People tend to go camping and hiking to escape into nature—but sometimes, they end up walking into a living nightmare. Beneath the calm serenity of the woods, there can lie a dark and scary side. Mysterious voices in the dark. The sound of footsteps outside your tent. Macabre souvenirs. The feeling of being watched. These Redditors came together to share their own horrifying experiences of camping and hiking gone wrong. After reading these real-life stories, we never want to go into the woods again.
1. Breath of the Wild
Breathing…just heavy breathing right outside my tent loud enough to wake me up. Very intense clear breathing. Middle of the night, no animal sounds, no grunting, no foot-steps, just breathing from something large. I loaded my shotgun and pointed it in the direction it was coming from and waited for what seemed like a lifetime—probably two or three minutes—until it just stopped.
I did not sleep for the rest of the night and I didn’t go out until the morning. No signs of any animals or people in my camp, no footprints, nothing disturbed. Still to this day I don’t know what it was. As an experienced hunter who has chased away bears from my camp, I have never been so scared.
2. The Walking Dog
I was at a rest stop somewhere in Nebraska or South Dakota along I-29 and I couldn’t sleep so I was kind of roaming around, checking out the rest area ground. Behind the facilities were some woods. A black lab-looking dog came out and sat down, and watched me. I kept my distance and it would reposition when I paced to keep me in front of it.
I finished my smoke and pulled out my phone, and the dog stands straight the heck up on its hind legs like a person and walks backward into the woods. I’m sure I was just wrong and it wasn’t a dog, but I went right back to the car and didn’t sleep until we were on the road again.
3. The Loyal Lab
Hiking alone in Washington during late fall so it’s cold and there were few people on the trail. I’m halfway up a steep, switch-backed climb and laying down to take a break when two guys come along descending the trail. I wave and they wave back. As they get close one of them suddenly says, “Oh, you’re alone!” and then smiles at his friend.
I get a little freaked out and I guess my dog sensed it because she stood up and stared sternly at them. She’s an 80lb. black lab and full of love, but can look very intimidating. The guys saw her and completely changed and quickly hurried on their way. I’m not sure if they were going to do something creepy, but I picked a much less obvious campsite that night.
4. The Cremation
I was hiking deep into a National Forest and I found a campfire in the middle of nowhere at night. Not weird or uncommon by any means, people tend to pop up where you least expect them outdoors. But upon further examination, in the fire there was a US army uniform and what seemed to be some of their possessions. I tried to pull out the wallet with their military ID, but It was pretty much a glob or plastic.
Something just felt unnerving about the situation.
5. A Warm and Quiet Place
Not creepy like the rest of these stories, but I woke in the middle of the night thinking I somehow got rain or water of sorts in my ear. When I tilt my head to get it out, something freaking MOVES in my ear canal. Turns out the “water” was blood. 20 painful minutes later, a darn mini cockroach crawls out of my ear. For the next few years, I had to sleep with earplugs every time we went camping.
6. The Gunshot
I was out camping one night by myself and started hearing voices. I was playing music and it was around two in the morning. My grandma’s house was about two miles down the river and I thought it might have been my grandpa, so I turned off my music so I could yell back, but I heard a dog and my grandma or grandpa don’t have dogs. Then I heard someone say, “The noise was this way!”
This genuinely freaked me out, so I climbed one of the pine trees and sat up there for about five or six minutes. Later I saw a flashlight in the distance and two people walking up. They were both men, and there was I believe a husky-German hybrid with them. They ransacked my camp and I swear they should’ve noticed me because they shined the lights around and went right over me.
After they left, I started to walk home and I heard two loud bangs, which sounded like a rifle, so I booked it. When I got home, I stood on the porch for a second and saw their lights at the edge of the woods. I can assure you I will never camp alone again. It wasn’t even hunting season so they shouldn’t have even been out with a gun and if they were, it should have been at least a handgun and not a rifle.
But I’m still not sure what kind of gun it was. I hate dark forests now though, and I got really bad paranoia from this.
7. If You Can’t Handle the Heat, Go Back to the Kitchen
I was on an overnight hike in a small wooded valley with lots of smaller connecting valleys coming. I just crested one hill to find out that a grass fire that I thought was small was huge and, even worse, headed my way. I ended up having to run. As I came to the edge, it was about a 100-foot drop, so I was running parallel with the fire looking for a safe way to get down. I eventually got to a slope I could slide down and escape.
Once I got to the bottom, I found out the tarp I was carrying under my pack was actually melted a bit on one side. I left and did not spend the night.
8. The Stake Thief
When I was a kid in Boy Scouts, we would stay up then go to sleep when we were bored. But one time when we did this in the middle of the night, we heard footsteps. So, we came out of the tents to see what happened. Nobody was there. We told the supervisors that said probably nothing. When we woke up in the morning, one of the tent stakes were stolen off of all of the tents.
It was nothing big, but someone was there following us. It creeps me out to this day.
9. Under the Hammock
I’m sleeping in my hammock in the woods off the Appalachian Trail somewhere, and am woken up by something walking very quietly under me. It was tall enough to lift my feet up as it went under me, which is terrifying to wake up to in the middle of the night. Probably a deer, but scared the crap out of me.
10. Forest Rescue
I was riding my horse down a trail. Heard a noise; tink-tink, like glass. I looked down and saw a mouse in a glass bottle; it couldn’t get out. I stopped, tipped the bottle and let the little one go. Later on, I was riding my horse down a trail and heard a dog whine…real quiet…I whistled and it started barking. I rode that way and found the dog; it was a German shorthair hunting dog who had tried to get out of a creek and had gotten his collar hung up in a root.
Goodness knows how long he was there, he was skinny. On his last legs if you know what I mean. He had a collar with his owner’s info engraved; I called them and they were speechless. That dog had been missing for three weeks. He surely was in the water that long. Yes, the dog survived. Life is tough. It was a hot summer; the dog was very physically fit and well taken care of.
If he hadn’t been, who knows what would’ve happened.
11. Don’t Feed the Animals
I was solo camping on the Chatanooga river. It was maybe midnight when I felt my hammock start to shake violently. I poke my head out and it’s a freaking raccoon trying to steal my boots. This was my first-time solo camping and I nearly pooped a hole through my pants.
And it didn’t end there. Those little gremlins tormented me all night long. Constantly trying to steal my stuff. The moral to the story, don’t feed the animals people.
12. Nature’s Out There Trying to Kill Us
I went camping in Ginnie Springs in Florida about 10 years ago. Sometime at night, I heard that sound you hear in movies of a huge tree falling. Didn’t think anything of it. About 10 minutes later, I started hearing lots of people talking outside my tent, so I got out—and discovered the dark truth. The tree fell on someone’s tent and killed them. A helicopter had to come and airlift them out.
13. Midnight Visitor
It was weird as heck. My brother, roommate, and I went camping out of the blue and got woken up in the middle of the night by some guy banging around and screaming. They woke me up and we listened as he approached our tent, so my brother cocked his pistol and said “We’re sleeping, go away.” A few minutes later, the cops come and tell him to drop the pole he had. He had a pole!?
14. Savior Dogs
When I was a kid, around eight or nine, my Mom, Grandma, brothers and I went camping at a small camping site about two hours from the town we lived in. We went there a lot and even had a particular campsite we had slowly built up over the years. On this particular trip, we had my Aunt and Uncle’s dogs with us since they were doing military tours.
They were both well-trained bird dogs, but usually really calm and friendly. The first night on this particular trip, Star starts growling in the tent at about 1 in the morning. My Mom, thinking something is outside, arms herself and investigates with the dogs. As she gets out of the tent, Star and Ariel would absolutely not let her move to the other edge of the campsite.
They both get into attack position while herding my Mom towards the car. This is while also keeping themselves in front of the tent. By this point, we are all up with a group of kids under 10 freaking out. For a reason she can’t even explain today, my Mother packs up camp and gets us all into the car to head home. We thought we were safe—but we weren’t.
After about ten minutes out of the campsite, a car starts following us and the dogs get in the back and just growl. By this point, everyone was in borderline panic mode and my brothers were crying the entire car ride home. As the town comes into view, you have to cross a huge bridge to drive in. The car was still following us.
As a kid, you make up stories to tell yourself that nothing is wrong and the car behind you is just full of scared people, too. Yet as we start across the bridge, the car stops and just turns around, speeding back the way we came. We stopped at a gas station and everyone was in near meltdown mode. Camping is no longer my thing.
15. Imagine the Conversations
In the early 90s, I went camping with my girl scout troop. Turns out, the Grateful Dead were playing nearby and we ended up camping with a bunch of deadheads. We all shared a common bathroom. We were exposed to lots of new things that weekend.
16. Keep on Trucking
I was camping in a valley by myself with no cell service. I stayed late on a trail and ran into a nice local dude as it was getting dark. He showed me a local camping spot close to the road and the river, but camouflaged. I had a fire, drank beer, and listened to my friend’s comedy podcast. I was loud and visible. I had no idea what was coming next.
Because it was dark already, I decided to sleep in the back of my truck under my topper next to all of my gear as opposed to setting up my tent. The next morning I made a fire, cracked a beer, and started making breakfast. Then I notice that there is a man at the edge of my camp. He comes closer, but never looks directly at me.
This dude looks homeless. He has a long, ratty beard and has at least a hundred plastic grocery bags tied all over his clothes. I comment about how nice the day is. No response from him. I offer him breakfast. Nothing. He sort of paces around the perimeter of my camp. I offer him a beer. But he just turns around.
The dude is just standing there, back to me, wandering around. I’m realizing that there isn’t going to be any good happenings. I had my bear spray and buck knife super close. I give him an ultimatum, “Man, you are either going to acknowledge me or leave immediately!” He ignores me. I grab the bear mace and walk a few steps towards him.
He sulked away and I threw my stuff in my truck and left that place right quick. I wonder if he had watched me during the night, and I thank my laziness for staying in my truck instead of a tent.
17. It’s Hard out There for a Mole
It was 2 AM, pitch dark, low fire. We heard rustling in the woods. We all had our flashlights pan out, when all of a sudden a mole comes running towards us and INTO the fire. Like, right into it. We could hear it sizzling while we all were screaming! The next day, the charred body was buried with a proper funeral. Sorry, you crazy dude.
18. Oh Dear
I went camping with my friends back in high school. We hiked way out into the woods and collapsed, exhausted, into our tents. Middle of the night, I hear something outside my tent. Then another something, and another, all around the tent. I had an ominous idea of what it was. It sounded so much to me like something stalking up to our tent and surrounding it.
