In May of 1977, I undertook my first motorcycle trip from the East Coast to the West Coast. After enduring the wind-numbing flatness of the Midwest, I arrived in the land of 14ers. The ride from Ouray to Silverton was a dream come true, as the road was in magnificent shape. Apparently, it had been a dry winter, déjà vu? There was little traffic, phenomenal scenery, and I was lucky enough to arrive at a French restaurant in Silverton. I asked my sweet waitress where I could camp for free. Being an enlisted Navy man, I was on a shoestring budget. She, matter of factly, said to camp in the cemetery on the hill. For a minute, I thought it was April Fool’s Day and I was being had, but she was serious. She said that nobody would mess with me. Being the gullible fool, I took her advice and camped in the cemetery.
Having lived on the East Coast for 21 years, I was used to warm, humid conditions in May, but the clueless one was camping at 9,400 feet in dry and very frigid conditions. Being the minimalist, I had a sleeping bag but no tent, pad, etc. I proceeded to turn into a popsicle.
Approximately an hour after trying to fall asleep, a full moon appeared between the peaks, and some coyotes or wolves, within relatively close distance, started howling. Being stationed on a destroyer in N.Y.C., you get ot hear many strange things but not of the four-legged variety.
Shortly thereafter, a pickup truck pulled adjacent to me. Two men stepped out, and with slurred speech said, “What should we do with him?” Naturally, I thought they were talking about me, since I could clearly see them, and I assumed they could see me. However, that was not the case. They walked to the back of the truck, lowered the tailgate. One man grabbed a set of legs, the other handled the shoulders, and tossed the body over the side of the hill! This had to be the most surreal moment of my life! These desperados quickly drove away, and I proceeded to shake and shiver for the rest of the night. I don’t have PTSD, but I still have nightmares about my scariest night in Silverton!
Dana Hodge [Editor’s note: Given that Mr. Hodge’s story raised obvious questions, DGO called him for further details. First, did he ever call the police? No. Having been out all night in the freezing cold, he admitted to being in shock, both from the temperature and from seeing what he saw. He was also “scared to death,” he said. All he wanted to do was get on his bike and ride down to the warmer climes of Durango. Was he sure he saw what he saw? Yes. It was full moon. In retrospect, he said, he probably should have reported his experience. Mark Esper, longtime editor of the Silverton Standard, could not remember any unsolved murders in Silverton from 1977. Mr. Hodge swears his story is true an accurate.]