The wildernesses of our world have always held mystery and legend since time unremembered. These are wild places that seem to at times exist outside of our realm and typical reality, and it is easy to see why they have long drawn to them strange stories, myths, and legends. At times it seems that these remote places of our planet seem to call out to the unsuspecting, deceiving and putting out a siren call to those who would follow it to their doom. This has long been posited for cases of what I call the "almost vanished," those who seem to have been on the verge of vanishing off the face of the earth, but who somehow found their way back. Here we will look at a selection of bizarre accounts of the forest seemingly trying to draw in people for purposes we will probably never understand.
One strange account of this happening comes from a Reddit poster called “malamuteowner77,” who lives at the coastal resort town Bournemouth, on the south coast of England. She says that her godfather has a cabin that sits nestled within a tract of wooded land called “The New Forest,” and she decided to spend a few weeks there along with her malamute, Sky. On the very first day that she arrived, she decided to take some photos of the area to show her mother, and found her way to a field with horses, along with Sky at around 11 AM. It was here where she would have a strange experience, when something began to call her from the surrounding trees. She writes of what happened next:
So I’m taking photos of wild horses and I hear “Hey come here” seemingly to come to the right of me. I look and that part of the forest is deeper and i couldn’t see anything standing or hiding that way. Sky, on the other hand heard it and jerked that way on the lead. “Come closer. This way” I focused myself now, to look through the trees and long grass and there was now a simple stone path that weirdly didn’t have any grass or growth around it. You could clearly see a cobbled path.
So... sky and I started making our way down that path. I didn’t notice at the time but I could clearly hear sky whimpering and nothing else. It was like all other sound was... muted? I know I’m not making any sense typing this out and I’m sorry. It was like everything else around me, the birds, the wind and trees were just fading away and I was in some weird sort of haze. “Just a bit further” a woman’s voice, seemingly to come out of nowhere whispered to us while giggling. Sky shook me out of my trance by stopping, putting her hackles up and growling at something. I shook my head and suddenly the haze, confusion had disappeared. We were still on the path but I had a very weird sense of dread starting to creep over me. That and with sky growling just made me think ‘nope’ and we ran back to the clearing we came from.
“Come back!!!” A woman screamed at us and it seemed to follow and echo around us as we both were running back. We made it to the clearing and back to the cabin. I double locked all the doors and pulled the curtains and blinds over the windows due to the fact that I thought we were being followed and whatever, or whoever wanted us down that path so badly - would come back for us. They never did. I checked my phone straight away as I now had service and was connected to the WiFi. Multiple calls, texts and WhatsApp’s all came through at once. Tons asking where we were, did we arrive safe, my boyfriend asking why hasn’t he heard from me. We were in the woods for what seemed like an hour and mere seconds on that path. It was now 9pm and I have no recollection of the missing time we had encountered.
What was this voice, why did it want her to go down that path and what happened to her during that missing time? We will probably never know. In another rather ominous case we have Reddit user “Lewisanalog,” who had his own experience while out hiking in the Grand Tetons National Park, in northwestern Wyoming. On this occasion he was out with four friends in 2017 taking their annual road trip, along which they stopped at the Grand Tetons to stay for a couple of days. While they were there they made plans to hike along some of the less travelled trails of the area, deciding to try out a 13-mile hike called the two ocean and Emma Matilda lakes outside loop. They departed in the morning hours on a clear day, and made it to the first lake without incident, stopping there to take a break and enjoy the scenery.
As they looked around on the majestic wilderness all around them, something very bizarre began to happen, when the weather suddenly became dark and ominous, and whereas it had been clear just moments before there were now clouds and rain coming down. Oddly, this weather passed just as suddenly, leaving the sky clear again. It was all very odd, but they didn’t think much of it at the time. They continued until they came upon an anomalous trail that did not appear in their maps and they decided to check it out. This is where things would get very strange indeed. The witness says:
After a few more miles, the trail became extremely narrow, approximately one person wide and the forest on either side became thick, like the thickest forest you’ve ever seen. I remember remarking it looked like blair witch country and the forest almost seemed to consume the trail. It’s at this point walking along the trail that myself and one friend who was in the front of the pack distinctly heard a clear, loud and audible woman’s voice. It sounded as if a woman was maybe 15 meters ahead of us around the bend and speaking to someone. We continued walking and when we got around the bend were stunned to see nothing. The hairs on the back of my neck immediately stood up and we looked at each other in shock and reiterated we definitely heard a woman.
The other three guys then approached and asked us if we were okay as we were pale and we told them what we had heard. They then told us they too had heard a woman as they approached and they though the two of us who were ahead had been talking to a fellow hiker, we all looked around frantically but the forest had turned silent. There was no wind and everything seemed to be going slowly, the weird thing was there was one very tall tree about 50 meters from us which was swaying from side to side but as I said there was no wind and the forest was silent, it wasn’t just moving slightly but as it it was caught in a large gust. The clouds had blown back over and were an ominous grey. We all kinda looked at each other and after calling out a few times to make sure there wasn’t an injured hiker around began hiking relatively fast away from the spot and over the next 8ish miles saw one other person near the trailhead and a bear but that was the only part of the trail where we all felt uncomfortable. We talked about it later that night after getting back to camp and couldn’t make any sense of what we had heard. To this day it still stumps me and gives me goosebumps.