I gathered my courage and looked out, shining my flashlight into the pitch-black darkness. All I could see in the dark was shining eyes looking back at me. Not little eyes or eyes close to the ground, but almost man height and large. Turned out it was a herd of deer.
19. “Lucky” Encounter
My wife and I were camping alone in a kind of remote area, but there were little campsites made by the parks department that were flat and clear. We found a great-looking spot, but it was right on a lake, which I thought we should avoid. At the same time, we were beginner backpackers and figured the parks department wouldn’t make a spot there if it wasn’t safe. We were so wrong.
I was feeling a little beat so I took a short nap while my wife read a book. When I woke up, she told me that somebody was walking around in our campsite. I looked around but didn’t see anything. There were some other campsites maybe 500 feet away so I figured it was another camper checking the place out. Oh no, not at all.
Late that night, after we’d gone to bed for the night, it was drizzling a little rain and I was sort of half asleep. Then I realized that if I listened really closely, I could hear someone walking around our campsite, very, very quietly. I didn’t have a knife or any sort of weapon, and I started freaking out. I carefully woke my wife up to get her ready and we listened together.
Then suddenly we heard it, it sounded like a cat cleaning itself. Then more walking around in circles around the tent. Then the sound of a large cat lapping up water just feet from our tent. Then walking back to the tent, immediately beside me. I heard it flop down on the ground. Cat owners know how a relaxed cat flops over. It was like that but WAY bigger.
I was trying to control my breathing as carefully as I could so it wouldn’t hear me, but I was so panicked it was hard to do. It hung around for what seemed like a long time. I really had to pee, but I wasn’t ready to move or breathe, let alone go out there. The scariest part is that the whole time, it was so quiet that if you didn’t concentrate, you couldn’t be sure that it was even there.
Eventually, I was sure I hadn’t heard it in a long time, so I very cautiously poked my head out. Didn’t see anything (it was pitch black), did my business, went back to bed. The next morning, we get up and there are massive paw prints in our campsite. Looks just like a cat’s paw print, but more like eight inches across.
Later, after getting home, I called the park ranger to let them know in case they’re monitoring encounters with dangerous animals or something. They told me it must have been a mountain lion, and how lucky I was to have an encounter with one (!!). When I think about my wife telling me that someone was in our campsite around 12 hours earlier, it creeps me right out to think that we might have been stalked by a mountain lion for some time.
20. Silly, Clumsy Bear
My parents’ story, not mine. They were on a canoe trip way up in nowhere, Saskatchewan, far from any semblance of civilization. One morning, they hear a rustling outside their tent. Still half asleep, my dad sits up and tries to figure out what is going on. The noise is loud, and very close. Before he can collect himself enough to go investigate, the worst happens.
His whole side of the tent collapses in on top of him. The weight lifted quickly. Now entirely awake, my parents scrambled to open the tent flap and figure out what was going on. About ten feet away was a spooked black bear, staring confused and concerned at the tent. After being yelled at a bit, it ran off. We figure it had been foraging in the bushes right behind the tent and lost its balance. So my dad can truthfully say he has been sat on by a bear.
21. Oh Deer!
There’s an old abandoned road behind my house that winds down the mountain beside the ski hills. It was abandoned because no one lived on it and it was costing the town too much money to maintain it, but it’s a cool spot to go hiking now. One day I was hiking down towards the river at the bottom of the road. It was fall, so all the leaves were gone, and it was very bright in the woods. I came around a corner to a section of the road that was washed out, so I was focusing more on my footing than my surroundings. That’s when something caught my eye.
I look up, and there’s a cougar frozen in fear about 10 feet away from me. It was probably thinking the same thing I was. “Holy moly, now what do I do?” So, we just sit there staring at each other for a minute or two when suddenly a stick cracks behind me, which makes me jump which scares the cougar. The thing scrambled to turn around and run just like a house cat, quickly disappearing into the trees.
I turned around to see what made the noise and it’s a deer. A freaking deer scared off a cougar by just stepping on a stick. Granted if I wasn’t there to put the cougar on edge already, that deer probably would have died. Similarly, if that deer hadn’t been there, the situation may not have ended as well for me, so we all survived based on sheer luck.
22. Ungored and Terrified
We like to hike 3-5 miles down a trailhead in deep Georgia. One night, the temperature dropped into the low 20s, which is really rare for mid-fall. We got a solid fire going, and the heat mixed with a full belly put us all to sleep. I woke up to my buddy tapping my foot with a stick. I looked up at him and he nodded toward the fire. When I saw it, my jaw dropped.
There were two wild boar kicking up dirt around the dying fire. We didn’t have any sort of weaponry except a hand axe that was out of our reach. My friend and I laid there, completely silent, watching these two for about an hour till the fire died completely down and they moved on. If you don’t know, wild boars in Georgia are easily 150 pounds, pissed all the time, and prone to gore literally anything. We were reaaaally lucky.
23. We All Have Our Own Raccoon Conspiracies
My time in the Army meant I spent a ton of time in the woods of upstate NY. I remember many nights waking up to things reaching into my pockets and pulling things from my kit. I’d wake up to a raccoon pillaging my things, literally unzipping pouches and such. I still swear to this day they were organized, rallied behind this giant raccoon jerk who would sit outside and keep guard and coordinate them.
24. Man’s Best Friend is No Substitute for Google Maps
I was probably four years old in the dead of winter at my super rural childhood home. My dog, a large German shepherd, wandered off and I trusted him enough to follow him. My mom didn’t see me leave the yard, I think she was cooking or something. That day I learned an important lesson: do not bank on your dog being a good hiking guide.
Once we got well out of sight, he stopped being in leader mode and went into protect mode. He just stuck with me and wouldn’t take me out of the woods. I was too young to know to follow my footprints back or anything, and it was dangerously cold. I don’t know how much time had passed but my mom ended up calling emergency services. Cops and firefighters came out looking for me, and my dog almost mauled a cop that got too close to me.
It wasn’t scary at the time, but looking back, I could have easily died in those woods.
25. Pony up
My family went camping every summer when I was growing up. We usually bounced between Virginia Beach, Assateague, and this god awful place called Westmoreland. One trip we were in Assateague, near the beach, and we had two tents set up in different parts of the site. Some time in the middle of the night my mom woke up, which woke me.
She was sitting up straight but completely still, and I looked over at what she was staring at. In the moonlight there was the silhouette of what looked like an old woman looking into our tent. Long wiry hair and everything. I was young, so it terrified me, and I started asking my mom what that was and who was outside.
Once I made noise, it spooked the “old woman” and she took off, and that’s when we realized she was actually one of the feral ponies that live on the island. We had set up that particular tent on one of their trails, and they were going down to the beach.
26. Taste the Rainbow
The creepiest was camping with my best friend. We were in a semi-remote camping area. Driveable usually to get to it, but definitely only with a 4×4. It was a semi-maintained camping area. There were a couple of fire pits, a few rotten picnic tables, and a run down to the outhouse. Parks checked this place once a year or so.
So we get there and start setting up when buddy wanders over to the outhouse and opens the door. He stands there for a second or two, closes the door, and goes to the second one. He goes in and comes out a few minutes later. He comes back to me and says “Go check out that first one.” I assume someone defecated on the floor or an animal got stuck in there and died or something. It was even weirder.
Three full backpacks. And I am talking big bags. Like, the bag I have that size I use for week-long trips. So we are nosy, and we open them up. Two are full of good-quality gear, nothing unusual. But the third? The third is full of skittles. Bulk bags. Small bags. Regular. Tropical. Sour. Every flavor and size of bag you can imagine. Just full of freaking skittles.
We camped for four days. Never saw a soul. Bags still there when we left. Who left all that gear? Why did one person pack 80 liters of skittles? Don’t know. But it was weird.
27. Humans Like to Sniff Stuff Too
I went on a group camping trip in the middle of nowhere Arizona, only to awake and hear something sniffing at the outside of our tent. My immediate reaction was that it was likely a bear or some animal that came across our site. I thought maybe my friends didn’t tie up the garbage. Seconds later, I can hear the sniffing go to the tent next to ours.
Everyone in my tent holds hands quietly to acknowledge that we are all awake and aware of what’s happening outside. Moments later, a friend in another tent popped out and started to scream and make noise, hoping it would scare off whatever animal was in our site. Turns out, it wasn’t an animal at all, it was something else entirely.
It was some guy who had gone through our coolers and also decided it’d be okay to sniff our tents. Our friend chased him off and we immediately packed our stuff and left.
28. Don’t Make Waves
A buddy and I were walking along the edge of a small lake one night. As we walked around a corner on the path, we hear a massive splash. We see the tail end of the ripples but nothing or no one ever surfaced. The splash sounded like it was made by something person sized or a large rock. There were no other people around who could have thrown something in. And most animals, like birds or reptiles, will enter the water silently. To this day, we have no idea what caused that splash.
29. Not Dressed for This
First time camping alone. A shirtless guy with no gear passes by my camp at 8pm and 9pm. Yup. Twice. It’s about 10 miles just to get to a road on either path. So, he went back and forth in the middle of the woods. I have never packed up an entire campsite by myself and left so quickly before. I’m a grown man and I was absolutely freaked out.
30. A Most Shocking Lesson in Boundaries
I was hiking with my dad as a kid and saw some cute horses that I wanted to go pet. I walked up a grassy bank to the horses’ fence, reached over and… POP! I heard an incredibly loud popping sound. At that moment, the horses stood up on their hind legs and bolted. At the same time, I felt like someone punched me seriously hard in the shoulder.
The force knocked me backwards down the bank. Needless to say, my Dad was just as spooked as me. He thought I had been shot! The only explanation was that I was hit by a ghost. We came to the conclusion later that day that I must have touched an electric fence.
31. Dogs Always Know
My dog absolutely lost it on a nice hike. Like, she was scared for her life, and would have run out into the woods had she not been on a leash. Lucky that she didn’t pull me over and run away anyway. My mom and I think we know what happened. We are pretty sure there must have been a mountain lion stalking us, and the dog could smell it.
Scary as heck, because we didn’t see anything, and if it had been one of us alone, who knows what would have happened.
32. Stranger in the Night…
I live in a rural town surrounded by mountains and forests, so camping is almost a weekly event, even in winter. The one I can’t shake is when me and a friend broke off from our group of other 16-19-year-olds to camp by a better fishing spot about a mile away. We only brought one tent for the group, so we built a lean-to against a large boulder in a clearing.
