18 Hikers Share Their Riveting Tales Of Being Terrified All Alone In The Woods With Nowhere To Run

via Unsplash - Caleb George
via Unsplash – Caleb George

1. A Whole Family Of Voices In The Wilderness

Most unsettling night I recall was a September night on top of Humpback Mountain near Rockfish Gap, VA. The fog was about the thickest I’d ever seen during the day and it only got thicker at night. Sounds were muted, everything was drippy wet, and it was very peaceful/ethereal hiking during the day. I normally like foggy days.

That night about 11, I started hearing children’s laughter off in the distance, fading in and out but gradually coming up the mountain – not following the course of a trail, but coming straight up the sides. I could make out three distinct children’s voices and one adult female’s voice. Eventually it sounded like they were passing right through my campsite and should have been close enough to see, but I never saw anyone. All I could hear was laughter right up close and the occasional mumbled word, but I couldn’t make out what they were saying. The sound stopped abruptly soon after it got close and didn’t start back up again.

I often wonder if it was just a strange acoustical phenomenon due to the fog, but I can’t explain how the voices got closer, why they stopped, or why a woman and three children would be playing loudly outside on a cold, dark, intensely foggy autumn night.

2. Unwanted Traveling Companions

This story occurred in the summer of 2008. I grew up in Oregon and was acquainted with the outdoors at an early age. My favorite hobby came to be hiking, particularly in areas that are either very dangerous or isolated. The health benefits of hiking were secondary to the thrills of walking the edges of exposed cliffs, being in cougar and bear territory, and knowing that I was far from help. ‘Into the Wild’ was released in the fall of 2007 and I immediately fell in love. Being a high school senior, I could barely go another week living in my parents’ house. The movie spoke to my sense of adventure and inspired me to hike the California portion of the Pacific Crest Trail upon graduation.

I made it from the Mexico border to northern California without much incident. I saw rattlesnakes and black bears, experienced dehydration, but nothing happened that made me fear for my life. Somewhere in the Lassen National Forest in northeastern California, I walked around a bend in the trail only to be startled by two people sitting on a rock dressed in nearly all white. Their faces were dirty, their appearance disheveled, and the man had a long unkempt beard. Both seemed to be in their forties. They looked like the couple who kidnapped Elizabeth Smart. What struck me as odd about the encounter was encountering anybody at all. I frequently went days without seeing a single human being. Their white clothes could be explained away by the need to escape the California summer sun. Their scruffy appearance could be explained away by the fact that most thru-hikers abandon personal hygiene on the trail. After I said hello, they said nothing and simply watched me as I passed. Even that I didn’t find odd. I chalked it up to them being foreign and not knowing what to say.

I camped a few hundred yards off the trail that night, as I always did. Following bear precautions, I hung the leftover food I had cooked that night from a tree approximately five feet off the ground. Packing up camp in the morning, I noticed the food wasn’t there. I immediately thought a bear had entered my campsite and so I began to look for paw prints. I didn’t find paw prints, but I did find boot prints circling the campsite, two pairs of them. One of those prints led right up the rope from which the food was hanging. I thought of the couple I had passed earlier and everything clicked. I quickly packed up and left. My mind was racing the entire day, but I figured the couple was simply hungry. If they had nefarious intentions, they would have come for more than the food.

Several days passed and my mind was at ease again. I had begun to circle my campsite with sticks to wake me in the event of an intruder, animal or otherwise. I awoke in my tent one night to the sound of those sticks crunching. I grabbed my hunting knife. I tried to relax by telling myself that in the middle of nowhere, the source of that noise is much more likely an animal than a person. Then I heard frantic whispering. It was impossible to tell which direction the voices were coming from. Being in the dark, surrounded by trees, a hundred miles from the nearest city plays tricks on your senses. I debated yelling out claiming to have a gun but instead decided to be silent and retain the benefit of surprise. I heard footsteps circling my tent and was ready to slash and whatever opened it. But just like that, it was over. No more footsteps, no more whispering. I lied frozen awake in my tent until sunrise and opened my tent to find nobody there. The only evidence something had actually happened were the boot prints, the same as before.

Several more days passed and I was now in Shasta National Forest, probably 50 to 75 miles from where I first encountered the couple. The trail became more or less a goat trail. Being on the side of a mountain and above the treeline, I could see the trail winding for miles in front of and behind me. I stopped for water in the rare shade and noticed two hikers miles behind me. All I could see were two white dots moving along the mountainside. I immediately said out loud, “Fuck this, this trip is over.” I pulled out my map and looked for the nearest town, which appeared to be Castella located off I-5. The only problem was that it was 25 miles away. I hiked well into the night trying to gain as much ground as possible. I kept losing the trail and decided to set up camp, this time far off the trail and into the forest. I got in my tent and tried to sleep but every little noise kept me awake.

