Just as mysterious as people who have vanished without a trace are those who seem to have almost vanished, that is to say, confronted by enigmatic forces that seem to have wanted to "take" them. This is a theme that seems to come up time and time again especially in relation to cases of people vanishing in the wilds, most notably in cases covered by researcher David Paulides in his Missing 411 series of books, which deal with very odd disappearances in forests that often have a somewhat surreal or even supernatural feel to them. There is no real way to know what has happened to these people, but in the cases of those who have returned from the experience to tell the tale we can glean some possible clues. I have covered this here recently with seemingly paranormal forces luring people to their near doom, but other cases are a bit different in that it seems that something has been, in a sense, hunting them. Here we will look at some more cases of the almost vanished that suggest that there are dark entities out in the wilds of our world looking for victims and perhaps making people vanish without a trace.

One interesting feature of some reports of being stalked through the forest is that on many occasions the predatory presence is felt and heard more than seen. Strange sounds and an inexplicable, thick blanket of ill-defined fear and dread are common, as is conversely the sudden absence of sound, and also often the feeling of being watched, and one report that illustrates this is one from the Missing 411 Reddit forum by a poster called “savedavidbowie.” She says that happened at a place called Stone Mountain State Park, in the U.S. state of North Carolina, not far from where she lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains, and that she is an avid, seasoned hiker and outdoorsman. She says that she has had two experiences of being stalked by a seemingly malicious presence in the park, the first of which she says:

This happened last year while hiking with my boyfriend and our dog. We had see a couple of the waterfalls that day and were going to hike to to the lower falls. There had been very heavy rain for a few days and I knew this trails has several creek crossings. I decided I didn’t want to get wet and told my bf to go on without me and I would wait. The falls were only another 1/2 mile or so ahead. Bf and dog go on across the creek and disappear out of my line of sight. As soon as I couldn’t see them anymore I was suddenly aware of how quiet the woods were. No birds chirping or squirrels rustling leaves. I don’t usually get spooked but all of a sudden I had this overwhelming sense of dread. I felt as if something was watching me and I could shake the feeling. I had an urge to run after my bf and started the creek crossing when I saw him come dashing back towards me. He too had an overwhelming sense of dread and didn’t get 10 min down the trail before he turned and ran back to me. He said he couldn’t shake the feeling something was going to attack me. This was around 11am on a summer day so not very likely a big cat or bear would be out at this time.

This sense of overwhelming fear and the abrupt silence of the forest is very common in these types of reports, and is often observed by more than one witness. In her second account we have the same unshakeable fear from nowhere, as well as anomalous noises from the trees. She says of this occasion:

This incident was very scary because I was alone with my dog. We were hiking the same section of Stone Mountain but a different trail called wolf rock. On the way up I had seen many trees that were scorched but could have been due to lightening. ( I have pics of the trees, just assumed it was lightening burns). Started getting an ominous feeling so started picking up my pace to head back. When I was about a mile from my car I heard what can only be described as a super sonic boom. It shook the ground and rattled the trees. It spooked me and my dog so bad we ran most of the way back to the car. Tried later describing the sound to my bf to no avail since I never heard anything like it. Not gun fire, not a plane, not a rock slide which I’ve all heard before. But while reading another person’s story on this sub it sparked my memory. They described the sound they heard as a giant sledge hammer hitting a tin wall. That’s the beat way I can describe the noise I heard. That metallic bang reverberating through the woods. Very unsettling.

What could be behind this noise? This metallic noise sometimes pops up in reports like this, and another is a noise that sounds like someone or something knocking a club against a tree, a sort of wood-knocking sound that is usually perceived as very unsettling. We can see this in a report from the same forum from a poster called “nahatokyo,” who had her experience in the sprawling Algonquin Provincial Park, in Ontario, Canada. On this day she was out canoeing with two friends in the park at a place called Rock Lake, and they decided to camp out on shore. It was a very windy evening, but she says she was alarmed when at some point in the middle of the night the roaring, whipping wind just suddenly stopped, as if it had been simply turned off. It wasn’t a slow decrease of wind; it was just there one moment and gone the next, and there were also no sounds of insects anymore, just total silence. She was already alarmed by this, but it was made worse when she could feel an incredible sense of danger and palpable dread all around her. Her friends were still asleep, and she says of the feeling she had:

