I used to go camping. Almost all the time, really. Whenever my parents would suggest it, I remembered I would always get so excited. Needless to say, after this experience, I am not so keen on taking a trip into the wilderness.
To clarify, I was almost thirteen by the time of this story. I am currently a couple of months away from 21. The only reason I am sharing this story, is due to the fact one of my closest friends suggested we take a trip there over the weekend. Needless to say, I adamantly said no. Now , before I get too off track, let’s get to this.
As I said before, I was thirteen when I went on this camping trip over the summer. It wasn’t your normal one, it was actually a large gathering of families that traveled up to Highcliff. It was a trip for the rehab my mother was attending. Specifically for the patients who were near the end of their recovery. Truthfully, despite what I experienced I was so proud of her, and I was happy that the trip on her part was magical.
Anyways, the first few days it was no big deal. I was just peeved over typical things any lazy preteen would hate; and that was walking for miles on end on gravel roads to various sights– all while my mother had fun and my father wad tortured with watching me and my brother who we’ll call Turk. To this day I applaud him for putting up with it.
Regardless, the first week was fun. Since Highcliff is in Wisconsin, and on the edge of Lake Winnebago, there were some definite gorgeous sights. Seeing boats in the water from huge towers, looking through the woods at limestone walls and cliffs. It was truly beautiful. But I guess that’s where it gets you.
The night everything changed for me was the first day of the second week. It was about 6:30 pm. My dog Sophie wanted a wall and my mother was busy at a group activity. My dad and my brother were lounging around the campsite for the group and working on gutting some fish for dinner.
I opted against interrupting and took Sophie on a walk about a mile to the nature walk which I’d heard about. By the time I got there, it was dark. But I didn’t mind. The moon was almost full and it hung high that night despite a little bit of some overcast clouds.
Sophie walked ahead of me by a few feet considering I didn’t put her on a leash. She was always well behaved so I never worried about her running off. She was a purebred husky and trained to be a show dog. I didn’t have a doubt about her staying close. We both walked for a good 15 or so minutes before hitting the end of the nature walk, which met to a cliff with an opening displaying the lake, that even had a natural limestone bench for me to sit down.
For a few moments I just sat there watching the lake. A few people were sailing on its now still waters and if I squinted I could see a few docking for the night. I didn’t really notice anything was wrong until I noticed Sophie stand and growl to my left, directed at the woods.
I couldn’t see what she could, but the hair a long her spine rose above the rest, ears down, tail lowered. It was a warning stance to keep away. I called but she didn’t listen. I got up and shouted at her.
“Sophie! Come here!” Again, no regard was given to my presence. I went up to touch the scruff at her neck and she barked at me, as if to tell me not to distract her, eyes trained on the woods the whole time.
I strained through the dark, but I still couldn’t see. My hand flew to the small pocket flashlight I’d shoved into my jeans and whipped it out turning it on.
It took me a few moments but when I found what she was barking at, my blood went cold. It was a good hundred or so feet away, but it was a pallid white, almost grey and opalescent tone to the creatures skin. I couldn’t see it’s face because of how tall it was, but I could see it’s feet and hands. . . They were like long and sharp claws, with no real way to discern where the nail began and flesh did. And it’s feet, or more. . . Hooves, dug into the soil.
I moved the flashlight more, and found it was dirty. Very much so, covered in whay I assumed dirt and other things. When it moved, I felt the tightening in my throat grow more apparent and I shuddered. That also spurred Sohphie to charge at the thing. I couldn’t catch her collar quick enough, it scrapped against my fingers maybe even giving some sort of fabric burn from her speed.
I couldn’t help but feel a twinge of anger under all the fear. Besides her I was all alone, Sophie was my sole comfort in this horrorshow. And now, there I was standing in the dark, in the woods all alone. I didn’t dare move but I knew I had to find my dog. If I didn’t my parents would kill me. So, with tears pouring down my cheeks, my quivering voice called for her.
“Sophie? Sophie! W-where are you girl?” No response. At least not for a few seconds. I heard a distant whimper. She was in there with that thing. Now, I am not a brave woman by any means. Even if I am a horror buff I am easily spooked. I get scared easy. This was no exception.
I hesitantly charged into the barrier the large canopy of trees created and frantically searched, sure to keep a sight line on the nature walks path. I walked about two or three hundred feet before I quite literally stumbled upon Sophie. She was cowering and whimpering behind a shrub, licking herself.
With a quick movement of my flashlight I saw there was a long if not deep scratch on her leg. It wasn’t horribly deep but it was enough to cause concern for me, and it might even hobble her.
