Among all the myriad paranormal phenomena reported from around the world, there are often those cases that cannot really be comfortably fit into any category of the strange. These are the cases that flit about on the periphery, encompassing total bizarreness which we just can't seem to pin down, seemingly burps or bumps in reality itself, and which have in recent years been referred to as "glitches in the matrix." Such accounts are numerous, but one location where they take on a rather spooky ambiance is when they deal with remote, rugged wilderness areas. Here we will look at a selection of cases of strange, inexplicable warps and cracks in our reality from places out in the wilds beyond civilization.

Some of these so-called “glitches” in reality revolve around people who just seem to have blinked out of existence or otherwise vanished right before a startled witness’s eyes, often under very odd, even surreal circumstances, pointing to something far weirder than a simple missing person. One comes from reddit user “strikelist,” who at the time was at a rural forested park area along the Occoquan River in northern Virginia. The witness says he had been driving along the narrow road with his mother when they saw a middle aged white male in dark clothing casually walking along by the side of the road, and they thought nothing of it until something very bizarre indeed happened, of which he says:

Suddenly, as I was looking straight at him in the distance, he was not there anymore. And it was so sudden I questioned if there was even a guy walking at all, maybe it was just my mind playing tricks on me. Then my mom asked, "....did that guy just fall off the side?” Shocked that she confirmed she also saw a man walking, I stopped the car where he could have fallen. I thought, maybe I blinked or something and he actually fell in that moment, because I didn't see him fall myself, he was just gone. We looked over and saw no one. It wasn't a sharp fall like a cliff, but if he did fall he would've rolled into a tree wall and still be visible in the narrow forrested strip before the river. But we just didn't see anyone there. We called out to no reply. My mom was worried he could be knocked out so she called a ranger to check on him and we drove off. On the way back she also described to me what she saw, " I saw him walking toward us on the side, then he was nowhere to be seen. I just assumed he fell off.

What happened to this mysterious man and was he even there at all? Even more bizarre is a report from Reddit user “Brownfletchling,” which is an utterly surreal tale indeed. He says that he had been out elk hunting deep in the Laramie Range of the state of Wyoming, along with his father amongst the aspen covered mountains. They were to be out there for a week, in an area remote and far removed from civilization as we know it, and at one point they decided to make a hike over to a neighboring valley to find the elk that were thus far evading them. Along the way the witness spied a mysterious light on the horizon coming down one of the ridges to go down into the valley across the way, seeming to bob up and down and fluctuate in intensity as it went. He just assumed it was another hunter’s flashlight and sort of tried to put it out of his mind at the time. The next day they managed to shoot an elk and the witness was lugging about more than 70 pounds of meat on his back. As they clambered along through the wilderness, he says he looked back out in the direction he had seen the light, and he says of what happened next:

Now, here's where things get weird. As I got to the top, carrying ~70 pounds of raw meat on my back, I stopped to catch my breath. At this point, I remembered the light I had seen earlier that morning. I glanced over to where it had been, and to my surprise, silhouetted against the (now overcast) sky, was a guy in dark clothing walking along the ridge. This was the first thing that struck me as odd. These mountains are not exactly a tourist destination, so the only people that should be out here are hunters, but this guy wasn't wearing any camouflage at all. I looked at him through my binoculars, and he was wearing what looked like a black hoodie with black jeans, and a black beanie hat. More stereotypical burglar than elk hunter. No backpack, no walking stick, nothing to suggest he was out on a back country trip or anything. He walked around looking at the ground in front of him, like he was looking for something. This was a fairly narrow valley, so he was maybe 600 yards away, but he didn't seem to notice me. I was still catching my breath, so I decided to just sit and watch him through my binoculars for a while to see where he went.


Now, here's where things get REALLY weird. As I watched him with binoculars, he suddenly froze. Like I was watching a recording and someone hit pause, he stopped mid-stride, one foot still in the air. I thought I was seeing things, so I pulled the binoculars away to do the naked-eye test, but he was just... Gone... Absolutely gone... I quickly put the binoculars back up, just in time to hear a loud echoing pop come from the direction he had been, like a gunshot but with a different ring to it. Scanning with the binoculars turned up nothing, just a barren, empty ridge top with no man in black to be seen. I didn't know what to do. I had close to a ton of elk meat left to transport, and now I might have to do search and rescue for a random guy who apparently froze time and disappeared right in front of me. I decided to just carry on as normal, because I didn't like the thought of leaving my dad to the cougars any longer than I had to. I went the rest of the way to our truck and dropped off my pack load.