I wanted to wake my friends but I thought they would think I was just over worried. The silence was overbearing and I began to feel the most intense sense of dread I've ever had seemingly for no reason. I then heard what sounded like loud knocks on trees in the distance? I don’t know what that could’ve been but it was making me feel worse. The wind eventually came back after about 20 minutes and I tried to get more sleep. I was nearly dozed off when I heard a sound in my head sort of like when you get hurt in video games. Like a high-pitched frequency that got higher in frequency as it went on. I had an intense feeling of dread in this moment and I stayed up to sunrise and couldn’t sleep. I didn’t even mention it to me friends because they were asleep and would probably just shrug it off.

The next day she stayed silent about her weird experience the night before, but it was still very much weighing on her mind when they pushed out to do some more canoeing on the lake. They pushed out towards a place called Rose Island, and it was here where a variety of strange sounds would come from the surrounding wilderness, as if something was out there with them that didn’t want them there. She says:

Later we canoed to a place in rock lake called rose island. On this island as we collected wood for our fire, I began to hear a variety of weird sounds. The weirdest was a knocking sound which consisted of five very low frequency knocks which sped up like this “. . ...” I could not think of an animal that would make this sound. I have heard woodpeckers and they are much higher pitched. We then heard what sounded like wood banging on trees but from different directions and from different directions as well. Later we were hiking and I saw a black mass in the forest which looked like a black bear. We ran away and decided to leave camp and come home because we both had a feeling of complete dread after seeing it.

In this report one wonders if the black object they saw had anything to do with the report and if so, just how did it connect? Along with the wood-knocking, it almost seems as if they might have been terrorized by a Bigfoot, as wood-knocking is a supposed behavior they use to intimidate and possibly communicate with each other. Is that what was going on here? It certainly seems that whatever it was meant them harm. Another strange wood-knocking type case comes from a poster calling himself “peckarino romano,” who says that at the time he was in Federal law enforcement and on this occasion, he was out camping with his friend out in the Chiracachua National Monument area of southeastern Arizona. As they were hiking, he says that the weather got unseasonably foggy and gloomy all of the sudden, and that was when a bizarre series of events would play out, starting with in this case rock-knocking. The witness says:

Shortly after the fog came in, the last part of the bad weather change, we heard a strange set of three knocking noises from behind a hanging rock at the top of the gorge we were in at that point. It sounded vaguely like a heavy tool being slammed against the rock in the cadence of two knocks a quarter second apart, a short second delay, then a third knock. This three knock sequence repeated several times from that location. We stopped as soon as we heard it, and we were immediately made uneasy for some reason. After several set of knocks, it stopped and we started moving about 50 yards when we heard the same several set of knocks from the opposite side of the gorge, then again from a third position that was once again above us on the rim of the gorge near some large monolithic rocks.


We then had a very uneasy and frightened feeling. My friend told me something to the effect of 'hurry up and let's get out of here, I don't like this' and we started moving out of there at a constant jog. for the next five minutes we heard a few more sets of knocks from the three different locations. I felt very much in danger for my life for some reason. At one point we stopped at an outcropping on the rim of the gorge we both had our hands on our holsters and did a quick look at the ridge above us, we had instinctively grabbed cover before doing so, that shows just how disturbed we were.


When we made it to the trail crossroads at the end of the loop near the visitor center, we had lost the feeling of dread about a half a mile back. We went to the visitor center and asked the ranger there if there were any crews working in the area or any groups of people doing something that sounded like the knocking we described. She said that it sounded like we heard woodpeckers, I played my roommate a clip of a woodpecker native in the area via youtube on my phone and the sound was vaguely similar but the tapping of the woodpecker was much faster and it wasn't quite as deep toned. He said "well that does sound like it, we probably just heard that and got freaked out" and I didn't agree, but I felt as if it would be embarrassing to admit I still felt something very weird actually happened so I feigned agreement. We then drove home.