After a few hours in my tent I heard the telltale signs of another bad night: the footsteps, the whispering, the sticks breaking. Sound travels far in the absence of other sound. I knew they were close, but wasn’t sure how close. All I could think was “This is fucked up, this is so fucked up. God dammit.” Finally a flashlight hits my tent, lights up the entire thing, and goes dark. I unzipped my tent and climbed out carrying my knife, yelling nonsense into the dark. It was sort of like that cliche scene in movies where people in the wilderness hear sticks breaking around them and the camera pans around the trees because the people have no idea which direction the sound is coming from.

Then I heard footsteps running towards the tent and barely made out a figure moving in my peripheral vision. I turned and ran deep into the forest. I tripped several times and ran into several trees. After running for approximately five minutes I tripped, rolled, and came to rest next to a downed tree. I got under the tree trunk and laid still. I saw the flashlight moving around in the distance. I laid under that tree for hours. I was certain they were gone but I didn’t move. Eventually birds started chirping and I knew sunrise would come soon. Once it did I made my way back to the trail, abandoned my campsite, and walked the rest of the distance to Castella where the Pacific Crest Trail crosses I-5.

I hitchhiked my way to the town of Mt. Shasta and spoke with the police and forest service. They put me up in a motel for the night, and my parents drove from Oregon to pick me up the next day. I followed up with the police and forest service months later who told me there had been similar reports of items disappearing from campsites throughout the surrounding national forests. However, there had been no other reports of the terrorizing that I experienced. As far as I know, nothing ever came of the couple.

3. A Feeling Of Unease, Justified

This happened to the friend of the sister of someone I know. (Close enough chain of acquaintance that I believe it, but not so close that any of you are going to believe it).

Anyway, this woman was hiking alone, and although she observed nothing overtly wrong during the hike, she had this vague sense that someone was nearby and perhaps trailing her. She made it home okay and then developed the film in her camera. Every night she was on the trail, someone had sneaked into her camp and taken a picture of her while she was sleeping.

4. The Lost Hiker

My friend “Heather” and I have a problem that whenever we spend time together some paranormal event seems to happen. This is one of the stories from the summer I spent with her at her new place in Colorado enjoying the beauty of nature. I had done several hiking trails but they had all been rather busy and it was hard to really enjoy nature on them. A friend of Heather’s “Mike” suggested we do a trail outside his home town, he said his town was in the middle of nowhere so we wouldn’t have to deal with all the summer crowds at the parks and tourist spots. We all thought it sounded great so we packed up and headed out. We decided we were going to camp for a few days somewhere along the trail just to relax and take in nature, so all in all our trip should last about five days. On the trip were myself, Mike, and my friends “James” and “Heather”.

After a day and a half of hiking we found a beautiful almost level clearing with a slope down one side that looked down on the forest below. You could tell by the old cans and the way logs and rocks were moved around in the area that this was an old camp site so we set up camp there for our couple days of relaxation in nature, too bad we never really got a chance to relax.

On our first night around 11pm we were sitting around the camp fire telling jokes, when Heather says “hey did you guys see that” and points down the slope at the tree line. We all turn and look but there was nothing there, I wasn’t even sure what we were looking for. Heather said she just saw a light, and sure enough about that time a light like one from a flashlight starts shining through the trees, but it’s moving rather quickly and is jumping up and down like someone is running with it in their hand. James jumps up and yells “Hello is someone there” down at it and the light immediately went off. Heather and I decide it would be smart to sleep in the boys’ tent that night.

The next morning James and Mike went down the slope to see if there is another camp down their. When they come back they had with them an empty backpack they had found on a rock just behind the tree line. The backpack was weather worn and was literally falling apart. We all decided that we would stay their one more night and that we had nothing to worry about some camper had probably just forgotten their backpack a few years ago and the flashlight the night before was probably just another hiker. To this day I wish we hadn’t stayed I still have nightmares of that night.

We were all having trouble sleeping so we stayed out by the camp fire really late into the night just talking and laughing. When Heather suddenly said “everyone be quiet do you hear that”. So we all went quiet but none of us able hear anything, Heather’s eyes were wide open and her face had gone pale in the fire light. I asked her what she heard and she said she could hear a woman crying, still none of us could hear it so we thought she was just pulling our chains. James and Mike start laughing and say things like good one and nice try, then we all heard it. Clear as can be the sound of a woman crying. James and Mike are both police officers so without hesitation they both jumped up and grabbed flashlights thinking they might be hearing a lost hiker. Heather and I both unable to move, something didn’t seem right about the noise we were hearing.