The witness kept moving along until he heard a loud sound like a pop, which was strong enough to send some panicked birds scattering. He says that the sound was closer than it had been before, putting him immediately on edge, and when he got through the tree line he could see the same mysterious figure again, this time on his side of the valley. The man was moving along while looking at the ground, heading towards a thicket around 150 yards away before suddenly stopping in place as if he had been frozen in time. The witness explains:

His clothing didn't move, and his foot wasn't all the way on the ground yet, making him stand in a very off-balance way that shouldn't have been possible. This time, I was also close enough to hear him. As he froze, a groaning-wheezing sound came out, like all the air was being forced out of his now rigid lungs. This time, I didn't miss the moment he disappeared either. I watch unblinking as he just ceased to exist in a fraction of an instant, followed closely by the now-telltale pop.


I'd like to say I was brave and went to investigate where he had been. Nope. I ran. Not back to the truck, but up over the ridge to the elk carcass in the next valley, where my dad was waiting with 2 stacks of meat. He clearly didn't believe me 100% when I told him my story, but he was intrigued when I mentioned the pop sound. "I heard that a few minutes ago, I thought you or somebody else was shooting at something up there," was his only comment. We loaded up the rest of my elk and headed up the ridge together this time. As we crested the ridge for the last time, the hair on the back of my neck all stood up involuntarily, like I was about to be hit by lighting. I instinctively turned around, and from farther up the ridgeline, I could see him coming towards us. Except, he wasn't searching the ground this time. He was sprinting, right for us, closing fast. I got Dad's attention, pointing to the man in black sprinting right at us, as I pulled my rifle down from my shoulder. The man, now only a short distance away, sees my gun, slows down, and for the first time I heard him yell, "PLEASE! HELP ME! PLEASE!!!”


Just as the last syllable escapes his mouth, he freezes again, mid stride, not more than 20 feet away. My dad and I exchanged glances as the poor guy's lungs leaked air again. His eyes were frozen open, his face contorted in a permanent scream of panic. This time, when he disappeared into thin air, the loud pop was followed by a shockwave of hot air hard enough to make us both stumble back a couple steps. We got out of there fast after that, making it the rest of the way back to the truck in record time. I don't think either of us spoke until we were all the way out to a main road again, heading the 40 or so miles to the nearest town, when my dad finally said, "Let's hunt somewhere else tomorrow."

What in the world was going on here? Other strange anomalies seem to have to do with distortions of time or the area itself, such as is the case with a witness who says he had been returning from a road trip with some friends and driving through a remote mountain area at night along a twisting road that was completely devoid of any other traffic. His mother called him on his cell phone and he informed her that they were only about 25 minutes away from their destination. There was a serene calm that then fell across them, and then intense strangeness would begin to unfold. The witness says:

It was a full moon and we could see the reflection from a lake below us and other than that the road was completely empty. Suddenly everything went completely dark in the car, no lights from the dash or gauges or headlights on the road. The music also stopped and re-started at the beginning of the CD we were listening to. There was now a vehicle pulled over by the police about 1/4 mile in front of us that hadn't been there a spilt second before. I assumed I had dozed off for just a second as it was late. I thought it was still quite peculiar, though. After about a minute, the driver of the car turned the music all the way down and said 'Did that just happen to anyone else?'


The other passenger in the back seat sat forward abruptly and exclaimed 'I thought I just fell asleep...' We then realized that the clock in the car was reading an hour later than it just had a minute before. To keep ourselves from freaking out we decided that the car had possibly had a momentary electrical failure and reset the clock to an odd time, turned off the dash lights, headlights, and gauges, and restarted the CD player. But when we arrived home 25 minutes later, we were one hour late. I am missing an hour of my life, and to this day have no idea how it happened.

How can we explain this time lapse and where did they go? In another case relayed directly to me we have a witness who had been out hiking at the Rocky Mountain National Park on what had been an otherwise calm, sunny, and peaceful day, before the weirdness would set it to full effect. He says that it began with a sort of low humming and thrumming in the air, reminiscent of some sort of heavy machinery in the distance, and that this grew in intensity until it became loud to the point that it almost hurt his ears, reverberating through his skull until it was almost unbearable. Then, there was a sudden pop, and a blanket of silence came crashing down around him, drowning out any ambient noise. He says of what would happen next:

There was this POP and then nothing. No sounds of the forest, no singing birds, no nothing. I looked around and noticed that the wind that had been coming through the area minutes before was gone, and that the branches and leaves of the tree were completely still. I don’t mean just that there was no wind, but they were still, still, like, not even wavering at all, as if they were frozen in time. It was a pretty unsettling feeling, and I wandered about trying to make sense of it, and that was when I saw something that blew my mind. There, hanging in thin air as if suspended in amber was a bird, just stuck there in mid flight. It was completely frozen there, just as still as the branches of the trees, and with the utter silence all around I began to sort of panic. Then that POP came again, and the sounds of the forest rolled over me and that bird jumped to life to fly off. I have no idea what happened to me that day, but it has stayed with me ever since.

