27. When I was younger and stupider and going to college in the north Georgia mountains, my friends and I would go night hiking a lot on the trails near campus. I got pretty familiar with the area, and being out in the wilderness at night in general, which probably made me too confident.
One night the full moon was out, and the weather was perfect, so visibility was crazy good (everything was basically washed in dim blue light). I was slightly stoned, and feeling adventurous, and I love doing fun stuff alone, so I decided to go enjoy a night hike by myself. I took a flashlight, but this was around 2002 so no cell phone. I chose a super easy trail that was mostly flat/ maybe a mile loop, in pretty secluded area, but not exactly a national park or anything (very rural area). I didn’t even need my flashlight for most of it, and just hiked in the moonlight; it was actually a really cool/ beautiful experience at first.
At some point I started feeling uneasy, and maybe a millisecond later I heard a man’s voice. It was coming from a good distance ahead of me, somewhere off in the woods, maybe from the right side of the trail. He was crying.
I’m honestly an empathetic person, and 99.9% of the time I hear someone crying I want to comfort/ help them in some way, but this time I felt sick in the stomach, like a dry panic attack, if that makes sense. I remember coming very close to calling out to him, because my brain was trying to tell me he might be hurt, which was the only reason I hesitated – but it was like my body shut my voice down before I could say anything, and I knew I had to stay very quiet. He was sobbing like he’d just found out a loved one had died, but also gibbering, and almost-babbling, like he was less than a person. There was a shrillness to it, under his crying, like he was holding back a scream – but perpetually, on and on, as if he’d been doing it all night. I remember it vividly, and my spine is tingling like crazy even as I write this. It’s hard to explain, but I knew deep down he wasn’t right in the head, and nothing good would happen if he realized I was listening.
I went back the way I came; it was like I had tunnel-hearing, and the only sound in the world was that crying. I was hyper-aware of everything else around me, and beyond paranoid that I would snap a branch, or snag my boot on something. I worried the man’s crying would get louder if I wasn’t paying razor sharp attention, getting closer, or turn into an outraged crazy-person scream.
Thankfully it just faded the further I got from it, and I made it back to my car. Still, I was convinced some wild-eyed hermit was going to rush out of the forest and bite me to death, right up to the second I locked my doors and got the fuck out of there. I finally had the rest of my panic attack on the drive back. I managed to park back at campus, and I just sat in the car and collected myself. Adrenaline is fucking powerful.
I have never felt a shred of guilt about leaving that guy crying out in the woods in the dark. I know I was slightly stoned, but slightly is the key word there. I’m convinced to this day I was in very real danger that night. Definitely not as insane as most of the stories in threads like this – but sometimes I get that same sick feeling deep down, whenever I wonder what might have happened if the moon been less bright, or if I’d been more responsible, and I’d decided to use my flashlight even once. He’d have seen me for sure.
28. While it did not happen during the hike, rather the camping, it was still the creepiest thing I’ve experienced out there.
Was working at a summer camp for kids and we went on an overnight outing. Had a cougar circle our camp from around 11pm to roughly 5am. It was crying out, hoping one of us would separate from the group. I stayed up all night with bear spray and a hatchet keeping an eye on it with the other staff.