James and Mike headed down the slope toward where the crying was coming from, as me and Heather sat trying to comfort each other. They had been gone for about ten minutes and we could hear them yelling “Hello please tell us where you are” then we heard both of them begin screaming and maybe two minutes later they both sprinted up the slope back to the camp site. Both of them were so out of breath they couldn’t talk, and Mike started to throw-up in the bushes next to camp from over exertion. They both said hurry up we’re leaving now and started taking down the tents. Heather and I didn’t ask any questions, we were too scared to talk, we just packed everything we could and we started back down the trail in the middle of the night as quickly as possible. When the sun finally came up I got up the nerve to talk and asked James what had happened.

He said that Mike and him had followed the crying down into the trees; they couldn’t find the person who was crying even though they had searched the area where the sound was the loudest. Then as they were about to come back to camp to call for help they passed the rock where they had found the back pack and next to it was a girl sitting with her head in her knees crying. He said it was weird because she was wearing a big red winter jacket and a black stocking cap but it was the middle of summer. They were about twenty feet away when James asked if she was alright did she need help. He said she stopped crying, pointed deeper into the forest then disappeared. This is when Mike and James screamed and ran back to camp.

At the time we were all so scared that we really didn’t have time to think about things. We are all pretty sure that whatever it was, was trying to get us to go where it pointed. We’ve discussed going back there and trying to go the way it pointed, but we are unsure if it just wants us to find something or if it has bad intentions for us.

5. Lady In The Mountains

This happened to my grandfather and I (in El Salvador) when I was 8 years old on a Saturday night. We were coming back from visiting relatives who lived up the mountain from us (about an hour in a half to a two hour hike). During the day is a beautiful hiking place, but at night is quite scary.

We ended up leaving my uncles place later then we thought (at about 8pm) but we were not worried since we had done this hike hundreds of times at all times of the day but never after 10pm. (according to locals is not safe to be out there after 10pm because of weird things that they have seen and heard.) Thankfully we were prepared for nightfall; we had our own flashlight, grandpa had a huge flashlight that was as bright as a headlight on a car! And our backpack had bottles of water and snacks. Well half way into our way back home was pretty scary, there was no moonlight so it was really dark, and only trees all around and a few homes here and there. We heard noises and other weird things but since we were in the middle of the mountains, we dismiss it and kept walking.

About a mile away from home things got very weird and spooky. We couldn’t even hear a cricket sound everything just went silent. At this point my grandfather grab my hand and told me to stay close. I remember getting scare and worried, I looked at my watch and it was 9:15pm. I told grandpa and he said not to worry, we were almost home. I kept pointing my flashlight in front of me so I wouldn’t step on something or trip over. Then about 20ft from us was this huge tree and it had a bow on it, which I thought was strange and so did my grandpa as he reply with “well that’s interesting, a bow on a tree.” Then to our surprise a woman wearing a gray or light blue dress, I don’t really remember, was standing on the other side of the tree but with her back to us.

I told my grandpa why would she be out at this time of the night by herself, he said maybe she is lost or hurt, so we hurry to see if she needed help. We were about 10 ft away from her when she started walking, so grandpa yells, “hey excuse me miss are you ok? Are you lost… No answer. “Do you need help… Again no answer she just kept walking, (After you pass the tree with the bow about 5 to 10ft you go down the hill onto an open space with a few trees here and there and pretty flowers everywhere with a walking trail next to it). Standing on the bottom of the hill in front of the trail grandpa turn to me and said “come on honey we got to hurry I don’t think she’s ok. (He only turn to me for about a second or two) and when we turn back she disappear! We could not find her, we looked everywhere and no luck! There was no way she could of run that fast, the trail is pretty long and little trees scatter around, no where to hide even if you wanted to. Since grandpa had a big flashlight we had a good view of the landscape all around us but we saw nothing. We kept walking and still looking hoping to find her and help her but no luck.

Once we reach the town I looked at my watch and it was 10:15pm. I told grandpa how happy I was that we had made it just in time out of the mountains, yet still worried about what had happened to that lady. The next day grandpa told a neighbor of our incident with the strange woman and he interrupt my grandfather and said “are you talking about the big tree right before you go down the hill?” grandpa said yes why, our neighbor called his wife Susan over and begin to tell us about a murder that happen in that area.