Was this some sort of time rift, with everything temporarily paused around the witness for reasons unknown? Who knows? In other cases, the witnesses themselves seem to have been transported to another time or place through some sort of reality shift. One very bizarre case was mentioned in Brad Steiger’s book The Reality Game and How to Win It, and concerns a man named Charles W. Ingersoll, of Cloquet, Minnesota. In 1955, Ingersoll made his first trip to the Grand Canyon, bringing along his brand new, top-of-the-line camera along with him. According to the report, a week after returning to Michigan he chanced upon an old Grand Canyon travelogue dated 1948 in a book store and he purchased it. Much to his surprise, he found within its pages a picture of him there at the Grand Canyon in 1948, which was remarkably odd because his first trip there had been in 1955, a full 7 years later. Oddly, he had actually planned to go to the Grand Canyon in 1948 but had cancelled his trip at the time. Even odder still, in the 1948 picture he was holding his new camera manufactured in 1955. How could he have appeared in a picture from 1948 in a place he wouldn’t go to for another 7 years? Was this some glimpse into a parallel dimension in which he had taken his planned 1948 trip? If so, then why was he holding a 1955 camera? Who knows?

Other cases seem to have to do with some strange forces distorting not time, but space, locations, and even the terrain itself. One report given to me by reader is from a witness who had been hiking with some friends, when one of them commented that it seemed they were going in circles because they had passed the same very noticeable and unique rock formation. The others didn’t see how this was possible, and just sort of wrote it off as a similar formation, after which they continued on. A few minutes later, they passed the formation again, and this was when they began to take notice. The witness says:

We examined the area very carefully, noticed the slightly crooked tree off to the side, made notes of piece of trash lodged into a crevasse of one of the rocks, and moved on. A few minutes later, we come to the formation again, same crooked tree, same piece of trash. At this point we are a little freaked out, and decide to experiment. We head off to the left, a few minutes later we get to the formation, trash, crooked tree. We go to the right, formation, trash, crooked tree. No mater what we did we passed by that same scene over and over again until finally we were suddenly out of this loop or whatever it was and saw some different scenery. To this day I cannot explain it, and I wonder what would have happened if we had been stuck in that state.

Other reports or strangeness in the wilderness are just as weird, but somewhat even harder to really classify. According to one online account, a poster calling himself “paddjo95” related how he and his younger brother had one day ventured out to go exploring around the woods surrounding their isolated, rural home in southern Arkansas. They headed down the road that led to their house trying to find some new path or trail that they could explore, but what they eventually found surprised them. As they walked along, they came across a brand new looking paved road, looking decidedly out of place and something they would have surely noticed before after living in the area for 12 years. They explained it away by speculating that it must have been built rather recently, although nobody had seen any road work being done.

Curious, the two brothers set out along this strange road and things would only get more bizarre. According to the witness, as soon as they set foot on the road the air became noticeably colder, and additionally the road was lined by unusual, thick red trees similar to redwood trees, which were of a type they had never seen before. They supposedly walked several miles along the road and then decided to head back, noting that the air immediately became warmer again as soon as they stepped off it. As it was getting dark, they decided to come back and explore this odd road again the next day, but when they returned the following afternoon they could find no sign of the road or those weird trees they had seen. They reportedly scoured the area for hours but it was as if the road and its trees had never existed at all. On top of this, their parents denied that any road work had been done in the area and insisted there were no paved roads anywhere near them. Had that road they found been one into another reality that had temporarily brushed up against our own? Was this a glitch in the Matrix?

There is also Reddit user “bluesable,” who gives an account of driving through the Smoky Mountains of the Eastern United States when he and his friend had a rather curious brush with forces beyond their understanding. The night was dark and the witness was nervous about driving through the slashing rain that was tearing through at the time. It was getting to the point where he had lost faith in his ability to navigate the winding, narrow mountain road, and that is where things would unfurl into the realm of the odd. He says:

My friend and I were leaving out of the smoky mountain area, going over black mountain. It was dark and raining so hard I couldn’t see past the windshield. We are both Floridians, so, night time rainy mountain driving was neither of our strong suits. I was driving. I wanted to pull over and either wait it out or let him drive but the only time I could make out an exit was by looking out the passenger side window as we were passing it. The road was nothing but curves and concrete barrier walls.. no shoulder to pull off on and if there was I wouldn’t have seen it anyway. By this point I’m pretty sure if I keep driving we are going to crash. My passenger is trying to help me see to be able to pull off the road and neither of us are having any luck. He knows and I know this will not end well. So he made the call to let the loved ones know that we are in this situation and if anything happens .. we love ‘em.. by the time we hung up the phone he was in the driver seat and I was in the passenger seat and neither of us knows how that happened. It happened 10 or so years ago and I still can’t come up with a logical explanation for how that happened.

