She Regret It
Regret twirled around inside her head, she now knew that she should never have started the adventure. She shouldn’t have chosen the Pacific Crest Trail.
Her heart felt like it would beat through her chest as she listened to the whispers and footsteps around her tent. She looked down at her phone and gulped. There was no mobile signal in the area. The voices were getting louder and louder. What was she supposed to do?
Tracy Ford was an 18-year-old high school graduate. Like many of her peers, she still wasn’t completely sure of what she wanted to do with her life.
Even though Tracy excelled in school, she felt like there were so many paths available to her that she still needed some time to think about what she wanted from life and make a decision. However, there was one thing that she knew for sure was what she enjoyed the most.
Tracy loved hiking above all things. Her dog Hans was her most loyal companion, and she usually took him with her on most of her trips. She loved the feeling of being all alone in nature, wandering through routes that maybe no one had explored in years.
But that wasn’t all. There was something else behind Tracy’s fascination with hiking, and it was something that she rarely told anyone about.
Throughout the years, hiking helped Tracy’s self-esteem in a way that no other activity or amount of therapy had.
After completing a particularly difficult or unexplored route, she always felt reassured of herself and her capacity to face the unknown, the wild, and the potentially dangerous. Little did she know that she was about to experience the eeriest episode of her life.
Tracy decided that she would take a free year before choosing whether she should start working or get into college. She also figured that the best thing to help her with her decision was to take a long, demanding hike.
It was the best chance to have some time to reflect by herself on her deepest preferences, likings, and aspirations. It would also make her feel more confident and secure in her strengths. However, there was a problem.
What hiking route should she pick? There were so many of them! But this time, she wanted something that really put her to the test; something that forced her to make the most of her willpower and abilities and push herself to the limit.
After doing some research for a few days, she found the perfect scenery for her quest: the Pacific Crest Trail. However, this would turn out to be a choice she would regret forever.
When Tracy told her family about her decision, everyone’s alarms went off. Ask you may know, the Pacific Crest Trail is a 2650-mile trek running from Mexico to Canada. It includes dangerous spots tenths of miles away from any sign of civilization and populated with wild animals.
If something happened to Tracy, she would be all by herself. It was an adventure that could turn dangerous really quickly. Her parents tried to dissuade her from doing it; but she had already made up her mind.
She Set Her Plan Into Motion
So, just two weeks after graduating high school, Tracy did the needed research for her adventure, got herself a detailed map of the area, packed up, and she and Hans got on a bus taking them to the Mexico border, at the beginning of the Pacific Crest Trail.
Tracy’s plan was to go through the entirety of the Trail: she would walk for as long as her body allowed her to, then stop for a bite, then keep walking, and then set up her tent and sleep with her dog somewhere. Little did she know that things were about to get grim.
Everything Seemed Fine
In the beginning, it seemed like Tracy’s journey would go on without any significant complications. For about two weeks, she kept walking and enjoying the beautiful sights.
One day, she stomped on a rattlesnake, and another time she suffered from mild fatigue due to dehydration, but that was about it. Tracy was surprised at how easy and pleasant her hike had been so far. However, that wouldn’t last.
After some time, she arrived at Lassen National Forest. After reading about it, she felt a bit intimidated: it was a large area populated by impressively tall trees pressed tightly together.
If an inexperienced hiker ventured into the forest without the proper sense of orientation, it would be easy for them to get lost in the woods. But Tracy knew what she was getting into, and she would never forgive herself if she lacked the courage to go on. Maybe that was her mistake.
She Saw Something
Tracy and Hans walked for a few miles along a path of dirt flanked by compact, dense masses of trees that rose up to the sky. They couldn’t see anything past the trees: all Tracy could do was follow the path and trust her map and compass.
The girl didn’t expect to find anyone in that area. It was June, and not many hikers ventured into the forest until July and August. But all of a sudden, her dog started barking. She turned around to see what the issue was and what she saw sent a chill down her spine.
As she recounted later, there were two strange-looking men squatting among the bushes, a few feet away from the path, staring at her. They were dressed in what seemed like shabby white robes and had long, unkempt beards.
She was shocked by the sight, but thought it was none of her business what those people were doing there. She ignored them and kept walking, speeding up her pace. After a while, nighttime came, and Tracy and Hans camped in a meadow. And that’s when the problems started.
She Woke Up
It was 3 am when Tracy suddenly woke up from her slumber. The darkness inside the tent was so dense that it barely made a difference whether her eyes were open or closed.
But immediately, something violently hit her senses. Like an announcement of demise, she noticed something in the air that could only mean one thing: things weren’t going right.
A Horrid Smell
It was a foul, putrid smell, so strong and penetrating that it felt like a thousand needles went up her nostrils all the way to her brain. It smelled like decomposing meat or garbage left under the sun for days.
What could that be? She got her hands out of her sleeping bag and felt around her, looking for her dog. That’s when she realized something that made her stomach drop to her knees.
Hans Was Gone
Hans was nowhere to be found! Instantly, Tracy’s heart started galloping. Nothing like that had ever happened before. Usually, when they went hiking, her dog stood by her side for the whole journey. Something was going terribly wrong.