On the Thursday of that week, a lady was walking home at around 8pm or so when she came across a man who try to rob her and since she fought back he stab her 4 times and she bled to death. She was found in the bottom of the hill the next morning. The killer was caught the next day drunk with a bloody shirt and hands with a knife in his pocket, people thought he was hurt but when they heard of the murder they turn him in and he did confess. My grandfather turn white and I didn’t know what to say at all but feel so bad for her. The neighbor’s wife Susan said that we were not the only ones that have seen her, a few locals have seen her walk from the tree to the bottom of the hill where her spirit always walks back and forth. The bow on the tree was put there on her behalf.

6. Cornered And Hunted

I was in Juneau, Alaska once traveling on business. After work, I decided to drive North out of town and I was stopping randomly at different beaches. I stopped at one and was having a great time on the beach by myself watching the birds fishing and looking at the tidal pools. A truck pulled up in the parking lot above me, and I didn’t think much of it…the first time. The truck spun a brodie and left, heading North.

I wandered further down the beach, and a few minutes later the truck came back. It parked at the overlook for a bit (the beach was probably 50 feet lower in elevation than the parking lot, there was a bluff) and just sat there…then it peeled out again and headed off to the south. I was a bit creeped out, and about this time I started making my way back to the trail to go back to my car. Right about then, the truck comes back. It parked with it’s headlights shining right towards me (it was getting to be dusk) and just sat there. Then it peeled out…but I could hear that it stopped…right where my car was parked. I heard the engine shut down on the truck. Right then every instinct in me said, “Hide.”

I left the beach and went straight into the woods, and somewhat up the hill. Juneau has big trees and I found one that had been knocked down and I lay down on the far side of it. I was wearing a bright blue jacket and knew even in the fading light I stuck out like a sore thumb. My cell phone had a poor connection, and I wasn’t armed because I can’t carry any weapons when I travel by airplane. I was scared spitless at this point. Then I hear, “Slam. Slam.” and I know that there are at least two people. They had waited a while, I guess, maybe to see if I was coming up the trail. Now they started down the trail, and one of the men appeared to have a long object. I think it was a rifle, but in the fading light it may have been a bat or something else. And he was calling, “Hello….where are you?”. All of a sudden I felt very much like I just stepped into “The most dangerous game.”

I remained hidden, heart beating wildly. I waited until the men were well down onto the beach and then began climbing the hill in the woods up to where I knew the parking lot to be. I tried not to make noise but that was impossible- there were dried leaves and deadfall all over, I was making a heck of a racket. But I guess they never heard me. I got up to my car and the truck freaked me out- it was fully tinted and there was no way to tell if anyone remained in the vehicle. I started the car and tore out of there. I have hiked alone all my life and been in far more remote places than this was but never before or since have I had such a feeling that I was in grave danger. To this day I don’t feel I overreacted- I am sure that those men had something very bad in store for me, had they caught me.

7. Little Girl Meets Bear Cub

Shut out of every backcountry and frontcountry campsite in the Tetons and Yellowstone one August weekend, we decided upon poaching an overnighter /snip/ in Yellowstone.

Words cannot quite describe my absolute horror when I awoke early the next morning. My almost two-year-old daughter was ’bout two steps outta the tent, tip-toeing with outstretched arms, approximately three steps away from a “bear-hugging” surprise attack on a grizzly cub who was busy tearing into a rotted log.

From my vantage point the mother was 10+ feet beyond the cub ass-deep into a berry bush. I lunged out and grabbed the kid with one hand tightly over hear mouth. the cub startled then bolted. Mother bear began backing out of the hedge just as I was swearing and futzing with the goddam zipper trying the close up the tent door. … like that was gonna provide any sort of protection.

One child began melting down because I robbed her of a playdate opportunity. Daughter #2 began melting down because I very sternly reprimanded her for wanting to unzip the opposite door for a good look at the bears herself. Then there was the wife who awoke to the pandemonium… All hell broke loose inside the tent.

Shit played out like a comedy sketch. Probably wasn’t any sign of wildlife within ear shot of our party after about 5 minutes.

Could have turned out very bad. very, very bad.

A backcountry bowel moving experience to say the least.


It all started with this troubling police report out of Franklin County, Vermont.

07/06/2013 Deputy Zecher responded to the Appalachian Trail in Wyman Township regarding a complaint from a female hiker. The complainant stated that there was a strange man who goes by the name of Richard (nickname brown blazer) had been acting strange. He has been leaving threatening messages on the AT trail recording logs. No one person has been targeted, however, she wanted to report it to law enforcement. A check of the trail heads did not reveal any vehicles that came close to the alleged offender’s first name. Notification has been made throughout the hiking community.

The following is the text of the alert issued to hikers of the Appalachian Trail in July of 2013.