Another rather odd event that seems to defy easy categorization is given on the site Brainjet, and it comes from a witness in the country of Finland. He says that he had been on a camping trip with some friends out in the remote wilderness in the northern reaches of the country, full of unspoiled forests, mountains, swamps, and wildlife. This was supposedly quite a no man’s land, secluded and divorced from the world as we know it, and there was little to no chance of encountering anyone else out there. But encounter something they did. They spent some time one evening of their week-long trip chatting and having fun, but things would change for the strange, with the witness saying:

When we quieted down we began to hear it: talking. And the sound of machinery. Given our location, this was profoundly weird. Maybe there was another camp somewhere near us? We couldn't quite make out what was being said, but it was a human voice, no doubt about it. But nothing really could explain the sound of heavy machinery. It sounded like an excavator or a tank, something big, powerful, and really not too far away. Combined with the sound of talking, we thought 'construction yard.' But at that time of night, in an unpopulated, protected nature reserve? We got out of our tent. It was cold and pitch black, the campfire had some coals still glowing. We took out our flashlights. My two buddies have always been a lot braver than me.


The sound was clearly coming from the north, maybe half a kilometer away. We thought the construction might be going on behind a small hill some distance away. We could see no lights or anything. We still could not make out what was being said. The speaking-like voice was monotonous, and it was impossible to even to say what language was being used, still sounded a lot like a person speaking though.

The two friends got ready and headed out into the cold night, determined to find the source of this sound, while the witness stayed behind to watch the camp. Although they said they would only be gone for 15 minutes, this turned into an hour, and the witness began to fear for his friends’ safety. It seemed that judging from the sheer volume of the anomalous sound they should have reached it by then, but still there was no word from either of them and 1 hour stretched to 2. That was when the strange, grinding noise and the indefinable voices suddenly stopped as suddenly as it had sprung up, leaving a noticeable silence in their wake. The witness then describes what happened next thusly:

I waited for another 30 minutes, very worried now that something had happened, that maybe my friends were lost. Should I go and try to find them? I shouted their names several times and built the fire pretty big. I was scared crapless when suddenly I saw the flashlights of my friends. Apparently, they were returning in a hurry. The guys got back to camp, out of breath. They told me the following: They had followed the sound beyond the small ridge in the distance. There was nothing there and it seemed like they were not getting any closer to the source of the sounds. They had to stop every now and then, be quiet and listen to it to be able to walk towards it. They walked and stopped like this for some time, then realized they were not getting any closer. The sounds did not change in volume at all. They decided to go 'just a bit further' several times when suddenly the sound just stopped like someone pressed a button on a recording.


They realized they had been going on for a long time. They were in the middle of the dark woods, alone. They reversed the heading and started back at a brisk pace. Eventually, they saw my big fire from the top of a hill and found their way back.The weird thing is, we seemed to think the sound stopped at different times. They had been gone 2.5 hours in total. They said the sounds stopped at around the 1 hour 15 minutes mark after they left, they then started to head back immediately, return trip taking a bit longer even though they kept a good pace, they apparently wandered around a bit. For me, the sound stopped at the 2-hour mark, just 30 minutes before they returned. We did not sleep that night. Nothing more happened on that trip and we never found out what the weird construction yard-like sound was about. When we returned to the parks visitor center some 5 days later, we asked around but no one knew of any ongoing construction taking place in the whole national park area. Been bugging me ever since…

What can we say about this other than that it is completely outlandish? Was this something purposefully drawing them away and trying to get them lost? These cases we have looked at are so varied that it is difficult to really come to any sort of conclusion on what has happened that could apply to them all. Are these perhaps portals to some other realms at work, hiccups in the space-time continuum, glitches in some virtual reality program we live in, time loops, glimpses into alternate dimensions, or what? Is reality itself in flux or being manipulated somehow by inscrutable forces? Or are they all just embellished tall tales no better than fiction? Whatever one believes, such oddities are often reported from the wild places of our world, and whatever causes them, it is certainly enough to make one think about one's surroundings when stepping into the woods.

Brent Swancer

Brent Swancer is an author and crypto expert living in Japan. Biology, nature, and cryptozoology still remain Brent Swancer’s first intellectual loves. He's written articles for MU and Daily Grail and has been a guest on Coast to Coast AM and Binnal of America.

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