I couldn’t sleep because I had an eerie feeling. The feeling something was watching us. I assumed it was a mountain lion, which isn’t that big of deal considering their behavior, so I threw some more logs on the fire. I looked up from the fire, and under the light of a full moon, there was a man standing at the edge of the clearing about 80 yards away.
I was frozen and couldn’t take my eyes off him while he assumedly stared back. He walked off in the opposite direction after about a minute or two. I doubt he had any ill intentions, but I sat there holding my friend’s 357 the whole night.
33. Locked and Loaded
I was out walking around the bush hunting for upland birds. I was walking through a bit of a valley as a shortcut when I came across a guy standing on the trail with an AR-15 at the ready position. Instantly, all the hairs on the back of my neck stood up. I instinctively knew this wasn’t a place I wanted to be, but I tried my best to stay calm. It did not go well.
“Hey, just out bird hunting, how are you doing?” “Fine…long pause…I’m hunting deer.” Deer season wasn’t open, AR-15s are not legal for deer, and he wasn’t dressed for deer hunting. As a matter of fact, he looked homeless, hadn’t changed his clothes or bathed or shaved in several days obviously, and looked emaciated. He was utterly terrifying.
“Do you know the best way for me to go to find some birds?” “Well…I imagine you might find some back the way you came.” His voice got noticeably sharper with the “back the way you came,” and I obviously took the hint. I don’t know if there was a drug lab or what just down the trail, but I was certainly happy to leave. I reported the incident to the sheriff the next day, but I don’t know that anything ever came of it.
34. Turn Back
I was canoe camping with a friend in Michigan. We camped at a fire trail and saw some guys in a Jeep and Amish people in a wagon, but nothing after dark. We were near the river bank, so we thought people would come by later. Around midnight, I hear a car coming down the fire lane, stopping, backing up, pulling forward, backing up, pulling forward, backing up.
This goes on for like five minutes at a time and they keep getting closer. Eventually, they’re at the area right above us, pulling forward, backing up, pulling forward, backing up, and I can see their lights shining. My friend is still asleep, but I try to shake her leg to wake her up. Then they drive down to the river bank, pulling forward, backing up until they are facing our tent, headlights shining.
I really didn’t want to confront them, as we were two girls alone without weapons, but I leaned over my passed-out friend and unzipped the tent. It was two guys in a pickup truck. They saw me and backed up, pulled forward, and continued their weird truck dance all the way back out of earshot—the whole time pulling forward, backing up, pulling forward, backing up. It will haunt me for the rest of my days.
What did they want, what were they doing, why did seeing me peek out of the tent turn them around?
35. A Mutt from Out of This World
One night, I was driving up a local road called Spook Hill Road and telling my girlfriend why it’s called Spook Hill Road. I was making up some silly ghost story as I went along, trying to impress her. But, as I pull up to the top of the hill, I see this glowing woman with a six-foot-tall white German shepherd. They’re not walking. It’s more like they’re gliding across the road. My girlfriend didn’t see a thing.
A year later, I was talking with some older people in the town. They told me about a ghost lady and her giant ghost dog. Where do these two haunt? Spook Hill Road. Seriously creepy.
36. Milking This Scare for All Its Worth
Every year, I went to a summer camp where we spent one night in a cow pasture. One morning, we woke up to a lot of yelling and screaming. The owner forgot we were coming and had let cows into the field. Two of our group were probably scarred for life, because a cow had managed to knock down their tent. They woke up to her standing over their heads.
37. The Mane Point
One of my boots came untied, so I knelt down to retie it. I took a quick glance behind me as I was standing up. There was a mountain lion creeping across the trail about 50 feet back.
38. This Guy Is a Legend
My uncle likes to ride dirt bikes in the desert with friends. One morning after they woke up, my uncle went outside the trailer to start the generator and saw some guy sitting in one of the folding chairs they brought. The fire they had put out last night was now smoldering, and when my uncle looked around, he didn’t see any vehicle the guy could have ridden in on.
So he woke up the other guys and they woke the dude up. When the stranger looked up, he asked them a strange question. He asked if he could get a ride back to the camp he was staying at. One of them agreed, and he and my uncle drove him three miles to another campsite. They got there and it all started to make disturbing sense.
There were state troopers there. It turns out he had been drinking super hard and then took a golf cart and drove off into the night. Midway through, he ran out of gas, so he just got off and walked to my uncle’s trailer.
39. Thunder and Lightning, Oh My!
I used to go backpacking all the time in the mountains. I have some good stories, but hands down the scariest thing I’ve ever encountered is lightning. First real experience was at Philmont in New Mexico. Great backpacking area, lots of fun if you’re a scout. Not fun when it storms. My group was eating dinner one night when lightning struck a tree about 50 feet from us.
It was unexpected, and the sun was still shining through. It just shredded the tree and all of us jumped. Dinner ended up in the dirt. We had a couple other close experiences during those two weeks, but that was the closest.
Second and most terrifying experience was when we were in King’s Canyon. At about 2 am, I was awoken by a flash of light so bright I swear I could see the tent through my eyelids. Before I could even think, the thunder roared so loudly I thought the Earth was tearing itself apart. It’s hard to accurately describe the sheer power and sound that comes from being right next to a lightning strike.
The night didn’t end there, either. We were directly under the storm and the lightning just kept coming. The thunder never ceased to roll and the rain was torrential. The lightning was so constant, you could almost see through the walls of the tent into the forest around us. It was daylight out there. I thought I was going to die that night.
40. Cow Creep
I once had to pee and a rogue cow that was roaming the woods stared at me dead in the eyes while I was squatting. It was pretty disturbing and I’m pretty sure it went and told all of its cow friends.
41. A Cry for Help
I work as a counselor at a summer camp in southern California. The place is very out in the woods, so we get all sorts of animals wandering through, from deer and foxes, coyotes howling in the distance, to a mountain lion that’s been spotted in the area. But there’s something else. The camp also occasionally has a haunted vibe.
There are a couple creepy and weird spots, some things in the area that we think show the place has been inhabited in the past, ghost stories, etc. One night after putting my kids to bed, I was standing outside our cabin talking to another counselor when my friend Sadie comes running by with her entire teenage girls’ cabin, maybe 12 of them.
They were all dressed in black and freaking the heck out. She screams at me that she thought they heard a ghost and once her kids were asleep, she’d meet me back here to explain and investigate. Sadie is normally the level-headed type and does not freak out easily, so this really caught my attention. She meets me back by my cabin maybe 30 minutes later and explains what was going on.
She took her campers on a night hike, had them all dress up in black and pretend to be ninjas. All was fun until on their way back, they passed a particularly dark part of the trail. They heard off in the distance, just beyond the treeline, what sounded like a faint “help!” from a small child. But that was just the beginning of the nightmare.
Each time they heard it, it got more and more distorted until it no longer sounded human. Even so, it still sounded like a child yelling “help” in the distance. Naturally, they freaked right out and ran. Me and Sadie decide to be good counselors and go investigate the sound of a small child yelling “help.” As we walk over to the area of the trail, we hear it.
It didn’t sound like a small child anymore. It sounded like a demon screeching out its best impression of a child, and it didn’t sound like it was coming from any source, but more like it was coming from an entire mountain side. We booked it back to the safety of the main part of camp, where we tell this story to anyone who will listen.
The next day, the camp director had a meeting where they told us to tell our campers not to freak out at the sound of bobcats in the forest. They are harmless, they told us, but they do still tend to make a high-pitched yelping sound at night. Oh. My. God. Well, our friends wouldn’t let us live that one down all summer.
42. A Stink That Saves
We drove cross country to go to Glacier National Park, and mid-drive the park caught on fire. We got there and they directed us to the west side of the park because that was still open. We spent the night there and all was well. At first. In the morning, we decided to do a little hiking and swim in a lake. It was beautiful, but ash was falling like snow.
It should have been alarming, but there were other people around, at least for a while, and we figured if it was something serious certainly someone would have told us…After swimming, we decided to go down to a little town we saw because they had a laundromat. We thought we might treat ourselves to some clean clothes and a lunch or something.
We packed up the car and tent and drove down. At that point, there was a flurry of activity and our car was stopped. As they halted us, they were checking lists to mark us off…because the park had been evacuated and we were “missing.” Turns out, the fire had turned and was very close to us. Like, so close that as we drove down and out we could see flames.
We never really could comprehend how totally screwed we almost were. And it was all because I was annoyed that one guy on the trip kept wearing just one pair of shorts. He had other clothes he claimed were dirty, but kept saying the shorts weren’t dirty. They were; he smelled. He needed to wash something so I made it out like I wanted to do everyone’s laundry even though I just wanted to wash something for him in hopes he would change. If I hadn’t been so “excited” about laundry, we’d have never left.
43. Party Animal
This was not hiking, but it was in a remote place in the woods. My uncle built a house out on some acreage he has that is pretty far out there. There is not another house within two miles of his at least, and most of that is woods and cow pastures. But, his place is beautiful. He built it all by hand and has a wonderful wraparound deck, perfect for family get-togethers.
We were all out there, probably 20 adults and five or six kids, for a party one day. It was one of those summer times when it is blazing hot but the light breeze is cool enough that you don’t notice it after a while. I had been there hanging out all day when I was asked to run into town and grab some more groceries.
So, I packed up and headed out. Got the groceries and everything was fine. As I drove back, it was starting to get dark and it was at a time of year when dark comes fast. It was pitch black out there when I finally arrived. So at first, I couldn’t see what had gone horribly wrong. As I pull up, I notice something is sitting in front of my car, facing the house.
It was not disturbed by my headlights, but it does glance back at me once. It is a freaking panther. Just chilling there, watching the party. And, as I sit there for a second, watching it, I notice that it has specifically placed itself near the edge where all the kids are running around. After I have my headlights on it for a minute or so, it kind of looked back at me again as if to say, “Ok, I was caught. Oh well.”
And then it gave the most human-looking sigh and just walked off into the woods. I sat there for a bit before building myself up to getting out of my car and going to the party and telling everyone.
44. Alpha Bear Supreme
Dawn. Noises outside…Hear a tent rip. About to investigate. Someone starts screaming as I’m about to exit my tent. Grab my walking stick…get out to see a bear pulling a backpack out of a tent. Everyone is up now and getting outside. I yell “HEY!” as loud as I can. Bear looks at me, I start running at him. This next part is legendary.
Bear half stands up and kind of does a double take, then cowers into the bushes. From that point on, my friends called me “alpha bear.” These days it’s just bear.
45. Friendly Stranger
We had a guy slip in and join our backpacking trip. We went to sleep, woke up the next day, and he was there in our campsite in his tent. He was friendly, but it was still odd. When we went to sleep, it was like 10 pm and storming, so I’m not sure when or how he got there and set up a tent.
