1. Deep in The Aspen Grove
This story takes place in August of 2013, in the mountains of Southern Oregon. I am a USAF Security Forces Airman (military policeman). My girlfriend was at work, and as a swelteringly hot day began to turn into thunderstorms, my buddy Nick (another military cop) and I decided to go explore some back roads and get out of the heat in town.
Southern Oregon is criss-crossed with logging roads, some actively used, and many totally forgotten and grown over. Nick and I spent many of our days off starting on roads that we knew, finding roads we didn’t know, driving for hours into the mountains, eventually navigating back to paved roads. On this particular day, with storm clouds building over the mountains, we set off on a road we had never been on, and began the drive into the mountains.
After driving for around an hour, we hadn’t seen nor heard any signs of other people in the woods. We rounded a bend in the thick fir woods, and emerged in a meadow that was totally surrounded by thick aspen groves. The meadow was perfectly flat, and eerily still. We both noticed the strange stillness almost immediately; no birds, hardly any insect noise, no squirrels, and certainly no other people. On the far side of the meadow, right at the edge of the tree-line, there was a picnic table. The table was very odd, however. It was painted a bright orange, and was much larger than a typical picnic table in a park. Remarking on this, Nick drove through the meadow to get a closer look.
I remember being apprehensive as we approached. The whole scenario was exceptionally strange; the overall silence of the aspen grove was unsettling. Also, it was nearly impossible to see far into the trees as aspens grow extremely close together. When we parked by the table, I hopped out of the passenger seat of the truck to check it out. I’m not very tall, only about 5’5″, regardless, the table was ridiculously oversized and practically unusable. The seats were nearly at chest level, meaning I would have to climb up to even sit on them.
As I was looking at the table, Nick called me over to the truck, and I noticed he was looking back into the aspens. At first, I couldn’t see what he was looking at, but then I noticed a splash of color that was completely out of place in the thick trees. A small one man tent was set back in the trees, about 50 feet from the strange table.
I had an initial feeling of dread, and felt certain that there was someone in the tent, and if we could see the tent, they could see us. There were no campgrounds in this area; no people, no main roads for miles. Surely someone camping so remotely would be, at the very least, a strange person. However, as we observed the tent, we didn’t see any movement or hear any sounds coming from it. Nick suggested I call out; I didn’t want to, but I did. “Hey! Anyone in there?”, I yelled.
No reply. Feeling completely on edge, Nick and I thought about driving away and leaving this strange area. But we began to fear the worst; what if there was a body in the tent? What if somebody had gotten kidnapped? Foolish, I know, but we thought it, all the same.
After some debate, we decided to have Nick turn the truck around to drive away from the camp; should we need to leave in a hurry, he would be waiting behind the wheel. With my heart pounding, I started walking through the trees towards the tent. I was totally keyed up with my senses on full alert. When I reached the “campsite”, several things struck me as odd. Backpacks were scattered all over. No fire had been built, no wood collected. The tent… The tent was literally full of backpacks, and women’s clothing. Full of dread, I turned to leave and tell Nick what I had seen. As I left, I heard Nick start yelling.
“Let’s go! Let’s get the fuck out of here!” Not knowing why he was yelling, I ran back to the truck. When I broke out of the trees, I saw a beat up old Ford Taurus on the road, blocking us from leaving the meadow. I immediately leapt into the passenger seat, and Nick floored the gas pedal. The car was occupied by two men; a third person was laying against the window in the back. As we drove across the meadow, the driver attempted to block us from the road, but Nick drove around them and accelerated the way we had come from. I looked back and saw the car attempting to turn around on the narrow road. Nick drove like a mad man, and though I was honestly terrified that they would catch up, we hit the the highway without seeing the car again. I still do not know if the person in the back was male or female.
I called the State Police, and they promised to send a Trooper out to check out the scene. However, I received a call the next day from a Trooper stating that the campsite, the back packs, and the women’s clothing was all gone, though he could tell people had been in the area. The strange table was still by the thick aspen grove. I have not returned to the area, and do not intend to.
2. “It Sounded Like Ten People Running From Me In Every Direction”
To preface this, I want to say last year I spent about 32 days in the woods either scouting, hunting ,or fishing. The year before that, I spent about 22 days, this doesn’t include my regular hunts and camping adventures, which in the past 3 years adds up to just over 100 days. I’ve been hunting since I was 9, and have spent a lot of time outdoors, in various different parts of the US, and in Canada. I’ve seen/heard a lot of strange shit, but this takes the cake.
I was in Cohutta (North Georgia Wilderness) for 7 days scouting for bears, wild hogs, and deer, prepping for a hunting trip later that year. I had hiked in about 10 miles , and then went off trail for another 3-5 miles, basically, I was out in the middle of nowhere. Since I was alone, I was using a hammock that has a built in bug net, and I had a rain fly over it. I spent about 3 days half way up a mountain, just looking for a good place to hunt. I saw 3-4 good size bears, about 10 hogs, and came across some good size deer.
