It is no secret that people go missing in the wilderness all of the time. The reasons for this are many, including getting lost, the elements, the harrowing, often forbidding terrain, and vicious wild animals. The wilds often seem to be a place where we are rather out of our element, and it should come as no surprise that people should on occasion go missing without a trace. Yet, it seems that this often happens under very strange circumstances, with various odd clues fluttering about. This has been covered most extensively by author and researcher David Paulides, who with his Missing 411 series of books has given a far-ranging picture of just how odd many of these disappearances can get. However, whereas most of his cases involve people who have just vanished into thin air, sometimes there are those who seem to have escaped being "taken" out in the wilderness, coming back to bring us tales of almost vanishing and mysterious forces potentially prowling the wilds. Here we look at a selection of hikers who came across things that they cannot understand, and which may suggest inscrutable forces looking to whisk away the unwary to join the legions of those who have disappeared without a trace.
Some of these cases seem to involve some sort of confusion instilled within the victim, or even a distortion of the landscape itself, as if some force is intentionally trying to infiltrate their mind to get them lost. A good example of this is a report given by Reddit user “Rosetta 9,” who says that in July of 2016 she was on a personal retreat at a yoga center in Colorado, during which time she set out to take a hike in the rugged surrounding wilderness. The trail she was on is described as being well-traveled and clearly marked, so it should have been an easy hike with no complications at all, and at first it was all rather pleasant. At one point along the trail, she says she stepped slightly off the trail to look at a sign that had been posted on a tree, a rather innocuous action to take, but this is where things would take a sharp turn into the bizarre She says:
I walked maybe five feet off trail to have a look at a brightly colored sign attached to a tree which gave the name of the national forest I was in. I read the sign, turned around to get back on trail, and literally the trail was not there. I found myself in a different location. How could this be possible I thought to myself, and then of course, one begins to panic when things go so wonky. I calmed myself and circled the area trying to find the trail, or some way to get back on track, but it was not there. I made sure to not wander from the small area I was in, yet I was still searching for a way out. I retraced my steps to find the tree with the brightly colored national park placard as a way to reorientate my location, but it was not there either.
As I walked in the direction I came from, there was barbed wire fence all around. I then began to get what I can only describe as a very creepy feeling that I was being watched and the panic set in again. I knew I must not panic and that I had to stay in the area I was in. I felt as if there was an energy trying to get me to go in a certain direction, but my gut, my intuitive self, said NO, don't go there. Then I thought to call 911 or my husband who was 30 miles away. Not sure if I could've gotten service, but again, my gut very strongly said NO, do not get on your phone. Then in the distance, I began hearing the voices of people talking. Oh good, I thought, I'll call out for help, as I just assumed that if I could hear them, they would hear me. So I cried out for help, screaming for help as loud as I could. Then I began to have this terrifying feeling that the sound of my voice was going nowhere. The best way, in retrospect, I can describe it, is that I was very small, in a petri dish being looked at and the sound of my voice was being muffled. I literally thought to myself at this point, “oh, this is how some people go missing.”
That's when I knew I had to absolutely find a way out. I ran straight away and there in front of me was a field so I just began running in the direction of the yoga center. The grasses got taller and taller as I ran and were taller than me in places. It was a very dry and hot Colorado summer, but this field was like a marsh or bog with dips and holes. I was sinking in, as if in quick sand, as I was running and at one point badly twisted my ankle. It felt like I was going in slow motion, but I was running as fast as I could. Eventually, I got to a trail just near the facility. I sat down on a chair by a small lake that is on the property and was really in a dazed and confused state as to what I had just experienced. Mostly I was just incredibly thankful to be sitting there. I remember too, my eyes were burning badly, like I had been doused with some sort of chemical. For days they were quite red and still burning.
Luckily she was finally able to find her way back, but what was going on here? Why did she get so lost and what was the origin of the strange physical symptoms she experienced? What was about to happen to her? This is all very odd indeed, with numerous little strange clues that seem to tie into some of the details that have been found across some of the Missing 411 cases, such as the fact that she experienced incredible disorientation, and a sense of something calling or pulling the victim away from safety to make them ever more lost, often against their better judgement. Another strange detail is that the witness in this case claims that she had been wearing striking hot pink hiking pants, which is relevant because strangely bright colors seem to be a recurring theme in many mysterious disappearances.