46. There’s Evil in Them Thar Woods
In the late 80s I was in my early 20s, and two friends and I went camping in central Florida. Two of us were working for the Park Service at that time, so we were able to camp for free in other parks in the state. Both of us had done a lot of camping before. Me, I grew up camping with my family on every single vacation, all over the state.
For the other friend with us, this was her first camping trip ever. We were camping in the youth area, which was empty that weekend and was quieter and more isolated than the regular campsites. Later in the afternoon on the second day of our trip, we were all sort of spread out in the area of the campsite, being within shouting distance but enjoying a little solitude.
I was collecting firewood. Every now and then, I’d kind of feel like someone was watching me. I’d look around, see and hear nothing, and then shrug it off and go back to what I was doing. Later on around sunset, we had the bonfire started. One of the rangers who lived on-site about a quarter-mile away came over with a truckload of firewood and a six-pack of beer.
We all sat around talking for awhile. Well after dark, we could suddenly hear what was probably a bunch of teenagers fooling around on one of the trails a couple miles away. Since the trails were closed at sunset, the ranger and my coworker drove off to shoo them back to their campsites. My other friend and I were just relaxing around the fire, talking a little, mostly enjoying the night and the peace and quiet.
All of a sudden, I had a cold chill go over me. The hair stood up on the back of my neck, and out of nowhere I was terrified. I tried to ignore it, but it kept building. I didn’t say anything to my friend since I didn’t want to scare her. Then I glanced over at her just as she glanced at me, and she said, “Do you feel that?!” I said, “Yeah…I think maybe we’d better go to the car.”
We both felt like we were in deadly danger, but no idea from what. We started walking at a casual pace, not wanting to appear scared, then halfway to the car we looked at each other again and simultaneously broke into a dead run. We reached the car, jumped in and locked the doors, and turned on the headlights.
I sat there with my pistol, feeling like it was totally inadequate for whatever was out there. We both just sat looking straight ahead—we were afraid to look around. I had the feeling at one point that if I turned my head and looked out the window, I’d see something that would drive me insane. I don’t know how long we sat there.
It was probably just a few minutes, but it felt like forever. Then it just…left. We could actually feel it going away. A few minutes after that, the other two came back in the truck. We kind of laughed it off afterward, but I’ll tell you, I’ve never been that scared before or since. I’ve faced a lot in my life and NOTHING has so completely terrified me like that. I don’t know what it was, but I’m still convinced we were in terrible danger.
47. Don’t Cage Me
I went camping by myself way out in the middle of nowhere in north-central PA. Drove on dirt forest service roads for over an hour and then hiked about 6 miles in on a barely recognizable trail. There were no signs anyone had been in the area recently. The trail was almost completely overgrown, no footprints, spiderwebs everywhere, etc.
I didn’t really have a planned stopping point, I was just looking for a nice place to camp, but the trail followed a creek in a valley and was very rocky and not flat. As the sun was starting to set, I came upon a fork in the creek, with a nice flat spot just on the other side. As I got closer, I saw all sorts of stuff laying about. I crossed the creek and started looking around.
There was a tarp on the ground by a stone fire ring, a log about a foot in diameter that had been chopped with an axe. A little bit away I found the entire contents of what you would imagine to find in a hikers backpack: food, cooking set, camping pad, first aid kit, etc., all strewn about on the ground, but no backpack in sight.
There was a pile of clothes down by the creek that looked like it had sat through the last rain, which was the day prior, and a towel hanging from a tree. There was an area that had clearly been used as a toilet, for maybe 10-14 days based on the amount of toilet paper piles. But that was far from the strangest thing I saw that day.
The strangest thing was this “cage” about four-foot square, made out of saplings tied together. It was framed where the edges of a cube would be, and then had cross bars diagonally on each face. But it wouldn’t have kept anything inside because of how much open space there was, and obviously wouldn’t have been very sturdy since it was only made from saplings.
I ended up deciding to set up camp there because it was nearly dark and I didn’t really have much choice unless I wanted to hike out in the dark on an unrecognizable trail. I had a 12″ knife on me and I kept that thing in one hand the whole time I was there, thinking some crazy guy was gonna jump out and try to eat me.
All night I barely slept and kept thinking I was hearing things, and then as soon as the sun came up I packed up and got the heck out of there. Everything turned out fine, no crazy cannibals or anything, but it still really bugs me because I don’t know what that stupid wooden cube frame cage thing was. I did try to find out.
I called the forest service for the area and told them about it, even sent them pictures. They said they’d send a ranger in to check it out and clean it up, but I never followed up to see if they figured out what it was. The ranger on the phone told me it was probably either someone with a still nearby, someone growing pot, or just some loner living out in the woods.
I roamed up the sides of the valley before I set up camp and didn’t see anything, a still seems unlikely because of how far you would have to carry equipment in, and the area isn’t really great for growing pot. So maybe it was just some guy living out in the woods. But why the cage??? It’s going to drive me crazy, I know it is.
48. This Is a Horror Movie
When I was younger, around 14 or 15 years old, my family used to camp at a state park. Every night, my friend and I would walk through the woods. We called this “the ritual.” This particular night, we decided to walk further into the woods than usual. We had flashlights, but we liked to try and navigate through the woods with them turned off. This was a horrible mistake.
We were about half a mile from the nearest campsite when we heard soft whispering behind us. Obviously, we hit the flashlights and spun around. Didn’t see anything. So we kept walking and we hear it again. This time, we stop and look around a bit before we decided to head back to our campsite. Then we see what’s whispering.
It’s a lady crawling on the ground whispering just random words. She was wearing dark clothes and was covered in dirt. When she sees that we notice her, she stands up and declares that she is looking for her campsite. We ended up walking her back to the campground and tried helping her find her group. Turns out, she was just got lost trying to find a bathroom.
Her friends didn’t even notice she was missing and if we didn’t go that far into the woods, she would have been lost all night. It was pretty creepy.
49. It Was a Warning
I was camping alone in a bit of secluded bushland, with lots of sticks and leaf litter. I heard a strange plopping noise during the night, but no other noises really. Well, I wake up to see a decapitated kangaroo’s head next to the tent that obviously wasn’t there when I put the tent up. No explanation. Got the heck out of there.
50. In the Hall of the Mountain Lion King
My mom and I went hiking in the foothills outside of town. We were maybe 15 minutes from town, if that. It was middle of the day and we were walking along a little creek when my mom told me to hold really still. When I stopped, I noted that every single animal was dead quiet, including the birds. I tried to ask my mom what was going on and she just held her finger to her lips.
She then whispered to me that we needed to walk backward very slowly and not make any quick movements. After about five minutes of this, we turn around and speed walk back to the car. We get in the car and I ask my mom what happened. She said that we were being stalked by a mountain lion. I was too busy having fun to have noticed the fresh tracks leading away from the water into the trees. If my mom hadn’t noticed the tracks and the silence, we probably wouldn’t have made it out of there.
51. You Are Never Alone
I was camping alone at a nearby lake in my late teens. I grew up hiking and camping so I was used to the noises and calls animals make in the woods at night. Sometime after I fell asleep, long enough for the small fire to die to embers, I woke up with this immediate awareness that I was not alone. I couldn’t hear much over the bug noises of summer, but then I heard voices off behind me.
I slowly threw as much dirt and rock onto what was left of the fire and waited. It sounded like someone whispering or talking low. I strained my ears, but the harder I listened the more everything began to meld together. At one point it sounded like they were to my left, then minutes later, directly to my right. And once it sounded like the voices were tuning in and out like a radio; kinda quiet, then suddenly louder. I laid there motionless for hours.
I fell asleep for a few hours after the sun was starting to come up. When I woke again, I packed up and crept back out of those woods. Just did not feel right. Haven’t felt it since, thankfully.
52. Don’t Answer Call of This Wild
I was camping with a friend at a campground just outside Portland—so well-traveled, fairly urban, lots of RVs around. It was raining and we were both in my tent dozing off. We heard—I kid you not—a LOUD animal scream, very close by. I’m an ecologist and know all the typical campground animal noises and this was not something I could identify at all.
It sounded like it came from something pretty big, but it wasn’t a coyote or a raccoon or anything. My closest guess is maybe a cougar, but I wouldn’t expect them to be so close to people in an urban campground. My friend heard it too and we just waited in silence. A few minutes later, another one screamed back from across the lake. The next morning when we got up, every dog in the campsite was totally terrified. We saw a few that had been leashed outside and were still hiding under RVs. To this day, I maintain it was either Bigfoot or a massive cougar.
53. The Coroner Takes No Vacations
When I was a kid, my family went camping near a very large lake. The second day we were there, I really wanted to go to the lake, but my younger sister was taking a nap in the tent. My stepdad watched my sister while my mom and I hiked to the lake ourselves.
When we got there, there were camp rangers, cops, and ambulances all pulled up to the side of the lake, and there were a bunch of small boats circling the water. My mom goes up to a ranger to ask what was up while I snuck off to get closer to the water edge. I get maybe 10 or 15 feet from the water’s edge when two guys in diving gear start pulling out this big, purple thing from the lake. Just then, my mom lifted me up, shoving my face into her chest, and running away from the lake.
As we walked back to the campsite, my mom tries to distract me by asking if I wanted to make s’mores and catch butterflies with her later. Something didn’t feel right to me, so I just said no and stayed silent almost all day. That night, when my sister had gone to bed, she explained me that a man had drowned in the lake before we got there, and the purple thing I saw being pulled out was his dead body.
I only vaguely remember the body; the purple arms being pulled by the divers is what stands out to me most. I don’t know how I didn’t see the face.
54. Furry Friend
Safari guide here. Woke up one morning with “something” very warm, rather soft, and comfy on my back. It took me far too long to realize the danger I was in. I realized there was some kind of animal on top of me. It was a really cold winter night. As I moved a bit, I heard my buddy speaking to me from his tent.
He spoke a bit hushed, and with a definite tremble in his voice. “Hey, are you awake?” Stupid me replied with a strong voice: “Yes.” The animal next to me got up, and (luckily) ran away. It was a big male lion.
55. Night Visions
I was camping in Glacier National Park a few years ago and decided to wake up early at night to catch the Perseids meteor shower. I stepped out of my tent and turned on my headlamp to see five pairs of glowing eyes staring back at me. It ended up being the same family of goats I saw when I set up my campsite. Still not what you want to see in the darkness.