AT NOBO (northbound) reports that another northbound AT hiker, name unknown, has been leaving logbook entries of an extreme violent and graphic sexual nature along the trail in Vermont.

Entries have been seen at Bromley Shelter, Pico Camp, and Stony Brook Shelter – though there may be more along the way as the hiker is not traveling very far each day.

The nature of the log book entries has reporting NOBO very concerned and he reported another hiker who after spending the night with the hiker in question at Governor Clement Shelter deliberately spent a second night there so as not to have to spend a second night with this person at Pico Camp because he was so “creepy.”

The reporting NOBO has already hiked from Georgia to Pennsylvania and is now going from PA to Maine – he reports that no logbook entry or person he has met thus far has created such a level of anxiety and concern for him – he is concerned about ending up at a shelter with the person in question and potentially for his safety.

Reporting NOBO believes that based on the hiker in questions pace and logbook entries that he will be at Thistle Hill Shelter in Pomfret tonight, May 30th and that he spent last night, the 29th, at Winturri Shelter.

An additional update received by phone: GMC’s group outreach specialist, reports that GMC’s Trail Crew encountered this individual’s logbook entries and described them as disgusting and disturbing enough to offend the Trail Crew and reports that the Crew encountered hikers who were also trying to avoid this individual due to their concern about him.

Days later, here is how one female hiker described their encounter with a person she believed to be “Richard” in Maryland.

I was staying at Pogo Campground area. This guy was watching me. I kept him in my sites and asked if he was a South bound or North bound. He said South bound. Forty minutes later, he is still just staring. I get my camera out and snapped pictures of him. He moves on and says see you later and heads off North bound.

Hmmm, thought he said he was a South bound. I’m all alone. A few minutes later, a girl come…s in and asked if she can camp with me. Just as I said yes, he appears again. This time I yelled, ‘Dude your creeping me out! You sit and watch me for an hour. That is just wrong to be doing that out here to women.’ He had some colorful words and said he could do whatever he wanted out there. He said he was going to sleep nearby and took off into the woods. It was a long night and we heard many things and sounds during the night.

In the morning we hiked hard to get out of there. The wet rock scramble got my knee twisted a couple of time. I’m little sore but screw hiking alone.

9. Stalked In North Carolina

I do a lot of solo backpacking in western North Carolina. Usually Pisgah or Nantahala, but I’ve been all around. I have quite a few stories, most of them aren’t really paranormal, but are definitely creepy – especially alone.

About two years ago I was on a 4 day solo trip at Cold Mountain in Shining Rock Wilderness. I came up through Art Loeb trail but got to my put-in later than I had planned. It was immediately clear there was no way I’d make it to my planned site before pitch black and I needed to make camp ASAP.

While walking through a rhododendron and high growth tunnel known as “The Narrows,” I get the unmistakable feeling that something is definitely stalking me. The dim light keeps fading and I finally find a low lying, swampy area to camp (after passing a couple of claimed spots). I fire up my snowpeak stove, cook, eat, smoke a bowl, and bear bag what I needed to. It’s completely pitch black at this time and the feeling of being watched is so strong that it’s making my head buzz. I chalk it up to the bud, laugh it off, and get in my small tent.

I lay perfectly still, enjoying the high and listening to the ambient sounds when, suddenly, I feel something reach under the base of my tent near my head on the left side and brush my cheek. I immediately jump 2 feet off the ground and rip my sleeping bag off. I sit there motionless for maybe 5 minutes holding my knife and trying to figure out what the FUCK just happened. I convince myself it’s a mouse/rat/whatever and lay back down.

Finally I’m drifting off and all is good, when I hear (sense, really) three or four ‘somethings’ walking around my site. I quietly get my knife back out and prepare for the worst, when I feel something reach under the tent again. Then again. Then two at the same time on opposite sides. Then 3. I finally break my silence and shout a “HEY! GET!,” but they keep pawing and reaching.

At this point I’m pretty certain I’m dealing with coyotes. Even though they’re usually pretty timid and are mostly scavengers, they were coming at me HARD. I hear growling and whimpering and I start smacking at their paws with my boot as they keep digging under my tent and yelping. This goes on for about 6 or 7 loooonnngg minutes as I keep shouting and playing midnight Wack-A-Mole. They seemed to be getting more aggressive and I ‘m fearing for my life a little, when out of nowhere I hear a dog barking and growling in the distance, and getting closer. The pawing and scratching stops and I hear the 3 or 4 coyotes snarling in the same direction near where I heard the dog. The dog keeps barking and they keep snarling and then I hear a scuffle and some of the most God-awful animal noises I’ve ever heard… Then silence. COMPLETE silence that’s even louder than the animal noises.