In another case from Redditor “blueraindrops,” who claims she grew up on the outskirts of a national forest on the border of North Carolina and Tennessee, says that her brush with the bizarre happened while out hiking and taking photos with her husband and two children at Clingman’s Dome, in the Great Smoky Mountains of the eastern United States. The hike they were taking was a popular, paved route that leads to an observation deck, and is described as a “super easy” little trek. They indeed made it to the deck itself with no trouble, took some pictures, and admired the breathtaking view, but it was as they were there that things would turn ominous, beginning with their youngest 6 year old child complaining of a potent headache and of feeling very hot, to the point that the witness decided she had to carry physically him back to the car, where she said she would wait for the rest of them.
She says that at the time the area was uncommonly quiet and devoid of anyone else, and that she started back down along the trail carrying her son, still within eyeshot of the rest of her family. As they walked along, the son complained more intensely, saying that his ears and head hurt, and with the weight of him tiring her out the witness decided to sit down for a rest off the trail, and this is when she realized that the air around her was completely still, silent, and devoid of any sound, of which she says “No wind, not a fucking thing. It was like someone pressed pause on the area, or that the forest was holding its breath would be another way to describe it.” At this point thoughts of the paranormal were not in her head yet, as took this to be a sign that a tornado was imminent, looking around in a panic to see if one was coming. Then a series of very strange things would play out, and she describes what happened thusly:
By now the hair on my neck is standing up and it is just a general sick feeling I'm getting thinking a tornado is about to begin and suck us up. I actually started to feel afraid to look around me and focused on my kid and calming him down. At this point the area had this ominous, heavy feeling. I can't explain that one either, almost like I was afraid to look because I wouldn't like what I would see, like when you're a kid and you are afraid to look under your bed at night or something. I know it sounds insane.
So we had been there for about 10 minutes or so when I got myself semi together and had a really strong, almost primal urge to get the hell out and down the trail. I picked up my still crying kid and literally ran the rest of the way. When we got there my husband and other child were nowhere to be found. He had the keys so we had to wait, at this point it was only our car and two others still there. I assumed those two were on another, less easy trail so I let little one sit on the hood and prepared for the wait. At this point I was still feeling leftover heebie jeebies from the creepy quiet where we rested off the trail but my kid was no longer complaining about his ears or his head. A few seconds later my oldest son comes racing down from the SAME FUCKING TRAIL we just came from with a look of sheer panic on his face before he turns his head and starts screaming that he found mom and brother. He was followed by my husband not even a minute later. My other son had been visibly crying and my husband immediately started screaming at us about where the hell we have been and if we are OK. I asked him what his issue was, and told him that I sent him a text saying we were resting for a little while off the edge of the trail.
Now here is what made my blood run cold. He told me they had been looking for us for over 3 hours. I called him a liar, and that it probably just felt like hours. I said we were resting for about 10 minutes, but after checking my phone, his phone and even the clock in the car, it turned out that we really had be gone for about three and a half hours. Besides this, my husband and other child said they had went up and down the paved trail to the viewing deck three or four times while calling mine and my little son's name. This would have been impossible to miss because sound carries to an extreme level in that area, you could yell and it be heard a mile away. I promptly turned and asked my little son if he still needed his migraine medicine and he said the noise making his head hurt was gone and he was fine now. My husband asked him what noise and he said it sounded like a big bumble bee inside his head. We hauled out of there as fast as we could, all the while with my explaining every detail to my husband, who basically told me to shut up til we get home and could talk away from the kids. Needless to say, we haven't been back to that area again and my husband is no longer a fan of the woods like he used to be either.