I was driving in the Sierras and found a campground a few miles off the 395. The place was empty except for this one old car in a spot. I set up camp and a dog appears and just stares at me. After a bit, I made a sudden movement to scare it off. It was absolutely the wrong move. Dog proceeds to bark wildly. Then I hear some male voices. I hear one guy say, “Oh, we’re gonna have some fun tonight.”
I packed up and split in record time.
57. Kegger Confusion
Not entirely outdoorsy, but as a kid, probably around 11 years old, I was “camping out” with a friend and her sister, in a tent set up beside their carport, right beside their house. We were awakened in the middle of the night by a vehicle coming up their private drive. Sleepy, confused, and a bit frightened, we all laid there staring at each other as the vehicle stopped right beside us and at least two people—men from their voices, got out.
They walked right past our tent and argued in low voices in the carport for a minute before getting back in their vehicle and driving away. We then ran inside and woke my friend’s parents, after also discovering the flashlight we left on the nearby picnic table was gone. It turned out some teenagers further up the main road were having a “country kegger” (a party involving a keg of beer in a field) and someone took a wrong turn trying to find it.
Now, if you want some really creepy hiking/camping stories, find some Appalachian Trail hikers. I’ve heard some crazy stuff goes on in some of the more remote stretches.
58. The Fear
My first overnight backpacking trip with a friend—we’re both women—I parked my car at a trailhead, loaded my gear into friend’s van and we headed to another trailhead to sort our stuff, sleep in the van and get an early start the next morning. This trailhead is very popular, just off the main highway. The plan was to then backpack through a pass back to my car.
It’s starting to get dark and we have everything pulled out. The last people are coming down to their cars. It’s dark now and there were a couple of cars left in the lot. Then I notice two older men hanging around. They did not look like hikers and were not acting like hikers. They would talk to each other, but at an oddly far distance from one another and were facing us, not each other.
Every time I looked in their direction, they were standing in a different spot, watching us. I instantly felt danger—like electricity buzzing on my skin. My friend was oblivious, rationing food or something. Next thing they started talking to her asking strange questions and making comments about a big party and wondering if the trailhead gets chained at a certain time.
I don’t know, as I’m writing this, it sounds innocuous but the dudes were creepy and fanned out in a strange way. I felt hunted. My friend, without saying a word, started throwing our gear back in the van. We hauled butt, messed up our packing. I held my knife and tried to shine my headlamp on it in their direction as much as possible—truly ready to fight or flight.
Dudes stood there and didn’t back away. We drove off before I even had a chance to close my door. I’ve never been so angry. It sucks to live in a world in which you must fear for your own safety.
59. An Unwanted Guest
I used to go to a survival summer camp. One night we were heading back to our campsite, about 3 1/2 miles from the nearest road, a tiny dirt road leading to the main road, at about two in the morning after an 18-mile long hike. We started hearing loud music as we got closer to our site. We thought it might be a party or something, which happened quite frequently, unfortunately.
As we got closer, we saw one guy sitting against his car, obviously very drunk, with a firearm. We ran down the trail about a mile to the only place on the whole property with reception and called 9-1-1. It was actually really scary and being a bunch of 14-year-olds, we freaked. Luckily, we had spent the better part of the last seven summers in these woods.
60. There Be Lions Part II
Six years ago, I was outside with my telescope at my cottage. I heard branches moving in one of the trees that were only about 40 feet from me. Then I heard a growling purr sound. Then I heard a pack of wolves howling. There had been reports of mountain lions in the area even though they went extinct in Ontario, Canada.
A few days later I checked mountain lion sounds online and that was definitely what I heard.
61. The South Pole
I spent a couple of years at the South Pole. First, when it’s night and windy with extremely low visibility, you have to walk via the flag lines. Sometimes the visibility is so bad you can’t actually see the next flag and have to go based on the sound of the next flag flapping. There have been a few times where the wind has made some scary sounds, and I’ve thought to myself that we’ve put a lot of trust into the fact that there’s nothing out there.
The second more rational fear is that if I were to trip and break my ankle or get lost in this visibility I would surely freeze to death before ever being found. Lights don’t help a lot in thick blowing ice crystals. Second, we have underground arches, including the fuel arch, logistic arch, etc. People swear they have experienced the ghost of Rodney Marks down there.
I’ve never experienced THAT, but the ice periodically does make some very scary sounds.
62. The Ghost Train
In my old cub scout troop, there was this train that was about 40-45 minutes away from the campsite that we went to frequently, and we would hear it about every 30 minutes or so during night time. It was a real train, but the scouts liked to say that it was actually a ghost train and that it doesn’t need any tracks to run along. One night at the campsite, I kid you not, I hear that train whizzing directly outside my tent.
Just loud and clear, this supposed ghost train whizzes right by my tent, and I can hear its wheels on the tracks as it rolls along. I don’t know if it was a dream or a hallucination, but that was really creepy.
63. The Mysterious Figure
Me, my brothers and my dad were camping out on the trampoline when we saw a shooting star, but as soon as it faded away, there was a low rumble and I think I saw a figure approaching. When the rumble suddenly stopped, the figure disappeared with it. I was the only one that saw it and no one believed me.
64. The Night Tent-Diggers
I was doing the Juan De Fuca trail but I am not that experienced, I have only done a couple of multiple-day hikes, guided by a friend. The Juan De Fuca trail is fairly busy—you are far from out in the woods alone. Anyhow, we were partway in and I heard something pawing and digging at the side of my tent, so naturally, I ducked down for safety.
Being a wimp, I asked my trail partner to please check. He did not see anything and was totally unruffled, but I had trouble sleeping, worrying about the terrifying night tent-diggers. The next day we were drinking tea on the beach and found a mink running across the rocks. The annoying but cute little buggers had chewed through anything they could find, including our neighbor’s laminated maps.
Part of the creepy factor is really just feeling vulnerable to a lot of little unknowns.
65. The Lost Man
Apparently, I have a lot of these but this one is not mine. It was late at night and I was three years old so memory is a bit vague. I wake up to a desperate knock at the door and walk out of my room. I see my dad taking his .44 mag revolver to the door. We lived in the middle of nowhere at this time of my life. It turns out that it was an honest hunter who had been lost in the woods for three weeks.
My dad woke up my mom (because he can’t cook for anything) to make the hunter some food and then drove him the 30 miles into town. He kept the revolver the whole time. Turned out fine though.
66. That is No Stick
I was deep in a state park in North Carolina at a primitive campsite with my mom. We were setting up camp after hiking 15 miles in and it started getting dark. We had a fire going but needed more wood to keep it burning through the night so we were poking around the perimeter of the firelight picking up sticks. My mom started reaching for a long branch behind a log but something about it gave her pause.
She pulled another stick from the bundle she’d already gathered and hit the one on the ground. It started writhing, coiled up and started rattling at her. We both jumped back and watched as a seven-foot rattlesnake slithered away into the woods. We decided we had enough wood.
67. Wood, Brick, and Legs
This was technically in the jungle, but I think it’s worth a mention. I was volunteering in South America a few years ago in a nature park/range. Mosquito nets and hardcore bug killer was practically mandatory, so I was pretty keyed in to the fact that I was probably going to be dealing with some biting bugs. The building I was staying in was made of old wood and brick, and was cracked and warped, dark and warm.
I had fallen asleep fairly quickly most nights, but the worst of my curiosity led me to click on my flashlight one night. In almost every crack of brick, almost every warp and slit of wood were spider legs. And not just the same spider legs. Furry, skinny, colored, thick, small, large, all were filling the nooks and crannies of my room. And all I had was my mosquito net. which is for mosquitos.
68. A Marinating Meal
Went deep sea kayaking off the Carolina coast. We would camp on the various islands. It was so ungodly hot, even under our tarp was unbearable. I’m from Georgia and am used to our summers but this was something else. I spent about six hours just standing in the water one day, attempting to stay cool. The next morning there were literally dozens of sharks feeding on fish.
They would ride the waves onto shore and flop around until the next wave or two would carry them back out. I know sharks are overhyped and will most likely leave you alone but it still felt bizarre that I literally spent hours just marinating in the ocean and they were probably all around me.
69. Suspicious Snorts
My freaky experience happened a few years ago. My dad and I loaded some camping gear onto the back of our bicycles and left our home in Wisconsin to ride around a part of the state for a few days. I don’t like paying to sleep on the ground, so about an hour before dark, we’d start looking for somewhere we could disappear into the woods to pitch our tent for the night.
On the second night, we found a small grass path through the woods that went to a farm field quite a way off. We pitched our tent to one side of the path and quickly fell asleep. Until around 2:00 that night, when we were woken up by a sort of snorting sound outside the tent. Every, I don’t know, 30 seconds? A minute? We’d hear the noise come out of the woods behind us.
Figuring it was likely just a deer on the path from the woods to the farm field we were blocking, dad and I just started talking loudly to each other about it, hoping our voices would scare it away. When that didn’t work, I tried shining my light through the wall of the tent. Eventually, I ended up getting out of the tent, waving the light in the direction of the noise, and yelling at it to go away.
And then we never heard it again. I never saw so much as a pair of eyes reflecting the light, nor did I hear any plants moving around as it ran away, but the snorting sound stopped. Even though it most likely was just a deer, I had never heard a noise quite like that before. Once we fully woke up, we regained our wits, but in that brief period where we were only half awake, it was a terrifying noise.
70. The Thin Spot
We were camping at Long Beach, Washington for the kite festival, and decided to take a late-night drive. We found ourselves on some back roads in the woods, cruising along slowly with no music on and the windows down. No other cars but us, and suddenly everything just felt wrong. It was dark, but the light seemed different somehow.
I remember the hair on the back of my neck standing up and just having the thought, “This isn’t right, we shouldn’t be here.” I look over and my wife is wide-eyed and clearly feeling the same way. I decided to pull over so I could turn around and head back the way we came. Then we noticed deer were coming out of the woods and standing on the sides of the road, and they were just… staring at us.
We realize the woods are oddly quiet, which just made things seem even more strange. We look up and the branches were full of birds on both sides of the road. There must have been hundreds of them, all perched and alert. My wife said, “We need to go.” So, we left. Eventually, once we had gone far enough, everything seemed normal again.
I’m a pretty big fan of the idea of multiple worlds/dimensions, and honestly wonder if we accidentally drove through a “thin spot” and briefly wound up somewhere we shouldn’t have been.
71. Don’t Go in the Tall Grass
Mind you this was not in a forest but surrounded by tall dead grass by cliffs over the ocean. I went backpacking on my home island in Hawaii; there’s this trail that goes all the way around the island called the King’s Trail that has been known to have a particular bloody past with many murders happening near it in one particular area.
