had any bearing on reality – only by that of my “gut” feeling and from what I saw as there was something “off” about the other’s demeanour.  Their body language and the situation didn’t add up. In fact, I even reported it to the police when I was able.

As to the first story, I’ll try to explain the scenario the best that I can.  Maybe its something that you had to be there to experience but I can fully assure you that these events are burned into my memory and I can still “see” it vividly.  They are not vague nor are they delusions or moments of emotional irrationality. Maybe it was because I could see how their eyes stared straight at me, unblinking and intense as they were assessing the situation themselves.

It was June 2011 and we were travelling from Edmonton AB to Whistler BC for my son’s last hockey tournament.  At the time he was playing for CANWEST Hockey Club based out of Edmonton and we were going to some big season end tournament.  While most flew and then drove via Vancouver up the coast on to Whistler, we decided to take the Sea-to-Sky highway that cut SW from Cache Creek onto a little town called Lilloeet, BC.

The drive was beautiful and the scenery was like nothing I’d seen before.  The road from Cache Creek to Lilloeet was curvy and steep  as it winded its way towards the massive coastal mountains.  My ex was loving it as it proved to be a motivating challenge as he would attempt to see how our vehicle would “handle” the road.  We were driving a four door 2010 white Jeep Sahara. I had the usual death grip on the handles telling him to slow down as I stared at the road ahead – as if the power of my stare kept us attached upright to the road and safe.  I didn’t even get to enjoy the scenery as I was less than impressed with the apparent challenge.  This would be why my daughter remembers the trip well as she protested the challenge in her own way when she puked in the back seat.   This put an ended to the insanity.

Soon we were in Lilloeet, stopped for gas and grabbed some munchies as we were about to enter the very secluded and very curvy back alley highway taking us up and through these massive coastal mountains onto Whistler.  We were told to expect a beautiful drive.

Google Map of Lilloee

As we meandered our way through the small town, crossed over the river on the bridge and started to wind up the mountain, the paved road started to become claustrophobic as trees became dense with foliage narrowing the path.

It wasn’t long after, maybe 10 minutes or even less of climbing up the steep grade of the mountain that I could see a station wagon pulled over on the wrong side of the road, facing us. You know the kind the Griswald’s drove on their Christmas vacation. The hood was propped up and there were two men dressed in the usual lower mainland garb – a cross between grunge, hippie-wanna-be, and surfer.

I need to pause here for a second and validate the reason why I became concerned at this moment.  I had just graduated the year before and was working as a personal trainer for the past year in Edmonton. Daily we observe and “see” the movement mechanics of people bodies, their ranges of motion, and areas of restricted movement.  Even after graduation, we would take course after course, in-house and out of country, and mentoring under the experience of Athletic therapists often with professional and semi professional athletes.  A person starts to naturally watch everyone around them and how they move, making a quick visual assessments.  It comes naturally with nature of the job.

Back to the story…..

We are quickly approaching this vehicle so my ex begins to slow down as if to stop to see if they need help.  It was during this time, I saw one of the men, the blonde one, look straight at us then reach through the passenger side window, which obvious was rolled down, and quickly grab something off the seat and stand straight up, stiff like.

From the split second moments that it took for us to reach them, and from my curiosity of watching that man duck in quickly, was all it took to make my warning buttons go off. I started “checking off” my assessment of his body movements.

My ex started to roll down my passenger window, and as a reaction to my spider senses, I slammed down my hand on the switch and stopped it looking at him with a death stare as if to say “WTF are you doing?”  – which confused him and annoyed him at the same time. The window ended up being opened about 6 or 8 inches or so, enough to allow for conversation.

As we were nearing our last few feet, closing the distance, I could see the man who grabbed something through the window correct his movements, or adjust to accommodate our line of sight, as if to conceal what he had in his hand as when he had returned to an upright position he swept his hand quickly behind his back under his shirt.  I did see something small but bigger than his palm that was black as he did this.  It wasn’t a wallet.  It wasn’t a cellphone.  It was something he didn’t want us to see and he was hiding it as his arm was not in a natural position. His movement was constricted and forced.  His body was tense. He didn’t flow naturally.

He was hiding something and he could see in my eyes that I knew it.

The other guy who approached us was the talkative one.  He had longish dark hair, teal v-neck t-shirt and was being friendly with my ex.  My ex naturally asked if they needed help.  They said that they needed a part for the engine (this is where the detail gets lost as I know nothing about vehicles and I don’t care to know).  I️ was focused on the blonde man. The dark haired guy leans foreword, looks through my window to see what we had in the back seats, which of course were my 9 year old son and 7 year old daughter.  When he saw my kids, I could see his hand that was down by his side signal his buddy like a little flick of the fingers as if to say back off. The blonde man sees that saw this signal.

I can not explain the heaviness I felt.  It was like my heart beat became very concentrated – I could hear it ring in my ears and everything was going in slow motion as I was hyper sensitive to movement and watching the blonde man’s eyes. He looked at me and I looked at him. The hair stood on the back of my neck and I knew that whatever these men were up to, it was not good….. and besides, it made no sense, the grade of the mountain was quite significant and they were facing down the mountain.  Put it in neutral and coast down the hill and you will get right to town.

It was all wrong.

My ex satisfied he did his due diligence, smiled and waved, put the jeep into gear and continued onto the left side moving past them.

When we were a safe distance away, I told my ex there is something wrong with that scene. Those men were up to no good.  He dismissed my comment and told me I was seeing things, but just as the words left his mouth, two people emerged from the bush and stepped onto the road.  One had a cut on his forehead and they were dirty as if they were rolling on the ground. They were clothed much like the other two, the same ages and started walking in the direction of the broken down car we had just passed. We had startled them.

As we drove by, they looked at us and we looked at them.

I had told Tyler to give me the cell phone i was calling the police, but as I opened it I noticed we didn’t have service and we were not going to make our way back, pass them I again and head to town to report them. So I had to wait a while for cell service.

I figured worse case scenerio, Lilloeet was in a secluded enough area it would take them awhile to deviate off the one way in, one way out town. In any case, my Adrenalin was running and I remember that moment well.

Maybe to another it is nothing. But for me, I remember it like it was yesterday.

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