This idea scared the hell out of me even more when I heard a voice. It was distorted and low, but it sounded like some odd playback from a record. . . Of my voice.
“W-where are you girl?” It was close. In front of me. I looked up and made eye contact with that thing. I could see what would or should be it’s face. But it looked like an animals skull on its huge and lanky body. I shouted at Sophie and she struggled to stand.
You know how there’s that trope with adrenaline? It’s true. I dove onto my hands and knees scooping up Sophie into my thin arms, ditching the flashlight and turned heel. I didn’t think I was gonna make it. At 13 years old, I was a chubby and short unfit girl. Even so, I somehow managed to lift a 70 pound dog of almost pure muscle and charge out of there onto the path.
I could hear branches snapping under the fast movements and weight of that monster as I ran. My legs and lungs burned. I wanted to stop, but I knew I couldn’t. It was right on my heels. I didn’t know how long I would be running for. It was night, hardly anyone but the camps rangers would be out. Not to mention the distance from my camp, and lastly, the distance I had to Sprint to the gravel road and out of the nature walk.
I really don’t know how, I don’t know why it didn’t catch me and Sophie. It had such a huge advantage. It was faster than me, my dog was hurt and no one else was there to help me. Even so, the second my feet slammed into gravel, I heard the thing stop inches on the road, it’s horrifying gaze never leaving me…
And then, after several moments that felt like hours, it backed up in a crawling stance then turned, and retreated back into the woods after a long road. Probably out of frustration or a warning. I have no idea.
Even so, I trudged back to my campsite crying. Everyone was gathered around their campfires winding down for the evening. Apparently, I did have some one looking for me.
When I arrived one of the older ladies scolded me for running off saying my parents were out looking for me. That they took the truck and went to the rangers station. Of course, how ironic is it that they would be out hunting for me after this.
After I frantically apologized, she realized, or more, acknowledged by disheveled state, and my dogs injury. She changed from the typical hardass to a sweet old lady.
She had me set Sohpie down and cleaned her up asking what happened. I could only think of one lie. One I thought was horrible but I had to come up with something.
“I went to the nature walk. And played fetch with her. She must have bumped into something sharp and got hurt.”
She didn’t pry. I was clearly upset and claimed to be tired. Which was true. How couldn’t I be after that? The second Sophie was taken care of, she limped into my family’s tent and climbed onto my cot curling up to sleep.
After scarfing down some fish and a smore I went to sleep considering it was about 8 or 9 at the time. That night, it rained. Hard. Even with the tarp my father put up for insurance, rain still seeped through the cloth cieling over me. It wasn’t Sohphie who woke me but the loud downpouring of the rain and the drips that hit my face. I sat up kicking my feet onto the floor and quickly withdrew them back into my warm blankets. Water was flooding up through the floor of the tent. And with a quick look with my tents lantern, I could see a good 2 or so inches bubbling up.
I shivered and laid down trying to will myself back to sleep. Unfortunately, that wouldn’t happen. Even through the clattering of breaking branches, I heard a twig snap. I didn’t think much until the constant flashing of lightning revealed a long and gangly shadow.
I instantly knew what it was when my dog cowered, burying her about in my shaking hands. It was on my left side, right next to where my cot was, in the corner. I quietly sobbed, and sunk into the covers.
It just. . Stood there. It’s breathing ragged and slow, maybe even calculated. For minutes I sat frozen with nothing but a sheet of polyester fabric as a barrier between me and it. I cried silently, cold hard fear striking me into my core.
Then, thankfully, the couple adjacent to me stirred. The man’s girlfriend shrieked. I thought she saw it for a second until I heard her yelling about how their tent was floating and flooded.
For whatever reason, the creature stirred and left. I’m guessing it was because it realized there were more people here than just me and whomever else was in my tent. I watched it leave– well, listened for it to leave.
When it dis I slammed into my bed and hugged onto Sophie for dear life. Somehow I fell back asleep.
From then on, I was a shut in for the rest of the trip, if that was even possible to do while camping. I didn’t leave the campsite unless absolutely necessary and always took care to have at least one other person with me along with my dog.
By the end of that week I was so happy to pack up and go. I never wanted to go back and I thought I never would.
I didn’t know what the thing was until a few years later when I heard a narration of another true story about a Wendigo and what it looked like. And somehow I survived one.
But now, at twenty, I’m taking the chance this weekend with my best friend to spend Saturday there. Wish me luck, I have a feeling I’ll need it guys.