The legend goes that if you see men walking along with clubs/torches, you are near death. I was off the beaten path about 12 miles from a highway and another 15 to any hospital. It was 2 am, I got up to take a leak about 10 feet from my tent; it was a nearly moonless night with a few clouds. I finish up, go back to my tent and just as I am getting inside, I hear rustling, then grunts…which sounded almost human.
I quickly grabbed a knife and a flashlight leaving the tent I quietly slinked into the tall grass opposite to where I heard the sound. I stand still, trying to pinpoint the location. 10 minutes go by, the sound picks up again, at this point I’m on my hands and knee’s circling around behind to where they were coming from; could have been no more than 20 feet.
I throw a large rock five feet from where I could perceive the sound coming from. As soon as the rock hit the ground, the largest boar I had ever seen bolts out of the long grass. I watched it run for a bit until it disappears from my view 200m away; in the moment I felt nothing, I felt ready. But as soon as the boar had left, panic set in, heavy breathing, sweating, the full nine yards.
I immediately packed all my stuff and moved right onto a beach where there was no grass or trees for 100 feet.
72. Bambi and Friends
This was when I was about 17 years old. I was camping in the Australian outback with 3 other guys from high school. We each had our own tents. Sometime late at night, I get woken up by a clinking sound. Something or someone has just plinked a tin can at our camping site. We took them with us when we left, but they were stacked next to the fire.
I sit up and listen, and whatever it is, there’s more than one of them. In fact, we appear to be surrounded. I can hear small noises coming from all over the campsite. I’m a bit worried, but I finally work up the nerve to stick my head out of the tent flap. And discover it’s a herd of miniature deer. None of them are taller than my hip, they look like a herd of Bambi. About twelve of them.
One of them sees me and stops for a moment and just looks at me, then they turn tail, and run. In the morning there were little hoof prints imprinted all over the camp. I guess they were after the “fruits in syrup” cans I brought with me.
73. There Be Lions Part I
Camping in the bush in Africa years ago. It was a big, semi-permanent campsite with big, rectangular tents you could stand up in, and we were only there for the weekend. My sister and I were in a tent set a little away from the others, down a short pathway. It was a stunning night, full moon, clear sky, and my sister wanted to leave the tent flaps open.
No way. Nope. I insisted on closing them. I was woken up several times during the night by lions roaring—it’s a sound you only want to hear with something sturdy between you and it. The next morning, a couple of the other campers walked up to our little path. They were following lion footprints. It had wandered through the main site, up our path, right up to our firmly closed tent “door,” walked all around the tent, then walked off into the bush.
No arguments about closing up the tent that night!
74. The Ranger’s Tale
I actually slept through the creepiest thing that happened to me in the woods but it has made me a much more cautious camper. My friends and I were packing up camp in Glacier National Park. A park ranger came over and started to chat. After a few minutes, he tells us how the night before he watched a mother grizzly and her cub wander around our camp.
Luckily no one woke. The ranger stuck around and watched to make sure we were okay. It disturbed me both that I could sleep through the sound of a bear outside my tent and that someone could stay just outside camp watching while we slept and we would have had no clue if he hadn’t told us.
75. A Rustling Sound
I was out camping with my family down at the Gulf of Mexico, and I assume it was 1 am when I heard a deep rumbling noise kind of like cans moving but soft. Quiet at first but building up. So, I get up quietly and unzip the tent door to see what it was—and before the whole door is open, I stop. There was a man, very old skinny and dirty looking, going through our bags.
The noise I heard was him shifting our supply’s around. He was shoving our food into an old plastic bag. I assume he was homeless and just trying to get a meal, but it was terrifying none the less…
76. It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane
This one time I was sleeping atop a mountain in the Italian Apennines. Just me, my sleeping bag and the stars. No tent. No cover. In fact, to be fair, there wasn’t even a forest; I was completely exposed to the elements, and that’s why it took me some time to fall asleep. But it didn’t last long. Just minutes before dawn, I get woken up by what I perceived as a deafening roaring of winds.
As soon as I opened my eyes, there it was, mere meters from me; a freaking ginormous eagle flying in circles above me, flapping its enormous wings in what seemed to be a desperate effort to not lose altitude and hit me. The scariest thing I’ve ever experienced.
77. Stranger by the Outhouse
When I was at least five years old me and my dad went camping. He told me on our way if I needed to go to the bathroom to tell him and he will walk me to the outhouses they had near where we were staying. It was at least two in the morning and I woke up having to go to the bathroom so I tried to wake up my dad. He didn’t wake up so I went by myself.
I walk to the outhouse I look around and see a tall skinny man near the outhouse. I didn’t say anything, I just ran back to our tent. Later I found out that there was an armed criminal in the camping area where we were.
78. A Close Call
I was elk hunting in Washington State a few years ago. As I was side-hilling a small canyon, I experienced the old cliché of an “odd feeling” and being really uncomfortable. I headed up to the ridge-line and eventually met up with another hunter coming down the ridge very quickly. He waved me down and informed me that he had been watching me through binoculars and that I had walked directly under a tree with a mountain lion in it.
Apparently, I walked right under it and it simply watched me. Guess he wasn’t hungry. Not so creepy, but an unnerving feeling!
79. Nightmare Island
Not in the night, but when I was a teenager my friends and I liked to explore uninhabited islands. They’re called The Thousand Islands in the Indian River Lagoon. We camped, played paintball, pretty innocent fun. One day we decided to explore a new island for a fresh spot. We found a big one, so to save time, I was inserted on the southern end to explore while the others canoed around the island to see what there was to see.
The plan was for me to meet them on the north side. That did not happen. The island was a nightmare. Brambles, and bush so thick I had to belly crawl through the muck. The perimeter was a swamp with dead trees and god knows what lurking under the film of green algae. And then there were the skeletons. As I crawled my way up the island, I came upon skeleton after skeleton.
Turtles, raccoons, deer. That’s when it hit me; this is an alligator haven. I freaked out and made a break for the open water, not wanting to die. I yelled out as loud as I could, and fortunately, my friends heard me and paddled furiously out to me. I had made it only one-third of the way up the island and was thankfully extracted.
We named that one Nightmare Island and never returned.
80. Nocturnal Activity
About a year ago, I was camping along the PCT in Washington. It was late October and getting to around freezing in the middle of the night in the mountains. So, there were no other people, which was what I wanted. I got to the trail late and hiked with my dog for a while in the dark with my headlamp. We found a place that was a few hundred feet from a small river.
It wasn’t loud but you could hear it. I get to work starting a fire when my dog suddenly starts barking. I’m pretty paranoid so I keep a 3800-lumen flashlight and a big knife on me. I whirl around and shine the light and grab the knife. Nothing. I sweep the trees, looking for the reflection of eyes. Still nothing. Dog’s on alert but not barking.
I get back to work and this happens a few times. Each time I grab the knife and light but can’t see anything. Eventually, I search the brush around the clearing but still nothing so I go to bed thinking maybe something small. Around 1 am I’m woken up by something rustling around outside. By the sound, I think it was probably the size of a coyote. I don’t get out of the tent.
About 3 am I’m woken up by a loud screech and two large animals bolting through my clearing. It’s cold and dark and most of the way up a mountain so there shouldn’t be anything. I’m a little freaked out so I grab my knife and listen in the tent. There’s a screech in the distance then nothing. Ultimately, I wake up and it’s raining so there are no prints, and nothing else happened.
But it sure freaked me out. If I had to guess, I’d say a goat or something with hooves became a midnight snack for whatever was lurking around my site.
81. A Big Black Eye
I was in Yellowstone with my wife. We biked about four miles to this geyser off the main road, so nobody else was around. While waiting for it to go off, we started hiking down by the river nearby. As I walked past a big tree with low hanging branches, I see on the other side of the tree just a few feet away from me, a big brown fur head with a big black eye staring at me.
For a split second, I thought it was a grizzly bear and it scared the poop out of me. It ended up being a bison just sitting there for some reason.
82. A Forest of Eyes
Back in mid or late October, I was camping on the San Juan Islands off the Washington coast, in the little inlet that separates the Olympic Peninsula from the rest of Washington. My last night before returning to the mainland, I stayed in the campground in a state park on one of the islands. That campground happened to be just two miles or so away from the highest point in the rather hilly archipelago.
Hiking to the top of Mt. Constitution was the main reason I went back to that island before finishing my time on the islands, but I was initially just planning to do it whenever I happened to wake up the next morning. That evening as I lay in my tent, I realized it would be really cool to watch the sunrise from the top. So, I set an alarm for 4:00 am.
I figured that would give me plenty of time to be on the trail by 4:45. I figured it’s roughly two hours to the top, that would get me to the summit right around first light at 6:45 before the 7:15 or 7:30 sunrise. I forgot that the batteries in my headlamp were nearing the end of their life. My headlamp was pretty much useless in actually seeing where I was going, although it did cast just enough light to reflect off the eyes of all the animals watching me through the woods.
Presumably just deer, but it still freaked me out. The entire two hours, I was constantly noticing them. It was never just a single pair of eyes, either, but always two or three animals together. They never made a noise, never even moved. Just stood there watching me.
83. Don’t Move a Muscle
Years back, I was out solo backpacking in the Pecos Wilderness of northern New Mexico. Camping about a six-hour hike from the nearest pavement way up past Puerto Nambe. I typically used an enclosed camping hammock. Lightweight, bug proof, packs up small with a rain fly. No need to carry a pad or mat. Just need two trees.
It’s easy and perfect for solo camping. When you’re in it, with the full fly on, you don’t have any real visibility around you. The top was totally enclosed by bug screen. To get inside, you sort of climbed into a slit in the bottom, and then your weight pulled and held it closed. It worked well, but it was a convoluted process to get in and out of.
I picked a spot just at the edge of the tree line, so I could cook on the edge of the meadow with a view of Santa Fe Baldy. Ate dinner, cleaned up, bags in trees, looked at probably a billion stars, and then processed myself into the hammock for the night. At some point, in the pitch black, I bolted awake. I heard the crunching of footsteps in the pine needles around me.
It was the kind of awake where you go from fast asleep to instantly hyper-aware, but totally frozen. I make absolutely no sound. I can’t look outside, lighting a light would only illuminate the hammock like a lamp and leave me totally blind to the surroundings. The crunching continues as if it’s circling the hammock. I’m not sure how long I held my breath.