The two later decided that what they had heard was not, in fact, woodpeckers, and we are left to wonder just what was out there stalking them. What was banging on those rocks and why? Was this a possible Bigfoot about to attack? Another unseen stalker was reported by poster “hanny242,” who was at Big Bend National Park, in southern Texas at the time of her experience. She had gone out camping in the area with a friend and her husband, and describes the landscape as flat, desolate, and remote, and the two thought it would be fun to take a night hike out to the nearest trail. Since it was a bright, moonlit evening through flat terrain, they thought it would be easy, but the witness says as a precaution she had set out some rock piles earlier on to help them find their way. After dinner, they headed out at around 10 PM, but they were all in for a terrifying experience. The witness explains:

The first 10 minutes were pretty uneventful, we were all in good spirits. Suddenly we hear a scuttling noise from about 50 feet away behind us. Having been used to animal noises at night, we wrote it off as a critter. A few minutes later we heard the same noise a bit closer and sounding like a bigger animal. There are black bears here, but we weren't in the area they're normally sighted. Like I said the landscape was wide open and we didn't see anything with our flashlights.


We were a bit uneasy, but willing to go on. The rock piles had been doing a good job of leading in the right direction. All at once I stopped, feeling absolute terror. It's an indescribable feeling, I see many others in the sub reference. I knew we were in danger, I just didn't know why. I looked to my friend and my husband who both looked as terrified as I felt. There was no sound, no wind, then in an instant, the most inhuman scream erupted, seemingly, all around us. We all froze for what felt like minutes, but I'm sure it was just seconds. I don't remember making the decision to run back, but the next thing I remember we were all running. We had made it pretty far out, even though I thought I was running in the direction of our camp, I remember scanning for the rock piles I had made but not being able to find any and almost turning back thinking we were headed in the wrong direction, but had this instinct no to. We made to a rather large rock I knew was on the route back to the campsite, I also remembered putting a rock pile beside the rock. I went to check if it was there to make sure we were headed back to our campsite. The rocks were still there, but they had been knocked over.


This set off all the alarms, and I told my friend and my husband that we had to get back to the camp as soon as possible. We made it back a few minutes later, by the time we got back I was entirely freaked out, and didn't want to stay. I think my husband was as well, but my friend convinced us that it was just wildlife. So we stayed in the tent that night. I don't know if it was connected, but there was scuttling and footsteps around the tent all night. Either way, I did not sleep. We did not do any more primitive hiking that trip and opted instead for a campsite in one of the community camps. I've never felt that feeling before or since, and I've been in the woods at night plenty of times. The next day I went out to check if all the rock piles had been knocked down, they had. I don't think an animal would deliberately go around knocking over the markers. That's what really makes me think, it was sentient. I don't know what it was, but I don't want to know and I'm glad we made it out.

What was out there with them, toying with them and possibly hunting them down? Again, was this a possible Bigfoot? There is no way to know, but in some very odd reports the origin of the strange sounds and inexplicable fear is indeed seen, and it doesn’t seem to be a Bigfoot at all. Such reports really run the range of the weird, and first off, we have a report from Reddit user “Throwaway84648” on the Humanoid Encounters forum, who says that on this evening he had headed out to a wooded area in Wisconsin to go to a party some friends were holding out there. Along the way they got a little lost, but were able to get directions by cell phone and continued making their way through the dark trees, finding the way by the beam of their flashlight. They still seemed lost, inexplicably going around in circles and passing the same clearing several times, and the witness claims that some very high strangeness would soon come for them, saying:

I joke that she better not get me killed and as we nervously laugh we hear a "nya nya nya" sound coming from behind us followed by what sounded like a cross between like a whistle of an old train and somebody blowing (it sounds stupid but almost like the whistle of Thomas the train) and we turn around thinking "what the fuck was that" and shine our flashlights on a deer standing up on its hind legs with one arm against the tree looking at us. I know this sounds stupid but just the way that it was watching us and standing there was the most unsettling thing ive seen in my life. My friend then takes off running and I'm still just standing there looking at it trying to make heads or tails of it before I start running too after Gina trying not to be left alone with this thing. Luckily for me Gina runs into a tree and I catch up with her and start yelling at her about leaving me alone when we hear another whistling sound out to the left of us and turn our flashlights to see another deer looking at us but this one is walking toward us on its hind legs but not like a person like a dog. It gets close but walks behind a tree with only it's head and neck poking out, watching us.


