I’ve been camping for the past week with a few of my friends. We’re in a nice, secluded campground on the side of a mountain, filled with forests and a few remote lakes. It’s quiet, peaceful and honestly one of my favorite places in the country. It’s not a well-known campground about 15 minutes outside of Pittsfield, Massachusetts, right in the heart of the Berkshires, so it’s still close to town and everything we need while still being remote and private. I’m including this so you know how normal this place is. It’s beautiful, families come out here often to camp. I’ve been coming here since I was 8 with my family, and we’ve never had anything bad happen here.
Until now, that is.
I’m a 19-year-old girl, and a few of my friends and I decided last weekend we wanted to go on a camping trip, since we’re all back from college for the summer, and we’ve missed each other. There are 6 of us overall—me (Hanna), Tyler, Jacob, Eileen, Ben, and Yona. The names aren’t real obviously, because I want to keep our anonymity. We’re not totally sure what to do about all this.
So, we’ve been here for 3 days. We got unpacked, set up our tents and campfire. We spent the next two days messing around and enjoying ourselves, swimming in the lakes, talking around the campfire, and hiking on the trails. We have 2 more days here, and today we decided we would go exploring off-trail to see what’s around. There’s not really a danger of getting lost or anything because there’s a big fence surrounding the campground and separates it from the national park. We figured we would take a map, keep track of where we were with Tyler’s fancy GPS he got for geocaching or whatever. Ben had a stomach ache from some expired granola bars and decided he was going to wait for us back at the campsite.
We packed up our backpacks with plenty of water, snacks and emergency supplies, tied our shoes, locked up our stuff, said bye to Ben and headed out from a smaller trail off the largest lake. For the first 2 hours, we didn’t find anything cool or interesting as we trekked deeper into the wilderness. We found some cool trees, a little den of some sort of small animal, a huge boulder we got a cool picture on top of, and a little cave near the boulder that wasn’t very interesting.
As we got deeper into the woods, Eileen got a little spooked after she thought she heard someone calling her name. we all thought she was being ridiculous as there are five of us out here, there’s bound to be echoes off the trees and shit. She eventually dropped it and laughed it off. Tyler wandered off when we stopped for a snack, and a few minutes later came running back and told us he saw someone running around the woods. We all thought he was messing with us and fucked with him for it. It was funny, and he brushed it off.
We heard a couple of distant bells, which was a little weird but we figured someone had a dog out here.
About 3pm, we finally found something interesting. We found these cool structures that were made out of sticks and stretched into circles, kind of like these but much smaller, like 2-3 feet in diameter, on the ground and hanging from trees. We also found a few things like these, like the sticks and branches had fallen in a circle pattern. Eileen, of course, was freaked out and wanted to go back, but Jacob and Tyler had found some wood and stone steps carved into the ground like they do for some hiking trails on a hill nearby. We also found some old wood railing, like what you find next to inclined trails. We figured it was part of an old hiking trail, and Eileen decided the weird stick things were from people who had found the old hiking trail. We agreed, even though we weren’t sure.
We kept going, and eventually found the best and worst part of this trek. We found an old abandoned shed (I apologize for not having a real picture of it, but we didn’t bring our phones (only our satellite phone, we’re not stupid) and my little Polaroid didn’t have any more film.)
It was about 10x 15 feet, so pretty big for a shed but not big enough to be a house, miles from anything, and relatively well-maintained. It wasn’t like a super old and decrepit ruin, like we would expect to find. I guess it was part of the old abandoned trail. We were so excited we had found something cool, and immediately went around to see what was inside.
We found it was locked from the inside, and the windows were nailed shut. Yona found one of the three windows only had one nail, and it was sticking halfway out. So we pried the nail out, and Tyler climbed inside to let us in. He clambered around inside, then unlocked the door with a bit of effort. The door swung open and he beamed at us, proud of his work. We all clapped him on the back and came inside with him.
It smelled terrible in there. A mix of rust, dead leaves, and something sour. We looked around, and the boys turned their flashlights on since the windows didn’t provide a lot of light. Inside, there was a gross wooden chair, a pile of dusty and nasty looking blankets, a wooden table that was turned on its side, a few small bones (we thought from animals) and tons of leaves and dirt on the ground. There were handprints and footprints everywhere (and probably a couple needles), so we definitely thought some hobo had been sleeping here. Tyler disagreed and thought some sort of cryptid had made a nest here. Eileen punched him and left the shed, and of course we ripped into him for being a dick. He said he was serious and said the bones and how it was locked are creepy as hell. He said all of the stick sculptures and shit were weird and not something a person would do. He wasn’t afraid at all and said since we’re on the grounds of a well-known and popular campground, and how it backs up into a national park, are all signs of something living here. He then changed his mind about it being a cryptid and decided it was probably some creep trying to be weird and scare anyone who would happen to stumble across.