Needless to say I don’t sleep a wink, and when morning comes I get out to investigate to find my tent fly ripped and spots of blood all over my campsite. I’m definitely shaken but I break camp and continue up towards the summit. About an hour in I run across a group of 20-somethings searching frantically for a dog. Apparently she disappeared from their site in the middle of the night and they’d been looking for her since morning. They ask me if I’ve seen her (a German shepherd) and I recount my story from the night before. We all kind of knowingly mull over the possibilities and I promise to keep an eye out.

I never did see the dog. Didn’t see them again for the rest of the trip either. I really hope they found her and she’s ok, but all I know is she may very well have saved my life.

10. Geocaching

I’ve been geocaching in the woods many times, and occasionally one runs into caches with weird things in them. The creepiest was an ammo box with only a handful of finds that contained broken doll parts and a handwritten note that said “Look behind you”. I definitely had the heebie-jeebies and double-timed it back to my car despite it being the middle of the day. It’s crossed my mind before that geocaching would be a great way for a serial killer to lure people out to remote locations.

11. Shadows At The Edge Of The Field

Camping in Wyoming, 2 hours from pretty much anywhere with my dad, my friend, and my dog. This dog was the calmest (albeit quite stupid) and nicest dog I’ve ever had. I’ve never heard her growl or bark at anything, no matter how much it presented a threat to us or her, she just assumed everything was her friend or food.

It’s late at night, my dad’s asleep, and my friend and I are just hanging around the campfire. Out of nowhere the dog bolts up, barks once, and starts growling in the direction of a field next to our site. Of course we’re freaking the fuck out, trying to figure out what the hell she’s going on about, when we realize there’s a group of shadows on the other side of the field. We just sit there, staring at whatever it is, when we hear a conversation, no clue what language it was in. This goes on for about 10 minutes of us staring wide eyed at the shadows (didn’t think to wake my dad), when the shadows just went away, and my dog stops growling, lays down, and falls back asleep.

That was the one and only time she ever did anything like that in over a decade that we had her, still freaks me the fuck out to this day.

12. Not Alone After All

This past winter I hiked one of high peaks in the ADK’s with a buddy of mine and camped out overnight. Everything was fine the entire first day we were there. Had a great nights sleep and woke up early to hike back to the parking area.

On the way back down the trail, my friend and I noticed that someone else had been hiking as well. About a mile after walking, I stopped and saw that my full name, first and last, was drawn into the snow on the side of the foot path. I didn’t do it, neither did my friend. It was snowing a bit throughout the night and if it was drawn the day before, the snow would have covered it up. We got a bit freaked out and decided to hustle back to our car so we could get the fuck out of there.

We finally get back to the parking area and I go to sign myself out of the registry book. When I turn the page to where I signed in, I see that someone had scribbled out all of my information to where you couldn’t read it anymore. No one else had signed into the book besides myself for 3 days.

I will NOT be going back there.

13. Darkness Makes Every Sound 100% Worse

This happened while I was backpacking in the Goat Rocks Wilderness in Washington State. My friend and I were trying to get up into a certain basin above the tree line, and we got a really late start thanks to road construction, so we were really hoofing it up the trail trying to make camp before dark. My friend hikes way faster than I do, so he got way out ahead of me by and by the time I got to where our detour from the main trail up an informal boot path would take us up into the basin he was nowhere to be seen. So, there being no campsites near where I stopped, I backtracked for about 3/4 of a mile to a lake where there were established campsites right along the trail.

After maybe an hour my friend shows up having realized his mistake (this is well after dark), and we settled in not really knowing our surroundings (it was a fairly large open area though, likely a horse camp area because the trail is popular with horse packers, but we encountered none), set up our tents (both one-person) ate and went to bed. Neither of us usually sleep well when backpacking, but for whatever reason he was out cold and I was sort of lucid at best for quite a while, just listening to the sounds of nature and trying not to psyche myself out about the possible demons and monsters and man-eating beasts lurking in the woods every time I heard a twig snap or a pine cone fall from a tree.

So maybe three or so hours after I went to bed (this would have been maybe 1am), I start hearing a very distinct sound of really heavy footsteps around my camp area – maybe as much as 100 feet away. I didn’t really think to analyze the patterns the footsteps made at the time, but I remember it sounding distinctly bipedal – you can usually pick out a Deer or Mountain Goat because they don’t plant their feet in pairs. Other than these occasional foot steps, it’s basically dead silent – no crickets or rustling of bushes or anything.