That’s when she started hearing it. Sounds of footsteps began coming from all around her tent. They sounded human. And that wasn’t all. What she heard next made her regret ever stepping into that forest.
She heard what sounded like human whisperings, speaking an incomprehensible language. They were all around her. They were closer and closer by the second.
Quickly, she grabbed her phone, got out of the tent, and ran away, with her heart galloping in her chest and yelling as loud as her lungs allowed her. But in the middle of her frenzy, she realized something.
They Could Hear Her
If she kept yelling, the only people who would probably hear her would be the men who had surrounded the tent. There was probably no one other than her camping in the middle of the forest that late at night.
There was nobody who could save her from the men who came from the dark, who were now chasing after her. Tracy could hear them hollering and screeching. And that wasn’t all.
Closer And Closer
The disgusting odor kept getting more and more intense, as if announcing the unstoppable march of the hounding men, who Tracy could hear stomping behind her, howling and screaming with beast-like hollers.
With her heart in her mouth, Tracy kept running through the bushes, constantly reminding herself that she had to remain quiet if she wanted to live.
She Kept Running
Eventually, the smell and the voices faded out, but Tracy kept running and running. She was entrenched in the forest for hours, marching as fast as her body allowed her to.
The sun rose up, and she kept walking, exhausted, as she tried to find her way out of the forest, praying that she wouldn’t encounter the forest people again.
It took Tracy 12 hours of walking to arrive at the nearest town. It was 8 in the morning when one of the locals saw her dragging her feet across the road, close to fainting.
She was almost dehydrated and had suffered several scratches while running in the woods. The man took her to the closest hospital and called the police. Tracy could not speak for a few hours, but then, she told them her story.
After she told them all about the feral men who had chased her out of the woods and, presumably, kidnapped Hans, an exploration patrol was sent to the area.
Tracy stayed for a few days in one of the local’s houses. She called her family; once they heard about what had happened, they took the first plane to Los Angeles and drove all the way to the town where Tracy was staying. For the whole trip, they were worried out of their minds, praying that Tracy would be okay.
Tears In Their Eyes
As Tracy’s parents walked through the door of the room where their daughter was staying, and they saw her lying on the bed, they couldn’t hold back their tears.
They ran towards her, and the three of them embraced in a heartfelt hug. Just a few minutes later, someone knocked on the door. It was the town’s sheriff. He came with some fateful news.
No trace of Tracy’s possessions or dog had been found in the forest after days of scouting. There were no signs of the presence of any feral man either.
Or at least, that’s what the sheriff said. The case was dismissed as Tracy having an anxiety attack, and no further investigations were conducted. However, to this day, Tracy swears that she was hounded by feral men; and hers hasn’t been the first story of this type.
For dozens of years, there have been plenty of rumors about feral people living in some of America’s National Parks. Although some people choose not to believe the stories and the authorities have remained largely silent about the issue, there are reasons to think that there might be some truth to them.
The first story of this type took place in the Smoky Mountains on the 6th of June of 1969. This is how it happened:
Dennis Martin was spending Father’s Day camping in Spence Field, near the Appalachian Trail, in the middle of the Smoky Mountains National Park. The hiking trip was a family tradition for the Martins.
That day, Martin was with his father William, his grandfather Clyde, and his older brother. They came across another family with two kids the same age as Martin. And that’s when the fateful events took place.
The kids schemed a prank to pull on the grown-ups; they planned to hide among the bushes and surprise them when they least expected it. However, the adults were aware of what the kids were up to.
They played along and turned their backs as the kids ran away to hide behind trees and bushes. Martin also ran away; but he would be the only one to never come back.
The Authorities Step In
After a few minutes, the other kids emerged from the bushes, yelling at their older relatives as they pretended to be shocked. But Dennis didn’t come out. The two families started looking for him. They roamed around the Park for hours and hours, calling his name.
That was the last time anyone saw Dennis. After the alarmed family called the authorities, the National Guard and the Special Forces deployed more than 1,400 searchers, including 71 Green Berets, across a 56-square-mile area. Still, the boy was never found.
The Official Version
The authorities labeled this incident as just another one of the tragic disappearances that sometimes occur in Natural Parks. However, to this day, Dennis’ family believes that the official version is just a cover-up for something way more unnerving.
The family encountered by the Martins reported that, during their search, they had heard a scream and seen a figure running through the woods. At first, they thought it could be a bear. But then they took a closer look.
A Wild Man
It was a disheveled man wearing just a loincloth, running among the bushes, growling and hollering in a beast-like manner. He seemed like he was trying to avoid them.
As the family reported, the thing that impacted them the most was the smell that the man seemed to emit. They described it as being horridly fetid and remindful of spoiled meat. Could that be one of the authors of Martin’s disappearance?
To this day, many believe that Martin was hunted by a group of feral people who live in the Smoky Mountains. Allegedly, the government would know about it, and Green Berets would have been deployed to combat the wild men.
Many people who live near the Mountains swear that they often hear yelling deep in the forest; they also report seeing rudimentary dugouts built at some spots in the Park, imbued with a reeking, seemingly unexplainable smell of rotten meat.
In order to protect the privacy of those depicted, some names, locations, and identifying characteristics have been changed and are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblances to actual events or places or persons, living or dead are entirely coincidental.