The witness goes on to speculate that they had perhaps come very close to vanishing like many others in National Parks, and wonders if there was a cluster of such disappearances in the area at the time. Mysterious voices in the woods figure in to a lot of these bizarre cases, and we next come to an account by Reddit user “GCM801719.” At the time he says he had gone out on a short hike in the Green Mountain National Forest in Vermont, around the base of Mount Glastonbury, looking to take a look at the remains of an old ghost town and railroad bed there from the 19th Century. She was not alone at the time, bringing along his dog, Beebe, and when they stopped along a logging road to take the trail in, the weather was sunny and clear. As they hiked along, he says that he began to hear an eerie whistling sound that immediately had his dog agitated and pulling at the leash in an effort to run off into the trees. He had the distinct impression that the whistle was meant to draw the dog away from him, but after a few minutes there were no more sounds and he tried to put the odd incident out of his head and continue the hike. However, the weirdness was just beginning. He says of what happened next:
Not 10 steps later I heard a woman’s voice from the other side of the trail. “Hello?”, “Come here.”, “We are just off the trail.” Then I heard what sounded like the playful laughter of another woman. The tone of the calls was playful almost seductive. “Hello, come down here, what’s your name?” I was curious and even a little intrigued to check it out, the voice was very pleasant, but after a split second, I stopped myself from moving. Looking to the left where the voices were coming from I could almost see a path through the trees, down the ridge, a perfectly straight line. There was no noise, not even the rustling of leaves or chirping of birds. I started to feel lightheaded and confused. Beebe barked again and I snapped out of it. A feeling of complete dread then overtook me, I reached into my pocket and pulled the Ruger LC9 I had in a pocket holster out and held the pistol to my side and clicked the safety off.
As soon as I did that, I began to hear things again, leaves rustling sounds of birds tweeting. Looking to the left again the path that had just been there was gone. After that, I decided to end my hike and we booked it back to the car without incident. The strangest thing was yet to come. When I got back to my car and drove off the mountain and had cell phone service again my phone had been blown up with missed messages from my girlfriend and brother asking where I was and why I was not back yet. I checked the time on my phone is was 4 pm, I had started my hike around 8 am, I’d been gone for eight hours and could only account for a couple of hours of the time. To this day I have no explanation of what happened. I don’t hike anymore either and took up Golf.
What was this trying to lure him into the woods, and what would have happened if he had followed it further? Who knows? These cases don’t always involve voices, but they almost always involve some irresistible force that seems to be pulling people deeper into the woods. From AskReddit there is an account from a witness who says that this happened when he was a kid and out on a camping trip with his parents along with another family. At the time of his strange experience, he had been out playing with some other kids near the campground, but got into an argument with another boy and decided to walk back by himself. He took a u-shaped road that went around the campground and had woods on the other side. He explains the series of events that would then play out:
At the very center of the u is a park. Perfect I think I’ll just sit on the swings until I think enough time has passed to go back. As I’m on the swings I notice a path directly across from me. I get up and start walking along this dirt path. There are reeds on either side of me and I have my hands stretched out as I walk dead center of this path. My hands can just barely touch these reeds unless I move closer to one side. I walk for about 10 minutes maybe and I get to this pond. Crystal clear water and I have this urge to drink it. It looks so refreshing. I kneel down and suddenly the hairs on the back of my neck go straight up. It was like I snapped back into myself. What am I doing? Why am I about to drink pond water? Why did I walk down this path? I start feeling really uneasy so I turn around and start walking the same way I came.
Let my clarify. There was only one path. Straight. I made no turns, I didn’t walk around this pond. I simply walked to the end of the path got freaked out about something and turned around. Suddenly all types of bugs were now around. I kept walking and I notice the dirt path is getting more and more narrow. The reeds and tall grass are now at my arms and there’s a constant buzzing feeling n my ears from these bugs. The path gets so narrow that I have to walk sideways to avoid the reeds. I yell out help and I hear a voice ask if I’m ok. I reply I’m lost and a woman says just walk straight honey I see you. I see nothing it’s just tall grass and reeds. I walk a few feet and see the road.
I am scratched from head to toe and there’s a woman by the playground asking what happened. She takes a Kleenex out of her pocketbook and starts wiping some of the scratches and I tell her what happened. I look behind me and see no path. I’m at the same park. I’m in front of the swing I was just on. The woman looks at me and tells me that I shouldn’t even think about it and to just forget it happened because I’m fine now. But she really emphasized not to talk about it. I’ve always been on the fence about it. I’m sure there was one path in and one path out. The bugs could of steered me off course. Maybe me being paranoid? Or...something more sinister that nearly trapped me for good.