We continued to explore, still calling Tyler an asshole and joking around and harassing him to lighten the mood. We sifted through the blankets and leaves, and found a few half-burned candles, a used-up emergency flare, and a few burnt matches.
Then, I found the notebook.
It was one of those little mini composition notebooks you can find in office supply aisles. It was dirty and scuffed and had frantic writing written inside. I called out to my friends, and we started going through it. It was freaky as hell and read like a diary from a horror movie or something. We all got super freaked out and Jacob threw it at me to take back to camp with us. We didn’t feel safe going through it there.
So, we all got the hell out of there. We trekked the 3+ hours back to our campsite, visited the bathrooms, and went back to hang out some more. It was about 7-8pm when we all settled back in camp for dinner. Ben had gone into town and gotten some food for us, so we quickly forgot about our adventure and enjoyed the rest of the night.
Which is where we are now. It’s about 10pm, we’re all sitting around the campfire. I brought my laptop to go through the pictures we had and thought I would try and transcribe the notebook so everyone could read it at once and then we could talk about it.
So, here goes. I’ve added some punctuation/fixed the grammar so it’s more comprehensible. To see an album of the notebook, click here.
“My name is Cassie, I’m 14 and camping with my family at [campground]. There are 5 of us. Me, mom and dad, Levi (11) and Daisy (6). We have been here for 5 days, I think. I lost all of them yesterday. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know if anyone will find us. I don’t know where I am or where to go. I’m so scared. I don’t know what to do. If someone finds this, you have to know what happened. We got here 5 days ago. It was fun. We set up our tents, went swimming, hiked and had fun. It was supposed to be a fun summer trip. Just the family. We went exploring in the woods 2 days ago. Dad knows this campground really well and wanted to try some off trail hiking. We brought water. We brought food. It was fine. It was fun. We were out for a while. We found these weird stick spirals everywhere. Sticks around the trees.
Then we found footprints. Then we heard sticks cracking out of site. Levi touched one of the spirals and got a rash a few minutes later. We saw an old cabin in the distance but decided not to check it out in case it was dangerous. We went back to camp. It got really, really dark out, and we couldn’t see the stars or the moon. Dad said it wasn’t supposed to storm. We went to bed. We heard footsteps outside, but mom and dad didn’t see anyone. Levi’s rash got worse and mom put ointment on it. The footsteps lasted all night. I thought I heard breathing, too. The rest of them couldn’t hear it. A few times, there were bells. Just short little rings. Like a dog bell or something. I went out to pee late that night. I saw a shape in the woods. I was so scared. It looked like a person in a hoodie. I told mom and dad; dad went out with a flashlight but didn’t see anything.
They said we could leave in the morning. The night lasted so long, none of us slept. The sun finally came up and we got up to pack or stuff. There were footprints all over the camp in the gravel and dirt. There were more stick spirals. Daisy started to cry, and mom put her in the car. It was foggy out, like it usually is in the morning. The sky was overcast. We took a while to pack up. Levi noticed we couldn’t hear any birds or cicadas. Everything felt muffled. We packed up. Dad left to go down the road to check out. He was gone for hours. Mom started to get scared. We tried calling the office, but just got a busy signal. Daisy was crying. Levi and me went to the lake a few feet away. We sat there for a few minutes. We said how weird this was and we just wanted to go home. We wondered where dad was. It got cold, so we went back to the car to get jackets.
Mom and Daisy were gone. Mom’s phone was in her seat, there was no service. Levi started to cry. We yelled and yelled for mom and dad and Daisy. There was no answer at all, no echoes, no birds or bugs. No wind. I think my ears were ringing. It sounded like bells again. I didn’t know if it was my head or just super faint. It was getting dimmer out. I looked at my phone to see what time it was and to [tried to] call my mom and dad. It was 8pm. We had been yelling for my mom and my sister for 4 hours. Or we had been at the lake a long time. I started to cry too. I was so scared, but I tried to keep myself together for my Levi. We sat in the car, ate some food and tried over and over again to call my mom, my dad and the office. We tried 911 too but there was always the stupid busy signal!!! I made us beds in the car with sleeping bags and told Levi we would try again tomorrow when the sun is up.