That silence was instantly shattered by the most terrifying sound I have ever heard in my life. It was basically the same intensity as a whistle on a steam train, but much, much deeper and more demonic like. Almost like a cross between a cow mooing and a lion’s roar, but loud enough that it echoed off the mountains on the opposite side of the valley. Immediately after this noise, this creature went hauling ass off into the woods, crashing through the bushes (the forest I could see when I set up camp was basically covered in head-high huckleberry shrubs) but remained running around in earshot for at least two minutes, running back and forth sometimes getting distinctly closer, sometimes getting further away. All this time it sounded like it was a creature with two legs running around. This whole time my heart was doing about 200bpm and I was sure I was going to be eaten by a chupacabra or something. After a couple minutes the footsteps faded and it fell silent again, and I never heard anything else. I probably lay awake for at least another hour before I finally fell asleep. My friend didn’t heard a damn thing.

In the morning when I woke up, I looked around and there was a wide open area that led down to a small beach at the nearby lake to see if there was any evidence of what the noise was. Turns out there were fresh Elk prints in the mud near the lake, and maybe 20-30 feet away was a large print of either a Cougar or a Bear (I don’t remember which). So likely something was stalking one of the Elk that wandered near my camp and spooked it in the middle of the night and caused it to spazz the fuck out. At least that’s what I hope it was.

14. A Cave Filled With Photographs

A few years ago I was backpacking in Eastern Washington with some friends of mine. I don’t know how well you guys know Eastern Washington, but its pretty much dust, sagebrush and dirt. We decided to hike up onto the top of this canyon, and from up there you could see miles and miles of straight nothing. After a few hours of traversing the top of the cliff, we eventually found a little crevasse that kind of took us a little ways underground, into a pretty decent sized cave.

The cave was filled with little bones, like mice and bats. In one of the corners of the cave, there was a rock fixture that jutted up from the ground and almost made a separate “room” so to speak. In the room we found lots of scratches on the walls, photographs, and three bottles with notes in them. While this was kind of off-putting on its own, we figured it was just some sort of joke and we’d find silly S.O.S. notes in the bottles. The scariest part about it all was the photographs were super ordinary, of families and normal people, and two of the notes in the bottles made no sense at all.

While it was English, it was pretty much straight gibberish, none of the words made sense in context with the other words. The third bottle had a super ordinary letter talking about what they’ve been up to; something you’d send to a fairly distant relative after not talking with them for a while.

I don’t really know what to think of it all, I feel like it could easily have been someone just joking around but it was almost too strange for that.

15. Real Life Monsters

This was creepy, not supernaturally so… just because what it was.

I was camping and hiking in the Okefenokee Swamp. We (my girlfriend and me) were far from being the only ones there, but when we woke up one morning we took a canoe out in the swamp to explore.

It was early, there was a thick layer of fog resting just atop the water. The whole swamp was completely still. No animals in sight at all. We paddled down the water way for a while and saw NOTHING else. Not a single person. Not a bird. Not anything. We didn’t hear a single sound.

We had just cornered a bend in the swamp and we hear it… The loudest guttural bellow I had ever heard in my life. I could feel it echo through my chest. A true dinosaur sound. We stopped paddling and looked at each other a little creep-ed out. We knew it was an alligator, but we had never heard one that loud.

We both look behind the canoe and behind us the backs and eyes of at least 20 alligators had risen. They had just surfaced out of nowhere. We slowly start to paddle forward and we hear more bellows. They came from all around us. In front, behind, to the sides, sounds emanating from the bush covered banks.

Each glance behind us we saw more eyes appear. More scaled mounds breaking the water’s surface. From the banks in front we would catch tails sliding into the water, ripples of these HUGE reptiles broke the water all around us.

We looked back again as we paddled faster. Easily 40 alligators behind us now. And we began to see them appear in front. 10-15 huge lizards seemingly blocking our path.

Then, one of the largest alligators I have ever seen surfaces right where my paddle was going down. I hit the beast on the back of the head and the thrash he made was incredible… When his massive head hit the side of the small canoe I thought we were going in the water. Water came into the canoe as the side dipped down. The beast disappeared below the boat and we held steady.

We paddled forward as fast as we could – right into the dotted landscape of scales and eyes. Behind us, that same guttural roar echoed through my body. As we cut through the field of eyes and backs, we started to see the path clear. The huge monster that had almost capsized us bellowed one last time. We turned as we made it past the last of the animals and we could see the monster staring at us. Watching us leave. All the other alligators began to sink to the water’s floor. The big guy stayed there watching until he was satisfied we had gone, I guess. Then he disappeared without a sound, back into the black murky depths of the swamp.

We banked the canoe further up the waterway, got out and just sat around for a while taking in what had just happened.