On the 4th day, I was going to head down to a small stream that I had marked on my GPS, and then setup camp, restock on water, and prep for the 2 day hike back (I could have gone faster, but wanted to be able to look for any animal sign along the way). As I was approaching this small stream, I noticed a tent which I was excited to see, as I had been completely alone for a few days and it’s always nice to run into another hiker (generally us wilderness folks are pretty down to earth). As I got closer to the tent, I noticed that there was a small pack on the ground just outside of it. I figured the person couldn’t have been to far from where the camp was, so I set up my camp about 30 yards away, and with about 4 hours of daylight left, started cooking some dinner. 2 hours later, I was starting to wonder where this person was, Given that I was in the wilderness, and it was a 1+ day hike out, there wasn’t much I could do, but I did hike around the site, making a circle as I went out, to look for any signs of struggle (in case of a bear attack) or maybe they had an injury. I got about a 1/4 of a mile from the camp site, walking a circle, but I didn’t find anything.
As night came, no one showed. I started a fire, in hopes that the person would be able to find where they setup, and have some light. Fires burn really bright, and are very easy to see from far away. After eating, searching, and hoping that the person was going to make it back, I called it a night. I had a small flask with me and took a couple sips of whisky, jumped into my hammock with my pistol, and attempted to go to sleep.
I sleep pretty hard, I mean, really hard, regardless of where I am. It literally annoys my friends, because I can always seem to fall asleep, and stay asleep, regardless of where in the world we are. But this night was different, I felt like something was off, but I figured it was just me worrying about this person, who, by all my accounts, was completely missing.
So, for the first time in my life, I woke up to the sound of what I thought was foot steps, but not in the sense of foot steps on leafs, but what a heavy footed person would make walking on an old wood floor. It was extremely loud. I got my gun, grabbed my headlamp, stored in a small compartment up above me, and waited to see if it would stop, right at that moment, it did.
Then I saw something that scared the shit out of me, on my rain fly, the gleam of a flashlight, faint, but there. I shouted “HELLO?” and right when I did, it sounded like 10 people suddenly running away from me in every direction. I dropped out of my hammock on to the ground, frantically turning on my headlamp shining it all around me , but didn’t see shit. My heart was racing pretty bad, but I thought it might have just been the reflection of the moon on the rainfly, yeah, that was it, and those footsteps running away from me was probably armadillos, or something, even though their eyes shine, and they are pretty easy to spot. Problem was there was no moon. I’d never seen an armadillo above 2000ft (not to say they don’t live up there, just never seen one), and for some reason, the camp site I set up by was gone.
The fire had been put out, by water, it was apparent because there was not a damn coal in the thing. I thought for sure it was about 4am, but I had only been asleep about an hour.
At this point, I wanted to leave, but hiking out in the wilderness while it’s dark is always a bad idea. So I grabbed my flask, took a swig of whisky, removed my rain fly so I could see out of my hammock and around the area I was in, and tried my hardest to go back to sleep.
I laying down when I saw some light hit the trees above me, it was clear it was coming from down stream, and I got out of my hammock and started yelling “hey, y’all need any help?”. No response. I saw whatever was putting out the light, and it spun around and started heading down stream, really fast.
At this point my body had pumped through adrenaline then it had blood, and I was exhausted from it all. I finally was able to fall asleep, and woke up around 7AM.
When I did, I noticed that my water filter I had left out was missing, its a gravity filter, and it hangs on a tree filtering water down into my main bladder that I put in my backpack, and my water bladder (sitting at the base of a tree) looked like it was cut down the middle with a knife. They cut down my bear bag (which had food in it) and took some of it.
The creepiest part of all of it was that they went through my bag, which was under my hammock, while I was sleeping. I checked the bearbag before I went back to sleep the 2nd time, and it was still there, hanging, and my bag under my hammock hadn’t been touched. I packed all my shit and hightailed it out of there, keeping my pistol close to me and moving as fast as I could, I ended up making the hike back in just under 15 hours, I hiked the trail part in the night, because I wasn’t about to spend another night out there. I didn’t seen anyone on my hike out, there were no cars parked at the trail head, and the DNR said they had only seen my car there.
Since then, I haven’t gone out there without any friends.
I reported all of this to the local DNR, but they looked at me like I was crazy. Maybe I am.
3. A Kitten A Day
I used to live deep in the Santa Cruz mountains and often hiked and camped there growing up. As a teenager I went hiking on a secluded trail and as I often would I’d take a nap on a sleeping bag I’d bring and take off my shoes and dip my feet in the creek. One day I woke up and my shoes were gone and in their place was a pile of rocks. I still cannot explain that one And it still freaks me out. I moved back when I was 25, and rented a small Cottage on a very large property far up in the mountains of Bonny Doon. It was really rural and secluded and pitch black at night. I’d often hear screams of coyotes in the distance. We had some cats on the property that were friendly and one had a litter of kittens. They were really cute and I would take them in and feed them. There was a point where I was all alone on the property and one morning I came out and one of the kittens was laid across my doorstep, dead. No trauma, no sign of anything wrong with it. It wasn’t even cold enough for them to freeze. The little kitten I had played with the day before was dead. This happened for a week until all the kittens were dead and laid somewhere near my door in the morning. I was terrified. Soon after things started disappearing from my cottage. I ended up leaving pretty quickly. I never felt a sense of ease in those woods, they scared me my whole life and I don’t know why.