The crunching is right alongside me. I have zero clue what it is. Suddenly, something PUSHES against the side of my hammock, and in the hammock, that means it pushed against me. I could feel its body heat. This isn’t a tent wall, where you can cower away from it. If you lean, the hammock moves with you. Whatever it was seemed to use its snout to nuzzle or root against the side of the hammock, like it was sniffing something out.
I was still holding deathly still, trying to come up with a plan to get away, which would involve trying to slash the opposite side with my knife. The thing pushes again and slides up the side of the hammock. I could feel the texture of its fur/hide/hair/whatever scraping against the nylon side. I hear a sharp snort, and it crunches away.
I’m not sure how long I stayed absolutely still, but at some point, the sun came up and I ventured into the daylight. I looked around the campsite and could find no evidence of a visitor. The tree line edge was floored with pine needles, so there were no prints or tracks. None of my other gear was disturbed, the guy lines for the fly were all still tight, and I didn’t see any marks on the side of the hammock.
I couldn’t even find a broken twig. I’m not sure it even happened. I’ve never slept in a hammock since.
84. The Fire Eater
I was camping with my dad in this crazy bush area where you had to hike about two hours to this main waterhole. We inflated a boat and went to a small island where the front of the island was sand but the back all bush, so we put our tents up and went fishing. We cooked some fish and ate marshmallows when we heard a howl.
It sounded far away but it scared us, so we got enough firewood for the fire to burn all night, in case we needed to pee or something. No clue what time it was, but in the middle of the night I had to pee. I went to a tree and stood there. I returned to my tent and heard that howl, but it was very close this time—before it sounded a long way away.
I was scared but went back to sleep. In the morning we woke up to see a small snake trail and our fire in ruins. It was picked apart and way smaller even though we had enough wood because I have been here before and never had problems with running out of wood. There was also some gear left out chewed or missing. No clue what it was but it was weird as heck.
Other than that, great spot in Australia.
85. Times Are-a-Changing
My boyfriend and I were camping in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park in Alberta this past summer. On the last night of our stay, as I’m falling asleep, my boyfriend tells me I’ve been pushing him off his side of the air mattress and asks me to give him room. Sounds good, we go to sleep. I wake up to him shoving me and think I’m crowding him by accident, so I move over a little.
He shoves me harder and I’m annoyed now because I already moved and I’m tired so I somewhat loudly say, “I’m moving!” And he grabs be and shushes me. I know something is wrong and am awake right away. He whispers very softly, “Do you hear something?” And right away I hear the unmistakable exhaling huff of a bear right by my head.
My heart is pounding because, at this point, I can hear it sniffing us and huffing—which is not good if you know grizzlies. My boyfriend says we need to get to our truck and I agree, but from what I can hear, the bear is between our tent and truck. Luckily, we have command start and our truck has a very aggressive start, so when my boyfriend started the truck, I heard some crashing through the trees and we both ran to the truck.
We drove a lap around our campground to make sure the bear hadn’t gone into anyone else’s site, but we didn’t see it. We slept in the truck until it was light out and let the wildlife hotline in the area know before we left. We started second-guessing ourselves because this all happened at about 1:30 am, but when we were packing up the tent that next day, we found coarse, brown hair all over the side of the tent where our heads were and on the grill of the truck.
I’ve never been so terrified and full of adrenaline in my life.
86. The Baboon Bully
I was hiking in Africa with a group of about eight friends. I felt something behind me so I turn around and find myself eye to eye with a giant alpha male baboon. I handed over my backpack, which is what he was reaching for, and he proceeded to carry it a few meters away, sit down, and stare at me while he unzipped the zippers and inspected every item.
He ate what was food and left the rest. He then proceeded to stalk/chase us all the way out of the gorge, coming back twice for more stuff. We tried scaring him off and even pepper-sprayed him in the face but he just shook it off. It was one of the most awesome and terrifying experiences of my life that I hope to never repeat.
87. The Shack in the Woods
My friend and I were searching for the perfect camping spot for about a year. After trying out quite a few, we found one that seemed perfect. It was about a half-hour walk from any trail or road and on top of a large cliff over a river. We got camp set up and decided to scout out around the area. It was getting dark so we started heading back, following the sound of the river to guide us when we spotted a shack.
We stop and look at each other, and decide we better investigate because it is pretty close to where we are going to be sleeping and this is weird. We get closer and realize it is basically a teepee made from scraps of aluminum and other sheet metal and a tarp. There is an inflated air mattress inside, and wine and whiskey bottles EVERYWHERE. But that’s not the worst part.
There were also X-rated materials and a lot of extremely weird objects that someone normally would not have out camping. This place is a couple of hours from any town and like I said, at least a half-hour from any road or trail. There were no vehicles parked anywhere even remotely close because we would have seen them in our travels.
We came to the conclusion that whoever had been here must have left, and they obviously did not want to be found. Then, on our way out, I noticed the campfire was still smoldering. We got the heck out of there. I immediately packed up camp and blindly made our way back to the road. Screw that, I’ve watched enough horror movies to know that us teenage white boys would not be waking up that morning.
88. The Scream
Backpacking in the woods with a group. I’m a bit of an insomniac, so I was up far after everyone else. We wanted to pack as light as possible and it was summer so we just had a tarp on the ground and put our sleeping bags on top of it. We are completely out in the open. It was after midnight and I was still tossing and turning. Then I hear footsteps.
I had heard a deer/coyote or something else with four legs running through the brush earlier, but this was definitely bipedal. What/whoever it was came right to the edge of the clearing, about 15-feet from us. I could just barely make out a shadow of the figure, but it was pitch black out and hard to tell what it looked like. It looked like it was swaying side to side, or looking around the clearing.
Then it turned and rushed into the woods, and I heard the running footsteps. Once they faded into the distance, I finally felt like I could breathe. I was considering waking someone up. Then I heard the most blood-curdling scream from the direction the thing went. I shook my friend awake, who was more experienced and familiar with the area. All he said was, “Dude it’s just a fox, go back to sleep.”
I told him I heard the footsteps and saw it and it was not a fox, but he just dismissed it completely and insisted I go back to sleep. I sat there for what felt like forever feeling paranoid and scared until I just gave up and took an extra dose of my sleep meds because I figured the anticipation was worse than being killed in my sleep.
89. The Screech
I was spending three days kayaking on the Coorong. I was having a great time and really enjoying the serenity and listening to the native birds and just appreciating nature. On the first day, I heard what I could have sworn was a human not screaming, but screeching, I guess? I didn’t think much of it and kept paddling. I saw what looked like a body close to the shore and found a seal that had just been eviscerated.
Honestly, this thing was spread all over the beach. No footprints of any kind, just a seal in a hundred pieces. After the screeching and the seal, I was a little creeped out but just continued my trip. Nothing of event really happened that night except that I kept hearing splashes from the water in front of me, yet when I checked there was nothing there.
The next day I went out again with the same plan. Just paddle until I got tired and then set up camp and go to bed. Unfortunately for me I got stuck on mud bog and had to spend a solid hour dragging my kayak across this thing to get to the other side of the water where I saw a deeper channel and a bunch of sand dunes. After what feels like maybe 40 minutes of struggling with my kayak and this bog, I saw a figure atop one of the sand dunes.
Logically it was probably a random tourist like me, or maybe a kangaroo. I stared at it for a second before getting back to trying to cross this bog. When I looked back it was gone. Weird. Anyway, I set up camp for my last night, I was a bit creeped out by the seal and the noises and now this figure, so I made sure I had my knife with me.
I set up my tent a bit away from the water in an open area so I could see everything around me. As I was eating dinner, I couldn’t help but feel I was being watched. As it was a total fire ban in the area, I didn’t have a fire so I couldn’t see much. I chalked it up to nerves and went for a short walk to explore the area I was in and wander down to the beach.
Now for some context, the beach nearby is LOUD, you can’t hear much other than crashing waves which makes what happened next especially eerie. I heard that freaking screeching again and looked back to where I came from. Again, a figure was standing in right by the path where I walked to the beach. Screw that I thought, I pulled my knife out and approached where I thought I saw this thing, and there was just a week-old fish that looked like it had been hung on the fence and forgotten.
As I walked back down the path, I heard what sounded like a kangaroo or wallaby just lightly hopping behind me, but when I looked back there was nothing there. Honestly, I just climbed into my tent and prayed to god there was nothing around. It’s kind of anticlimactic but nothing else really happened, I think I heard that screeching once more and then I didn’t hear it again.
Apparently, there are a few indigenous graveyards in the area, I’m not one for superstition but if I’m being honest this experience really spooked me.
90. The Man-Bear
This memory is over 20 years old, and super foggy because I was super little, but here goes. We used to camp at this same spot every year, until we moved. Anyway, this one summer I remember when we were first pitching our tent, the nearest campers came over to say hello and pass on some advice that had been spreading across the campground.
Something about bears, and how everyone should haul their food up in the trees or something. I remember the guy offering my dad some spare rope if he needed any. All seemed fine and dandy. Mom was antsy, but dad assured her a bear wouldn’t come into a campground this busy. On night two or three, everyone was woken to a crash and the sounds of a car alarm.
I remember pressing my hand over my sister’s mouth because I was afraid that if she cried the bear would come over. Or something silly like that. There was some distant shouting, and my dad decided to investigate. So, he grabbed the tiny little skillet and his equally dis-proportioned (but in the opposite proportions) flashlight and exited the tent.
I remember rolling over because there was this little tear in the tent that I’d discovered the last time it rained. There were a lot of flashlights and people over by the bathroom, where a car’s lights were flashing. It wasn’t a bear that had been breaking into people’s cars and stealing stuff all summer. It was a crazy homeless guy who’d been hiding out in the woods.
They were actually pretty sure he was the same guy who’d tried to attack two teenage girls at one of the nearby hiking trails a few weeks prior, leading to it being closed for a time.
91. The Black Dog
I was whitetail hunting in northern Michigan, it was getting dark and I saw a large black mass move into my bait pile, first I thought it was a black bear which isn’t uncommon. I soon realized it was a dog/wolf-like animal, but much bigger than any darn dog or wolf I have ever seen. It was pure black and its fur seemed wispy.
I sat there closing my eyes hard and opening them again trying to disprove what my eyes were telling me but I simply couldn’t. It walked in and out of sight in a matter of two minutes. I was scared stiff and hung my stuff up for the year after that.
92. The Singer and the Giant
My sister and I went camping in the North Cascades in Washington state. This was our first time camping just us two. The first night we set up our tent and went to sleep. The next day we woke up early and hiked Sourdough Mountain. That night when we got back to the campsite at around 8, it looked like our stuff had been rifled through.