Was something coming for this mother and child, perhaps getting ready to snatch them away to who knows where? How can we explain this incident of lost time, or how no one was able to find them for 3 hours when they had been sitting just feet off of a well-delineated trail? Our next account comes from Reddit user “jsstealthss,” who says he is a U.S. Armed Forces Veteran on the east coast, and that on this day him and his young son had set out on a leisurely hike on a calm, clear day, along a trail that was very clear and well-maintained, with frequent clear trail markers. Yet as they walked the witness says that things began to seem somewhat “off,” with the trail markers suddenly disappearing as they walked and a strange silence swept over the area. As he stood there puzzled by this sudden wall of quiet, the silence was broken by a loud, startling snap, and he says of what happened next:
This is where shit got surreal. As I looked back, I noticed that the trail I was walking on lost all sense of familiarity. There were trees I didn't see, certain plants I know for sure weren't there before, etc. But regardless, I kept my composure and stared deeply into the woods to see what made that snapping sound. I scanned the area and didn't see any life forms, but for some reason, my eyes started to fixate on a particularly unnerving dark section of the forest. For whatever reason, my entire body started locking up, and every single alarm bell in my head was pinging. No matter how hard I tried to focus on this dark patch, I couldn't see shit. I had the weirdest sensation of being able to see each individual branch and plant in high detail, but I couldn't focus on the scene overall. It was super blurry. I also felt my internal fight-or-flight mechanism flipping between the two decisions faster than a coin in a coin toss.
I stood there for what felt like an eternity, trying to figure out why my senses were not working anymore. The instinctual part of my brain was screaming that there was something there, but I absolutely could not observe it. Whatever little light that was in this area seemed to bend around this one central point, somewhat like how a cloaking device works. It was a minor distortion, but enough to make it strangely obvious. I then noticed how I haven't heard a peep from the forest this entire time, and I was feeling very cold even during 85+ degree weather. I could not shake this feeling of impending doom, probably what one feels when they are on their death bed. I felt exceptionally vulnerable because I was not armed and bad no way of dealing with whatever the hell this was. Eventually, I was able to snap out of my trance briefly to look down at my son, and saw that his body was contorted around his seat, frozen and staring exactly where this anomaly was, with his mouth agape and his eyes wide and dilated. This is when I KNEW that I wasn't hallucinating, and that we needed to get the hell out of there.
I took advantage of my brief moment of clarity and ran like the wind, with my son in tow. I looked back only once, and saw that my boy was still looking towards the area, but not frozen in place anymore. It took all of about a couple minutes to get out past the tree line and onto a main road. For whatever reason, I broke down and started crying. My son looked at me like I was crazy lol. But anyways, I had never felt such sheer terror over what seemed like NOTHING in my whole life. I hadn't felt that way at all in any point of my life, in fact. The feeling that my son and I are completely vulnerable, and that I wouldn't have been able to defend either of us. I also never had that distinct feeling of being able to see things perfectly, yet not be able to register any of it in my head. My morbid curiosity wants me to revisit the place, equipped with a firearm and a GoPro to record any events that would arise, but I am still trying to get over this previous experience for now. I have been in scary situations before, but this trumps anything I have ever experienced before.
It is interesting to note with this case the presence of that “dark patch” he mentions. What connection does this have to the strange experience, if any? Was it maybe some sort of entity stalking them for inscrutable, nefarious purposes? In some of these reports there definitely does seem to be some malevolent presence involved, as is the case with an account by Reddit user “justa33556,” who had his alleged encounter while on a hike with his girlfriend at Starved Rock state park, in Illinois. He says they came across an area where the trees had had branches broken off about 8 feet up in the air, which they both considered to be quite odd, and making it stranger still was that he suddenly got the unshakable sensation that he was being intently watched, practically feeling eyes boring into the back of his skull. They continued on their walk, and could even see other hikers in the area, but he could not determine from where the persistent, intense sensation of being watched was coming from. He claims that he increasingly felt that they were being followed, and that it when the true strangeness would set in. He reports:
Every time I would walked forward it felt like someone was behind me so I kept turning around to check. I told the GF to go in front of me and let her go about 20' in front. So I turn around not more than 30 sec.s since the last time I looked and there this woman there, coming up on me fast. It was bizarre. She was walking when I first spotted her but her speed was much faster than her gait would take her. It was like she was an a people mover escalator like in the airports. She was coming up fast. I glared at her and she stopped when our eyes met. I gave her a look like 'wtf are you doing coming up on me like that'. She looked completely normal, like a local Chicago lady, mid-50s, bright red winter coat, etc. In hindsight two other things stood out. There was no sound, no footsteps, rustling in the woods, nothing before I saw her. At the speed she was moving she would have had to be running hard but I didn't hear footsteps, she wasn't breathing hard and her gait was a walking gait not running. But she was moving towards me at like a running speed! When she stopped we were less than 20' from each other.
