25. Usually, it’s what I hear. Large (fallen) branches snapping just out of sight of my head lamp. Or waking up an hour later and hearing steps and leaves rustling, but too exhausted and fearful to inspect or want to know (probably nothing important anyway).
One time I returned to my car after a late night hike with friends and my SUV was covered in… foot/hand/paw prints. They were just sooo large and even dragged a little in the dust. It was on/near a large military base in the mountains. I think some local enlisted may have made them to scare us. But it was just so well done. Pretty scary for all of us because it’s what you’d imagine the Blair witch would do. No animal did it.
26. This happened to me a few years ago. I used to go to school at the University of California Santa Cruz. I’m a runner and the campus is in a beautiful redwood forest, so I would run on the trails. One day I left a little later than usual on a run through one of the more isolated trails. Here’s where it gets weird.
I was about 15 minutes running deep into the woods and still hadn’t seen anyone else around. Suddenly, up ahead, I saw what appeared to be a homeless man in ragged clothing walking on the trail. Now, he was walking further into the woods, and this path went very very far and the sun was setting. Aka this man was spending the night in the woods. I wanted to reach my usual running checkpoint before turning back so I decided to keep my distance and run by. As soon as I passed the man he called out to me, “What came first, light or sound?”. In my head I was like wtf this guy is nuts, but I decided to humor him and yelled out light without looking back. He said, “well I think it’s sound, but who knows…” and started mumbling to himself. I continued on.
I reached my goal and started to head back. It was really dark now and I was feeling sketched out that I had to pass this guy again to get back. He seemed pretty crazy and potentially dangerous but I didn’t have a choice. I got passed the point where I first passed him but he was nowhere to be seen. There weren’t any other branches of the trail and if he had headed back I would have seen him by then. He must have gone off the trail. Suddenly a girl from up on a hill screamed for me to stop.
I stopped and looked up on the hill but it was too dark to see anything. I was freaked out. I called out to ask if she was alright and eventually saw her climbing down. The hill was really steep so she put in a lot of effort to get up there and away from whatever was after her. She said that she was on a run when a scary homeless guy started harassing her and he chased her up the hill. But she didn’t know where he went. She was going to spend the night there until I came along because she was too scared to go back down.
At this point we both wanted to get the hell out of there. Who knew if this creepy man was like lurking around watching us from the dark. So we ran back together and made it to the road. She thanked me and we parted ways. Never ran back on that trail again. Santa Cruz can be a pretty weird place, I’ve heard legends of students flunking out of school there and then just living in the forest. Maybe this guy was a student from years past.