This happened when I was 12 years old and spending the summer with my aunt Maria, uncle Joseph and two cousins in California. The summer I spent with them was a lot of fun as it was my first time in California and I can say my time spent with them was a lot of fun. I got to bond with my cousins, learned a few songs in Hebrew (Joseph is Jewish and at the time he was teaching my cousins Hebrew to prepare them for their Bar mitzvah), went to universal studios, Lego land, sea world, it was a whole lot of fun. But there was one incident that occurred that I first thought was a bit peculiar, but four years later when I found out what truly happened I could never look at the Redwoods the same way ever again.
Along with the numerous trips to theme parks we also went camping in the Redwood forests with another family Maria and Joseph were good friends with. Now the mother of that family is important to this story so let’s call her Rosa. We stayed at this national park where Rosa’s family rented a cabin, but Joseph wanted us to be closer to nature and rented a tent that was a good 10 minute walk through the forest from the cabin. Which isn’t so bad in the day time when you can admire the awe inspiring, majesty of the hundred foot tall, centuries old, redwood trees, with the sunlight streaming through the branches of the forest canopy, but it’s a whole different story once it’s pitch dark and your trudging through the area trying not to trip on a branch while shining your flashlight around you as you attempt to keep up with the rest of the group.
And so after a day of hiking we were hanging at the cabin as usual, eating dinner, laughing, playing board games, the whole shebang. Of course the time came for me, Maria, Joseph and my two cousins to walk back to our tent in the dark. So we said our goodbyes, grabbed our stuff, turned on our flashlights and began our journey to the tent. That particular day I was more exhausted than usual and as a result I was at the back of our group and lagging behind a bit. I’d say we were about 3 minutes into our walk when I heard a very faint voice behind me say,
I stopped for bit, wondering if I really heard someone calling my name or if I was just succumbing to my fatigue and imagining things, but then I heard it again.
It was clearer this time, a bit louder and I could’ve sworn it sounded like Rosa’s voice.
I turned around a shone my flashlight in the direction I heard it, calling out Rosa’s name, asking if she was there. Then I heard it again.
It definitely sounded like Rosa’s voice. But I was just confused as I couldn’t figure out why she would’ve followed us into the forest at night. But then I figured maybe one of us forgot something and she was returning it to us, we were only three minutes away from the cabin so it wouldn’t take that long to reach where we were if you ran fast enough. With that reason in mind I started walking towards the direction I heard it, but no matter where I shone my flashlight I couldn’t find her.
“Rosa? Where are you? ”
Again I heard it.
This time I stopped in my tracks, there was something wrong.
I stood there frozen as the voice spoke again, it definitely came from in front of me, but this time any thoughts I had about it being Rosa were gone. It sounded like her, but it sounded off. The best way I can describe it is as if Rosa was talking through an old T.V or broken radio. It was static-y and distorted.
I could feel there was something in front of me, hiding from my flashlight, but it didn’t feel human.
One thing you should know about me is that I can sort of sense spirits around me, nothing to the extent of pinpointing where exactly one is or knowing its specific intentions but enough to know when something is near me or within my general area. If the spirit is powerful enough or if I’m around it enough I can tell whether its intentions are good or not. This was one of those cases when I could tell the ‘not’ part was more likely than the good.
The thing didn’t feel close, but I could tell that it was within enough distance that if I took just a few more steps forward it wouldn’t be my brightest idea. But contrary to what you’re most likely thinking, I didn’t feel scared, just confused. I definitely knew its intentions weren’t to my benefit but for all I knew it could’ve been a mischievous spirit or creature trying to play a prank on me, but I wasn’t too sure…
“Andi what are you standing there for?”
The voice startled me a little as I spun around only to see my aunt Maria lightly jogging towards me, I let out a breath I didn’t even now I was holding in.
She caught up to me, tugging at my arm as we power walked to catch up to my uncle and cousins
“I turned around and I didn’t see you, I thought you got lost or something.”
Under normal circumstances I would’ve responded with a sarcastic remark but I was still in shock about what just happened, so I just mumbled out an apology in spanish, but my aunt must’ve noticed how terrified I looked and stopped.
“Hey are you okay Sweetie? You look like you saw a ghost.”
Seeing no reason to lie to her, I told her what happened, from the voice, to it sounding strange, to the malevolent feeling I got when I walked towards it. You see my family is Mexican and as a result, we’re very superstitious and believed in the supernatural. But not in a “We fear them and demand the spirit leave this room before I shove this rosary down its throat.” way but in a “cool there’s a spirit, just respect it and be nice to it if it tries to interact with you” kind of way, and we often came to each other for advice if we were dealing with something supernatural we didn’t know. I was just hoping that maybe she’d give me an explanation as to what happened or what the creature was but she just shrugged her shoulders.
“Your guess is as good as mine, maybe it was a spirit playing a trick.”
“Yeah I guess…”
I glanced back one last time to see if I could spot anything, and I swear I could see the leg of what looked like a dog disappear back into the shadows.
Needless to say I spent the last 7 minutes of the walk back to the tent between my aunt and uncle.
The next morning while we were making breakfast at the cabin I remembered what happened the night before and asked Rosa if she went out looking for us last night.
“No, after you guys left me and the kids sat on the couch watching the T.V until we fell asleep. Did something happen?”
I told no and to forget I asked. She gave me a weird look but didn’t ask me anything. Later I wondered if Rosa was playing a prank on me and I asked her husband if the Rosa and her kids really fell asleep on the couch after we left and he said they did, he was sitting at the table near the couch reading and that they slept there for at least an hour.
Fast forward four years later and I became close friends with a person who has experience in dealing with the supernatural and other such things like exorcisms, spell casting, summoning and ridding an area of spirits, you name it. We often shared stories about our supernatural experiences and when I told them about my strange experience while camping with my aunt and uncle they said without blinking.
“Oh yeah that was most likely a Skin-walker.”
I little shocked and a bit curious so I asked them how they were so sure.
They explained that Skin-walkers inhabit the southwest and west coast area of the U.S and that they imitated the voices of people their prey know in order to lure them into a false sense of security.
“I’ve had to deal with a few of those shit heads before, a bit of a pain to rid an area off, especially if you’re trying to do it before they kill anyone. They often go for a person lagging behind in a group and try to separate them so they’d be an easy target. You’re lucky your aunt caught up with you and brought you back before it got you, they also tend to take the shape of a dog or coyote so that leg you saw was probably its.”
I felt a chill run down my back as I imagined myself coming face to face with a Skin-walker if my aunt had come to get me just a few minutes later than she did.
Needless to say I don’t think I’ll be camping on the west coast anytime soon.