I worked a small time park maintenance and upkeep job a few years back for a local park. It’s no Yellowstone, but I grew up there, hiking the hills and exploring the forests. When I got offered a job working there I took it without a second thought, even though it didn’t pay well – just my way of giving back to the park.
I have more than a few stories from my time there, trekking about with a shovel and saw for whole days at a time, but my favorite tale comes from a co-worker of mine, who I knew as Mikhael. Mikhael had a particular nickname among my fellow crewman – The Count. This was, as far as I could tell, in reference to his angular European face and dark black hair. The Count was around 50 or so when I met him, and yet he had such a love for the forest that he stayed in his part time volunteer job.
The Count was a very kind and gentle man – he would help out with anything you asked, was always kind and compassionate. Of all the things I remember about the Count, one thing that’s always stuck was his love of telling tales of adventures in his home county of Poland. His passion for said stories are part of why I log and spread them as much as I do today. The Count told, no pun intended, countless stories, and many of them I can recall somewhat. Only one of them has really stuck with me all these years later, and it was the last one he ever told me.
I have always been somewhat of a wanderer, if something catches my interest I tend to wander away from the group or my family. This has led to many close calls and near emergencies throughout the years. One such instance happened in the summer when I was ten or eleven, hiking with my older brothers in a State Park forest.
I can’t quite remember what caught my eye and caused me to stop walking with them. It was probably either a large butterfly or a praying mantis. Anyway, I got off the trail and pursued the insect. Eventually I lost sight of it. I went to turn around and head back to the trail, but I didn’t see the trail, nothing looked familiar! So I did something really stupid, I continued on ahead, figuring that I would come across a hiking trail at some point and try to find an adult who could help me locate my brothers.
I saw several small deer-trails, some of which I followed, only to lead to dead ends. I kept walking and no matter how far I walked I could never seem to find a hiking trail. After what must have been several hours, I gave up and sat under a large pine tree which formed a sort of shelter with it’s long branches. I remember crying at the thought of never seeing my brothers or family ever again, that no one is going to find me out here, you know how kids catastrophize things.
High up on the moor, on the border between Yorkshire and Lancashire, there sits an old building called the Stoodley Pike Monument (pronounced stud-lee). It’s an imposing structure, which can be seen for miles.
Essentially, it’s a big stone cube topped with an obelisk. Inside the monument is a staircase which leads up to a viewing platform on the top of the cube section, which gives you maybe an extra 40ft height to view the surrounding countryside.
It’s a place I’ve been to plenty of times, but recently I ended up hiking around that area with a friend who hadn’t seen it before. So we took a quick diversion to climb the pike and look at the monument at the top.
I went for what was going to be my first solo backpacking trip. I had called ahead to the ranger station to confirm there was a water source near where I planned on camping and they said there was. I arrived at the trailhead around 6:00AM on a sunny Tuesday. I wasn’t the only car at the trailhead but the Monument 83 trailhead is shared by the more popular Monument 78 trailhead (The Canada-end of the Pacific Crest Trail). I hoisted on my 35-pound pack and set out on the 9.6-mile hike. Around 6.5 miles in I passed a creek but since there would be water at the top, I didn’t refill my bottles. The road-trail ended and the real trail started. The trail was now much steeper and I drank more water. I arrived at the Monument 83 fire lookout with just two cups of water left and no water source. I walked in several directions but found nor heard any water. I changed my plans to stay back at the creek after a break at the lookout. I noticed the door to the lookout was open and I could hear voices from inside. The lookout is for emergencies only but since this was the year of the Farewell Creek Fire and the entire sky to the Southeast was black with smoke, I assumed someone was staffing it. I called out for permission to climb the tower. There was no response. I realized it wasn’t voices I was hearing but a radio repeater and thought maybe the last people to visit the lookout had failed to close the door. I climbed the tower but the trap door to the catwalk was closed. It wasn’t locked but it wouldn’t budge. That meant it had to be blocked from above. I realized whoever was in the lookout likely didn’t have permission to be there and obviously wasn’t friendly. I became as quiet as possible as fear raced through me. It dawned on me I was a solo female hiker, unarmed, on a deserted trail and 9.6 miles from a road. I left very soon after that. I stopped at the water source to fill my bottles. I’d been rationing water for a while and then ran out and guzzled about 4 cups. I drank too quickly and immediately felt sick. I sat on a log while my stomach accepted the water and tried to figure out where to pitch the tent. As the nausea faded the fear came back. I KNEW I had to get out of there! I was only three miles from the lookout and whoever was up there could be at my camp in less than an hour. I imagined being awoken to my tent unzipping and knew I wouldn’t be strong enough to fight off an attacker. I hiked back to the truck. I ended up hiking 19.2 miles in one day with a full backpack. I stayed at a nearby campground and nursed my silver dollar-sized blisters. I’m not sure anything would’ve happened to me but everything about that situation felt off and I’m glad I trusted my gut!
This incident has happened more than once. Now you might remember my last story, About the demon Panther well,
Appearantly I’ve been having more experiences with this strange cat, I will probably tell the other stories at another time, my FOR now this is my second story, I am a Junior in Collage now, and I was on my Christmas break with my girlfriend well call her Jasmine, she’s a Senior in my collage now,
So it’s been about 3-4 years since the incident and life is pretty good, I have a new cat named Jasper, he is the son of my last cat Cheetah who died last year, and is still greatly missed. But anyways let’s get to the story shall we.
It was just before Christmas Eve of 2016, I don’t live that far from my collage so my girlfriend and I usually just drive there. Anyways my girlfriend and I were waking it, it was probably 7:00 in the morning,
This encounter took place in 2010. My boyfriend and I were in our mid-twenties. It was summertime. We were lucky enough to get time off work at the same time, so we decided to spend a couple nights at my family cabin. The cabin is located in Northwestern Ontario, Canada, in a remote area about 40 minutes away from the nearest town. It’s on a medium sized lake surrounded by dense forest. There are only 20 cabins on the lake, spread out quite far from each other. We were there in the middle of the week, so there weren’t many people on the lake. I should mention that the cabin is on an island.
Our plan was to get there Tuesday night and leave Thursday morning. We arrived and spent the first night without incident. On Wednesday, we took the canoe out for a short ride. We parked it on the mainland and went on a hike down an old logging road. The road hasn’t been driven down in years. It’s overgrown and as far as I know people only use it for blueberry picking now, but it goes into the bush for quite a few kilometers. The two of us hiked down the road for 2 hours, sat down for a small lunch, then decided to turn back. On our way back, I couldn’t shake the heavy feeling that we were being watched and followed. It only occurred to me then that if anything bad were to happen to us, no one was coming to help. In hindsight, we should have told someone about our hiking plans, just in case, but it was too late for that. I tried my best to dismiss how I felt and didn’t even mention it to my boyfriend.
We found the canoe where we had left it tied up. We got in and started paddling home. I was in the back of the canoe, steering. I couldn’t help but turn around and look behind us. The first time I did so, I thought I saw a large shadow move in among the trees a short distance from where we had parked the canoe. When I looked back the second time, I saw nothing. I immediately dismissed what I saw. I reminded myself that your eyes can easily play tricks on you when looking into the shadows of a densely packed forest.