16. An Abandoned Campsite

A few years ago, I was hiking somewhere on the border of Montana and Idaho, the exact location escapes me at the moment. I was with my uncle, and the hike was something like 6 miles in, 6 miles out from TH to a lake. Keep in mind, this is a VERY remote area. To even get to the TH was about a 20-30 mile drive in on dirt/logging roads. There were no other cars at the TH and we didn’t see anyone on the trail the entire day.

On the hike in, we noticed a make-shit camp set up along the trail to our right. This was by no means a designated camping area. It just happened to be enough of a clearing to pitch a tent, and have a small area to walk around in. The camp looked somewhat disheveled, and there was nobody in immediate sight. We continued on to the lake, ate lunch, and headed home sometime later in the afternoon.

On our way back, the camp was now to our left. Now that we were headed in the opposite direction, the camp came into view much sooner along the trail than it did on our hike in. It was a few minutes until we actually reached this camp. I had a very eerie feeling now. From this direction, I could now see that the tent flap was unzipped entirely. I found this strange, and scanned the camp for its resident(s). By the time we reached the camp, nobody had appeared and I decided to yell out to anyone who may be in the camp. Maybe to say hello, maybe to see if anyone needed any help. I just had a strange feeling that something was wrong here.

At this point, my uncle was very much freaked out and was trying to continue walking along without incident. I yelled out three or four times towards the camp, each time walking closer and closer to the tent. I got no response. I stood a few feet away from the tent, and scanned around the hills, and there was nobody in sight. The camp looked exactly the same as it did on our hike in. Upon further inspection I could see a few items strewn about the grounds beyond the tent. But my first stop was definitely going to be the tent. I thought for a few seconds and pondered exactly what I may find in the tent. I was scared of waking someone, but more scared of finding someone who may not be able to wake up. I crept closer, my uncle reluctantly following about ten paces behind. I yelled a few more times. No answer. I push aside the flap, and there’s nothing but a sleeping bag, laid out perfectly as if someone had just unrolled it. Keep in mind, this is a very NICE tent. Perfectly assembled too. Nice vestibule, spacious, and sturdy. It struck me as odd that someone with such a nice tent would have been so foolish to have left their tent unzipped.

So I stood, and scanned again. This tent was a few hundred feet away from a very small water source. There were various items, as I said earlier, every 50 feet or so. I noticed a zip-lock bag on the top of a boulder, right next to this stream. I headed over there and found that it contained several strips of uncooked bacon. Again, strange. My thoughts were racing and I had an overwhelming feeling that I was being watched. I put the bacon back where I found it and looked around again. Nobody was here. We hadn’t seen anyone all day, and this camp looked EXACTLY the same as it did in the morning. Who in their right mind would leave this bag of bacon sitting right here? Who would even bring bacon into a place like this? And how? There was no ice chest, not even a car at the TH. Why would you bring food like that into an area where there are mountain lion as well as bear? There wasn’t even a stove, or any cooking utensils in sight. This was a VERY barren camp.

My thoughts began to slow down and I looked to my feet. I saw several shell casings and several rounds to a .45 caliber handgun. This was the icing on the WTF cake. My uncle insisted we leave immediately, and at this point, I agreed.

We hiked rather quickly out. Counting paces, I calculated that the make-shift camp was about 1 mile from the TH. I still have no idea what could have happened at that camp. Still freaks me out. But it makes for a very good story.

17. TMNT

[The weirdest thing I ever found hiking was] a kid sized teenage mutant ninja turtles backpack and sleeping bag. They looked like they had been there for several months at least.

The bag was full of THOUSANDS of packs of matches, and the deed to a house in Washington state. This happened in Maryland.

18. Covered In Ashes

I was hiking in southern Virginia and came to a shelter. At this point it was about an hour until sundown, and two other hikers had already set up camp and gotten a fire going. So, I decided to sling my tent up and make some dinner (I never sleep in those funky shelters.)

Anyway, at some point I notice that there is a guy in the far back corner of this shelter. It looks like he is sitting facing the wall, but it’s hard to tell with him being in the shadow of the corner. I didn’t think much of it, I was hungry. So I’m sitting there munching on my shitty re hydrated dinner as the sun is going down. As my eyes began to adjust to the darkness I glanced over towards the shelter, and suddenly realize that I can see the whites of the persons eyes in the shelter. This dude had smeared soot from the firepit all over his face and body, and had been sitting in the shadows watching the others hikers and myself the entire time.

I tried to stealthily let the other hikers know what was up, and gtfo of there. I walked a few miles further down the trail, and then cut to the side and hiked about a mile off the trail before I felt comfortable setting up camp. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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Eric Redding

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