I have never been so scared in my life and started to cry and started to yell at Gina telling her to call the cops (like that would have done any good). At this point I honestly thought I was going to die I was just so scared and we heard another whistle sound somewhere else in the woods behind us. We heard a rustling sound in the woods and were sure that this was is and we were going to die but instead out walked a giant and I mean giant (like newfoundland size but with short hair like a lab) black dog. The dog then walked right up to us looked at us and then looked out at the deer behind the tree which then started to make a "nya nya" sound like we heard earlier but the dog just stood there looking at it not growling or barking or anything just staring. The deer then started to make a coughing sound but the dog just stared at it without making a noise before turning around and just ignoring it and walking over to us and started barking and baying. A minute later a professor who I'd taken a class with sophomore year burst through the brush and started yelling at "Baron" (his dog who had apparently run away into the woods). He was really confused to see us but saw that we were crying and offered to take us back to his house and drive us back to campus. I haven't slept since last night and have been all over the Internet trying to make sense of what I saw. I fully intend to spoil Baron rotten for saving my life.

What in the world was this thing? The witness explains that she felt that it was about to pounce on them, and what would have happened then? Would these two teenagers become another missing person statistic? Who knows? Just as bizarre is a report from poster “Ky-ja-ky,” who was out camping at Red River Gorge, Kentucky with her husband and a friend at the time. They had been there many times before, and on this evening, they did something they often enjoyed while there, which was making their way to the top of a high trail to go stargazing. They had been up this trail countless times before and knew it very well, but this evening was to be a bit more unusual. They made it to the top and lay down to do their stargazing, but almost immediately they began hearing strange noises around them, of which the witness says:

We lay down and try to stargaze but the clouds are even thicker now. It was miserably hot. We could hear voices at times and my husband kept checking for people we heard. He never saw anyone. We saw a light flash. Never saw anyone attached to it. And then we heard a bird call? But it wasn’t like a real bird noise at all. It sounded like a person making bird calls. Like rhythmic and not really natural? I was convinced we weren’t alone and hadn’t been alone but also I am the most easily spooked. I asked to leave as soon as they were ready to and they were ready right then and there. And that scared me, that they were just as afraid as me at this point.


We began going down the way we came and it felt like it was taking so long. We were going steady and quick and it was downhill but we were not making any ground it seemed. It’s hard to explain but it was so weird that at one point I even said it out loud. I said, “this feels much longer.” And they agreed with me. I kept looking behind me with the flashlight. And my husband kept looking out to the sides and my friend kept hers mostly forward.

As they made their way down that trail, they could hear all sorts of unidentifiable noises from the dark, and the husband would say that he kept catching what looked like “eyes” in the beam of the flashlight. There were also what sounded somewhat like footsteps out in the dark, and they were sure they were being followed by someone or something. They things got even scarier. The witness explains of what happened next:

And my husband just stops walking altogether and says, “what’s that,” but the question is more of like an alert and I move my hand lamp in that direction and don’t see anything at first. Then both of his lights catch a shape, and then my head lamp catches it and I move my hand lamp to center and catch it while my friend simultaneously finds it in her lights as well. All six lights shine onto and kind of reflect off of a light grey creature. It is bent in a crouching position kneeling on its right leg and starts turning towards us. It starts to slowly stand and mind is racing still. It looks human but it is too big. People mistake human shapes for what’s actually bears in the woods often but this is skinny. It is thin and big and almost white it’s so light grey and its skin resembles dolphin skin. There’s a shine to it and our lights get reflected a little when they’re on it. It gradually comes to a full standing position in front of us. Its head is long and its eyes are in a human position on the face in front and not on the side like animals but I could not see any other facial features. Just big almost empty holes or pits that were its eyes. It looked directly at us and our lights. The way it stood was intimidating, almost like when a snake raises up and flex their necks all crazy to show prey that they’re stronger and smarter. It was like it was stepping up to a fight. From crouching then turning then standing front on in front of us, the arms hung down low and the hands seemed long too. Its hands had to be by its knees? I’d guess it stood 9 feet or so and not that far in front of us. No hair at all and its head was large as well. I couldn’t process what I saw and was frozen.