The next thing that stands out is her features. She had no distinguishing features in her hair, skin or clothes. No shadowing or skin hues, dimples, etc. As a former criminal investigator I know to look for distinctive markings. There were none. Even her clothes were a uniform color yet indistinct in any way. It was like she just stepped out of a department store. After us staring at each other for a bit I felt like I had gotten my point across. She had her head cocked back, to her left and looked at me from the corner of her eyes in a slightly alarmed 'you caught me' look. So after I felt I made my point I turned around and continued walking.
The gf had not seen her and had continued walking. I took about 3 steps and then realized there was no way she could have come up from that group of people in the 30 or so seconds since I'd last looked back. There was also no where to come from on either side that wasn't visible for hundreds of feet. I said to myself "no way!" and spun back around. She was gone. Simply vanished. I checked the group way behind us and no one had a red coat on. No one else was around and there were no sounds other than my foot falls. That woman just vanished. No drugs or alcohol were involved and both are prohibited in my line of work. It took us about 10 minutes to reach the car and for the remainder of the walk I did not feel like I was being stared at or followed. I have never been back there and am never going back there. After reading many Missing 411 accounts and the profile of disappearances I believe I narrowly averted being snatched by whatever that thing was. I do not think it was the woman I saw. I think it was something different which I could not see.
What was this entity that he feels was intent on snatching him? Where did it go and what did it want? Who knows? A similarly ominous experience happened to Reddit user “bee73086” while on her family’s annual camping trip at a tiny, remote lake called Lake Almanor, up in Lassen County, California. On this day her and her cousin decided to take a hike along a creek that meandered through the densely forested area, and as they made their way through the wilderness they became aware of a faint rhythmic sound reminiscent of someone beating on a drum. It was weird, but they sort of just shrugged it off and continued on their way. However, as they hiked along the drumming sound seemed to get louder, closer, and they became increasingly unnerved by it. That is when they would have a truly surreal experience, of which she says:
The drumming became noticeably louder. It was coming from all around us in the same steady dull beat. It had a kind of droning quality, and soon I could begin to feel it vibrating in my ears, thudding alongside my heart inside my body. That was when things began to feel very weird. I no longer felt uneasy, but instead I felt this deep peace, like I was asleep and dreaming. I kept putting one foot in front of the other and climbing the mountain but it was like I was in a trance, not making the decision to continue, but instead being drawn upwards. We kept walking in total silence for a long time, that sound pounding and getting louder.
We reached a place where a waterfall tumbled down from a rock ledge maybe six feet over head. It was an easy walk up and around to get to the next tier of the creek but I stopped, and my cousin stopped near me. In a daze we looked at the beautiful pool at the foot of the falls. It was dripping with ferns and moss, and the bottom was formed by small, colorful stones. The beat was faster now, close and enveloping, but seeming to still come from nowhere. I looked at the falls and felt an intense longing to walk above them, to continue on forever up the mountain and see all the beauty beyond. We were still for such a long time, until finally my cousin said, “I think if we keep going, we don’t ever get to come back.” When I looked at her I knew I felt the same thing, and I felt a splash of adrenaline. We turned and started back down the mountain.
As we descended, the foggy feeling began to clear, the beat began to fade, and I felt more and more the urgent need to get away. Finally ‘awake,’ I was covered in goosebumps, and was leaping and tripping over things to go as fast as I could. We passed the big root system and both spontaneously said, “Thank you!” and started giggling nervously. As we finally hit the meadow we started to relax and I laughed and said something like, “Wow we really have big imaginations.” Finally we crossed the meadow, and stopped to turn around and look back . Just then, a loud, sharp, unmistakable “YAWP!” echoed down the mountain, emanating from exactly where we’d been. Every hair on my body stood up, and I knew, I just KNEW, that If we hadn’t turned around at the waterfall, we would never have left that mountain again. We ran back to camp as fast as we could go.
Looking at bizarre cases such as these we are left to wonder, were these people possibly targeted by forces beyond our comprehension for reasons we cannot fathom? Is it at least possible that these witnesses might have stepped off the face of the earth as surely as those written of in the Missing 411 books and in other cases of those who have stepped into the wilderness never to return? Of course many of those who have disappeared in the wild areas of our planet most definitely simply succumbed to the elements and were defeated by nature in the end, but in some cases is there something perhaps beyond nature at work? Accounts such as we have looked at here seem to suggest there might be, and perhaps point to something more sinister beyond the veneer of what we can see, roiling about in the green places of our world.