Nothing had been taken. We brushed it off mostly because we were insanely tired and sore. We went to sleep. I woke up at around 3 am to the sounds of loud singing. At this point, I’m just annoyed because I’m exhausted. After listening closer, I realized it was not a language I am familiar with and the man sounded absolutely insane.
I’m increasingly getting more and more terrified because the singing kept getting louder and quieter like he was walking around singing. I wake my sister up to listen to the singing, and literally, at this exact time, we hear the sound of tree branches snapping. Someone or something was walking around our tent. At this point, we’re freaking out.
Suddenly, a flashlight is shining in on my side of the tent. Like he was looking in. There was no flashlight shining up until this point. He couldn’t have been more than five feet away from my side of the tent. We left all of our stuff in the tent and booked it to the car. The spots for parking were right behind the tent, so I shined my car’s high-beams at whoever it was and it was a large man in a hoodie unzipping our tent.
Who knows what he wanted, but it was terrifying. Also, I think the crazy singer saved us because it woke us up before the man got into our tent.
93. Standing Silhouettes
I was hiking along the north shore of Lake Superior in Minnesota. If you’ve never been, it’s really thick old-growth forest. There’s a 360-mile hiking trail from Duluth to the Canadian border; really well-developed campsites and enough traffic that I wouldn’t feel unsafe on it anywhere. For this particular trip, my hiking buddy and I wanted to turn it into a loop instead of an out and back on the same trail.
Scoped out a section that’s connected with some back roads and a snowmobile trail that would work as our loop. As we’re hiking on one of the dirt back roads, we see a random dirt biker approach us, stop maybe a hundred yards back, and stare for a while. Kind of unnerving with him just staring at us for a while, but he eventually turned and left.
We eventually get to a log shelter on the snowmobile trail that we planned as campsite one. Nice relaxing campsite, go to bed. We woke up in the middle of the night (full moon), and I swore there were two moonlit silhouettes standing on either side of my tent. Not sure if I dreamed it or it was real, but freaky as heck. I remember just staying as still/silent as possible for as long as possible.
94. Splashing Around
A number of years ago, I was up in the northern end of British Colombia in the islands out by Port Hardy. I set up camp right by the beach close to shore. I did the normal; catch a fish, cook it for dinner on the campfire thing. It was perfect really. A few hours pass and it’s getting dark. I climb into the tent and fall asleep quickly. I get woken up by extremely heavy breathing on the beach from something BIG.
In the area of my fire but the tide was in now so the waves would have covered it. My first thought was a bear. But on the islands where I was, bears were not common at all to the point that there hasn’t been one documented ever. This was blasting through my mind, but then the urban legend talk of Bigfoot runs through my mind. At this point, I am like there is no such thing as Bigfoot, so what is it?
I gain my courage and open my tent. I shine my flashlight around but I don’t see anything, so I get out of my tent. I am shining my light around when I hear it again. This huge breath but followed by a small splash. I focus my light on the beach when I see a massive Orca rolling around on the kelp right about where my fire was. This behemoth of a marine mammal scared the living poop out of me but it turned into being one of the most amazing events I ever witnessed.
As I sat watching this massive animal rolling and playing yards from me, I noticed more of them just offshore just bobbing there, probably half asleep. Needless to say, I did not sleep after that until they left.
95. One of the Pack
One night, I was sleeping in my tent up in the Canadian shield. I heard crunching on the rocks near me. It got closer and closer. Then things started brushing against my tent. I was terrified, but also stupidly curious. So, I poked my head out of the tent to see what was going on and guess what I saw? Wolves. A whole pack of wolves, sniffing around the tent. They barely even reacted to me poking my head out. Just stared at me and kept sniffing. I closed the tent back up and hid in my sleeping bag hoping they didn’t decide to rip into my tent and eat me.
96. She’s Seen Enough Scary Movies to Know Where This Goes
My mom used to hike at a forest preserve every day before work. But the last time she went, her blood ran cold. She saw that a man in the distance was following her. He kept getting closer every time she looked back, like a poorly directed horror flick. She instinctively ran to the nearest bathroom and locked the door behind her. Sure enough, the man tried to get in, pounding and yanking at the handle. She held out long enough for a passerby to scare the guy off.
97. I Smell A Rat
There’s a trail by my house where I go running all the time. Last fall I was out and noticed something hanging from a branch. Somebody made little twine nooses and hung like two or three mice from them. Absolutely chilling.
98. A Flash of Confusion
I was in the Boy Scouts, camping at a popular summer camp. My buddy and are awake hours after lights out, just talking, when all of a sudden the whole camp lights up like daylight for about two seconds. Now I have no great explanation for this. Logically it’s heat lightning (no thunder) but it wasn’t flashing. It was like someone turned on a massive fluorescent bulb and then turned it off.
Freaked us out as we’re 15 years old and can’t explain what we saw.
I was driving in the Sierras and found a campground a few miles off the 395. The place was empty except for this one old car in a spot. I set up camp and a dog appears and just stares at me. After a bit, I made a sudden movement to scare it off. It was absolutely the wrong move. Dog proceeds to bark wildly. Then I hear some male voices. I hear one guy say, “Oh, we’re gonna have some fun tonight.”
I packed up and split in record time.
100. Clench Worthy
In my late teenage years, I came into some money after my father died by suicide and I received an inheritance from him. At the time of my dad’s passing, he and my mom owned a cabin up in Oregon by Mount Bachelor. My mom had put it up for sale but it was going to be vacant for a month. I saw this as a chance to get away for a while and clear my head in light of all the things going on.
I quit work, packed up my snowboarding gear, grabbed my dog and headed up in my dad’s car (that he had willed to me) to the cabin. My first two days at the cabin were normal and nothing out of the unusual happened. Spent my days playing with my dog in the snow, snowboarding, and the evenings playing PlayStation or listening to music, drinking and smoking out on the balcony.
Had already stocked up on food, cigarettes, and liquor so I was pretty much a shut-in aside from the occasional out to hit the slopes. With my dog Midnight as company and DVDs/PlayStation as entertainment, I was quite content and started to feel relaxed after all the drama that had preceded my outing. The cabin itself was two floors, the bottom story had the living room and a side guest bedroom along with a small kitchen.
Upstairs had another two rooms along with a walkout balcony attached to the master bedroom. Most my time there was spent either in the living room, kitchen, or master bedroom. I never ventured into the other rooms and always kept the doors leading into them shut (open doors to dark rooms always creeped me out). Anyhow, the third day came around and I was going through my usual routine of playing with my dog, playing games and watching DVDs.
That day it was pretty heavy snowfall so I did not feel like trekking down the hill to the main road in my car and decided to stay in. That’s when things started getting a bit weird. In our area, there were only two other cabins adjacent to ours (maybe a block away from each other). All other cabins aside from these two were around a mile away from ours.
Surrounding us was mostly forest and very tall pine trees. Both these cabins were empty and from the past couple of days, I knew that no one was currently staying there. Around midday, while outside with my dog I noticed what looked like footprints in the snow around the area surrounding our cabin. It was still snowing so the footprints looked semi-fresh like someone had been there in the last 20 or 30 minutes before me.
I thought that maybe someone was staying in the cabin near me that I may not have noticed…maybe they were shut-ins like me…alright…whatever, the prints lead away from my cabin and they disappeared in the snow towards the denser part of the trees…disregarded the footprints and went back inside. Nighttime came around and decided to head to bed.
My dog was laying on the bed with me when I noticed his ears perk up to a standstill/listening position. This was followed by him quickly jumping off the bed and running downstairs to the living room. I lay in bed and stayed silent (I was kinda freaked out) and could hear him moving around downstairs back and forth.
After around five minutes he ran back upstairs to me and started to do his doggy dance for the sign that he had to pee or that he wanted to go outside. Shoot…well fine. I can’t say no to him so we both went downstairs to the outside driveway for him to do his thing. Only, he didn’t want to pee. As soon as we were outside he started to pull on his leash trying to drag me to where he wanted to go.
He kept looking into the dense part of the trees where the prints had been earlier. But he also kept sniffing the side of the house and looking up towards the roof. After he figured out that I was not going to go to where he wanted he sat himself down and just stared into the darkness…a bit unusual for him but alright, maybe there are forest animals out there that he wants to chase down.
I did not want to chance anything so I pulled him back inside and we both headed back upstairs. Around half an hour later, I was lying in bed when I heard what sounded like hooves walking on my roof. It was only a series of around six steps and I rationalized that it could be a pine cone falling from a tree onto the roof or maybe a kind-hearted forest animal running around.
But here’s the thing, the steps seemed to be spaced apart like a man length stride. It was really freaking me out. Midnight also heard the noise and was quick to run to the balcony screen door expecting for me to let him out. Alright, you know what, I’m a tough guy and at the time considered myself to be fairly well built and strong enough to handle myself.
So, I grabbed my coat and shoes along with my cigarettes and flashlight and went out onto the balcony. Screw it right? As soon as I was outside I lit up my cigarette and started canvassing the roof with my light…nothing there and the snow on top was undisturbed. Weird, must have been all in my head? What about the dog hearing the noise?
Maybe he was feeding off my fear or paranoia. I started to calm down and relax again. My eyes started to adjust to the darkness and I kept smoking and just staring at the stars and trees next to our cabin. That’s when I saw it. In a tree that was a little taller than our cabin and around 20 feet from the balcony, I saw what looked like a man crouched in a squatting position between two branches.
It was squatted on one branch and its arms were extended above its head holding onto the branch above it. Screw me…what the heck is that? I wasn’t sure if I was really seeing this thing and stood just staring and sat there motionless. I noticed the dog stand up and start pacing behind me and lightly barking at the same time.
The thing still did not move. I put my cigarette out and was debating on shining the light in the thing’s direction, but something in my head kept screaming not to. So I walked backward to the inside of the room and pulled the dog with me. Once inside I locked the door and shined the light in the thing’s direction but there was nothing there.
I shut the curtains to the screen door and retreated back to bed. But later on in the night, I heard light tapping at the screen door, like someone was tapping on the glass with their fingers. It was consistent and did not stop for nearly an hour. Midnight seemed to stare at the door but he wouldn’t go near it anymore. The weirdest part was that I had a feeling like someone was inviting me to open the door.
But at the same time, I kept hearing my dad’s voice in my head telling me to stay in bed and not do it. I listened to my dad’s voice and just stayed where I was. I passed out eventually and woke up in the morning and everything was normal. The rest of the week I spent there was non-eventful and nothing else out of the ordinary happened.