What was going on here? What was this irresistible force luring the witness in? In another story by a poster called “JoshAldanaMusic417,” it seems as if some sort of entity was trying to drawn him away. He says that this happened during a hike he had with his father at Mt. Shasta, in Northern California when he was just a kid. The hike started off normally enough, but they would encounter some oddities along the way, such as a group of boulders arranged in a circle that they had never noticed there before. They then passed by a group of other hikers who were headed down the steep incline, but when they looked back he says the hikers were way farther down the trail than they should have been in such a short amount of time. It was a little disconcerting, but they just sort of shrugged their shoulders and continued on, and this is where it takes a sharp turn from the eerie into the bizarre. The witness says:
As we reached the top of the cliff, there was another strange rock arrangement that was off to the side of the Trail. This time, there were far more rocks than before and they were now arranged in rows, almost like gravestones. We continued on the trail and reached another sort of incline with a switchback to reach the top of another cliff. We reached a point where we would need climbing gear to continue, so we decided to head back.
When we turned around, I saw a man standing among the rocks, staring at us. He was wearing a button up shirt, cargo shorts and a wide brimmed straw hat. He was at a distance where I should’ve been able to make out his facial features... but it was almost as if he had none. Like his face was just flesh and skin. I pointed him out to my dad, and then the man quickly ducked down behind a boulder, and was peering out at us over the top of the boulder. It seemed almost playful, like a child trying to hide. For a few moments, I was out of it and I have no recollection of what was going on. According to my dad, I just started walking towards the man in the hat. My dad was calling to me “Joshua! Josh what are you doing?! Where are you going?!”. And then I came to. I was standing right at the edge of a cliff. It was a huge drop. Enough to kill me or seriously injure me. My dad grabbed me and pulled me back to the trail. He told me to stay put, and my dad went down to the boulders to search for the man. But, he wasn’t there. There was nowhere for him to go except up or down the trail. It didn’t make any sense, he just disappeared.
I have no idea what was going on on that trail, and I have no explanation for it. I’ve told this many times to family and friends, and no one has an explanation. I’ve done research and found similar stories about encounters with a man with no facial features wearing a hat. I’ve also read that the Native American tribes from the area viewed Mt Shasta as a holy site. They believe it could act as a portal to other dimensions, and that it is guarded by spirits who would potentially harm anyone who tried to go up the volcano.
Portals and strange entities, or something else? In other cases still, it seems like the forest is actively trying to keep people from leaving. From the Missing 411 forum we have a poster called “BappoTheMighty,” who said that this happened when he was a teenager at a camp. At one point during the trip he went off into the woods with two girls named Amy and Harriet exploring the area, and while nothing particularly unusual happened when they were out there, things took a sinister turn when they decided to head back to camp. The witness explains what happened thusly:
That's when the initial panic set in. The trees had almost unnaturally knitted themselves together in such a way that it seemed our path was nonexistent in the first place. Like it had just vanished. We looked around 360 degrees and now everything looked exactly the same. Trees we could've sworn were different from one another appeared as all copies of the same tree. We kept walking in what we thought to be the correct direction, whilst shouting out for help, and eventually came to a concrete path, almost like a road, but very thin, separating the forest, splitting it in to two. We didn't follow the road as it went in the wrong 'direction' to our campsite.
On the other side of the path was more forest, however nearby was an abandoned shack, likely used for storage or whatever else. We had no idea anything like this was out here in these woods, so we just kept walking. We eventually came to a road we didn't recognize. A woman wearing a pink and purple 'regatta outdoors' coat walked past and we frantically asked her for the direction of our campsite, as by now, according to our watches and Harriet's phone, we'd been walking for an hour and a half. She said shed never seen us before but she said there's another campsite in 'that direction'. We followed her advice and eventually came back to our campsite.
The leader 'Ian' could see all three of us were shaken up and he stated confused that 'wed only been gone 25 minutes, and that our free time was still going on'. To this day this baffles all three of us, as our free time was 40 minutes long, and our watches and phones had said wed been gone for hours. The forest we were lost in felt crushing and claustrophobic, like we'd entered an area that the concept of time didn't apply to. I believe in the paranormal, however this was so unlike anything I've heard or experienced before. It literally was like wed been in a time vortex or something, and that hours in the forest were only minutes in the rest of the world. The feeling was very strange and it stuck with me for the rest of the camp.
What happened to these people? There is probably no pat answer that can explain all of it, and it likely encompasses a variety of phenomena. What we can be sure of is that it sometimes seems that the woods is an ominous, sinister, even malevolent and malicious place that through whatever strange forces seems to want to pull people in and keep them, using an arsenal of lures and strange powers. Is this ghosts, fairies, some sort of interdimensional phenomena, or just overactive imaginations and misunderstandings? It is hard to know, but looking through accounts such as these, it seems that it would be wise to keep a look out around you the next time you are out in the forest.