Then I just feel my husband hitting me on the back and yelling, “run run run.” I start to understand we have to get away from this thing and it pivots and runs to the right. Going backwards on the trail so it could get around the barrier and onto the trail behind us. We take off running the rest of the way down the trail. Knowing that this thing just took off much faster than us and after it had crossed from behind the barrier it would be gaining on us quick. We didn’t talk at all, because when we tried it felt almost like we would get caught. We keep running as we can but some areas are so steep. It never felt like we were out of sight from this creature. As we made it to the trail beginning with the gravel, we could hear something to the side crashing down through the forest. We ran until we got to the car and then we drove as fast as we could and as soon as we got to the main road the any cleared up, and the Stars were out. When that thing looked at us I knew it was smarter and faster than us. I knew that if we hadn’t have seen it that it could have easily taken one of us and gotten away. I think the only reason it hesitated was because so many of us saw it at once and we stayed together.

This is a truly harrowing report that seems really hard to classify. What could this creature could have been? Whatever it was, it certainly seemed to be out to get them, and they are probably very lucky they escaped. Equally hard to classify is an account from Missing 411 commenter “Dreamland Orchad” who says she grew up in East Tennessee and at the time of her experience was on a trip to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park with a group of friends. They were out kinging up a ridge when she would encounter something that is really quite difficult to categorize, but which was definitely malevolent. The witness says of her truly outlandish experience:

We were hiking to see Little Duck Hawk Ridge and it's Eye of the Needle to the Northeast, and that's when I saw what I call the "transparent mind control demon." On the hike I was walking with these two girls (I thought I was a ladies man) and in the back because I was "so cool." The way up nothing really happened except I kept seeing something out of the corner of my eye, but of course nothing was there when I looked. We ate lunch at Little Duck Ridge and I couldn't eat from the sense of dread. On the way back down that's when it really started happening, the girls kept talking and I kept trying to catch this "thing" out of the corner of my eye. The dread keep building up as this thing kept popping up in the corner of my eye. "hen that's when I saw this freaking thing. It was a "transparent entity" and "a big humanoid shape," but then it flashed behind a tree. My heart rate sped up so fast my ears started ringing, and that's when I kept seeing it flashing behind all these different trees, (I say flashing because it was running at superhuman speeds) and when I stopped watching it flash around, I noticed everyone was almost out of sight around the corner.


I started panicking the ringing got "really loud" and I got confused. I started mumbling to myself and thinking to run back up the mountain, but deep down inside I knew the other way was a right way to go. I started jogging the wrong way and laughing to myself in a demonic sound, the whole time I felt fear building up and I was so confused not knowing what was going on. I was laughing and jogging the wrong way, but not able to control my body, it was so weird and scary. Then my two lovely girlfriends I guess noticed I was gone and came back for me. They said I turned around and didn't look like me, that I had black eyes. They said they had to yell at me like five times what was wrong with me, I was so scared I just said "let's run.

Was something trying to possess this young woman? What would have happened to her if her friends had to arrived? It is hard to know just how much truth any of these accounts we have looked at here even holds, but every one of them is very spooky, to say the least. What are we to make of the strange sounds or complete silence, the feelings of being watched, the sudden onset of dread or outright panic, and in some cases even bizarre, almost demonic entities? There are many more accounts such as these featuring many of the same details, so what are we dealing with? Is there something beyond our understanding out in the wild places of our world stalking and hunting us? If so what are these entities and what do they want? There is no way for us to really know, but it does open up strange new possibilities for why some people walk into the woods to never return.

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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