Maybe there was a storm or something down the mountain. I heard the footsteps again that night. All around the car, pacing and pacing but when I looked there was nothing there. I cried as quiet as I could and prayed to God that someone would find us. Around 2am the wind started to blow again. It smelled really bad outside and the footsteps got louder. I gave Levi my headphones and made him play his music. There were sounds outside, like wailing, whistling. Like nothing I’ve ever heard before. It sounded like whales underwater, but slow and far away. I told myself it was coyotes or something. The sun finally came up, and when we got outside it was freezing but so humid. It smelled awful, like ozone and rust and sharp cheese. And dead leaves and dirt. The fog was still everywhere, we couldn’t see past the treeline only a few yards away.
All the stuff I had put outside of the car for us to sleep was gone. There were footprints in the gravel and dirt again, outside the car, and spirals were marked in the dust on the side of the car and in the dirt on the ground. Not just sticks anymore. I told Levi we were leaving. We put our jackets on and put some stuff in our backpacks. We started to walk down the path to walk the 2 miles to the entrance and the office. We walked and walked. Levi was crying. I was too scared to cry. I kept seeing someone out of the corner of my eye. I didn’t tell Levi. We yelled for our mom and dad and Daisy. We yelled for help, that we were lost. No one heard us or said anything. It got foggier and foggier. We couldn’t see 10 feet in front of us. We kept our eyes on the road and down. I tried to play road trip games to keep Levi occupied.
At some point, our phones stopped working. They just stayed at 2:17pm. They wouldn’t unlock, the battery charge wouldn’t change. We knew time had passed because we got thirsty and hungry and we walked and walked and walked. God. Fuck. I can’t do this. I’m crying and crying and crying, I can’t breathe!! Fuckfuckfuckfuck [frustrated scribbles] Damn it. We kept walking for so fucking long. I told Levi to stop and turn around because I had to pee. I went and took the couple steps back to him and he was GONE He wasn’t anywhere, his footprints stopped where he was standing I screamed and screamed for him, I looked everywhere but I couldn’t fucking find him!!
I lost it and just ran down the road. I cried and cried and ran to where I thought would be people The road turned into woods again and the fog started to clear just a few steps past the trees. I tried to look around but it was just trees everywhere, as far as I could possibly see. I had just taken a few steps into the trees but it was just trees everywhere like I had been teleported I just started walking again. It started to get dark. I was walking for hours. My feet hurt and I know I had blisters. My back hurt and my face is raw. It got darker. The sky turned purple, like sunset behind the clouds. I heard the sticks snapping again. The air was still cold and unbearably humid. It was dusk. And fuck, I was right back to where we were 2 days ago. The stick spirals. The bent trees. I saw the cabin again.
This time I went to it and hoped this was some sort of crazy realistic nightmare or a prank or just SOMETHING and this was familiar. The door was open and there was a table and chair inside. And leaves everywhere and dirt and stuff. I locked the door, sat down and got this notebook out of my backpack. I turned on my flashlight, there wasn’t enough light outside. I didn’t know what to do so I started writing. I had a few candles and a flare in my backpack so I lit the candles. It never got any darker outside but it’s dark in here. I can hear the footsteps again. I don’t even know if I’m scared anymore, I’m just tired and I want my mom. I want my dad. It’s not fair.
FUCK THERE’S SOMETHING OUTSIDE
IT PUT ITS FINGERS UNDER THE DOOR
I CAN HEAR IT WALKING
I HEAR THE BELLS CHIMING THEY’RE CLOSER THIS TIME
MY NAME IS CASSANDRA RUPERT I AM 14 MY MOTHER IS ELAINE RUPERT MY FATHER IS KEVIN RUPERT MY BROTHER IS LEVI RUPERT MY SISTER IS DAISY RUPERT
WE WENT CAMPING IN [CAMPGROUND] ON JUNE 27TH 2019 PLEASE FIND US
The notes end there. I mentioned we found the used up flare and candles in the shed. I think Cassie lit them.
We’re leaving in the morning. It’s almost 1am and everyone is terrified. Ben is going to stay up and keep watch to keep us comfortable. We’ll be handing all of this in to the Forest Service and the police in a few hours.
This is not what I had planned for a camping trip.
God, I hope this isn’t real.