Epic scare on the Pacific Crest Trail

This epic scare is Larry's encounter, which took place on November 1, 1978.

The long Indian summer was going into November and we were heading up the Pacific Crest National Trail from Cascade Locks, south towards Mount Hood. It was about 3 P.M. when my friend who we will call A for privacy purposes, anyway we were completing the switchback as the trail leveled out on Benson Plateau. I was having the creeped out feeling of being watched. As I turned back, I could see the fear in A's eyes. We had gained about 4500 feet over the last 4 hours and covered about 10 miles.

We came upon a 15' x 15' matted down area that looked like a bed down area for deer. There were hundreds of pulled up young fern shoots spread across the area as well as dozens of 2"-3" size piles of a green gelatin matter that had strands of darker greens running through them. The smell was so powerful it nearly knocked me off my feet. The smell was like a wet dirty dog that had just rolled in cow shit and rotting garbage and was sitting on my face! It seemed to permeate off the ground like a gas.

We stood there in the middle of this....taking it all in. Feeling like something was looking clear through us, semi frozen in fear for what must have been 10 seconds. A sudden snapping-cracking sound from the thick trees, caused us to jump and scurry on our way! All around the clearing, had been thick stands of young Douglas Fir trees that were 10'-12 high and 4"-5" in base diameter. It was one of the trees being snapped in half like a match stick that had made the loud crack! This thick stand of trees was continuous and solid along the entire west side (our right), side of Benson Plateau. And on our left (the east side) the trees were intermittent, with long open areas that enabled us to see clearly to Woolley Horn Ridge.

We were now being hurried along by whatever it was, as we hiked briskly to the south. We could hear the sound of something crashing through the thick trees behind us and over our shoulders about 25-30 feet away like it was following us. Whenever we slowed our pace, the crashing sound would cease for a few seconds, only to be quickly followed by a loud cracking of another tree being snapped in half. This pattern continued for over and hour as we crossed Benson Plateau. After a good hour of the crashing through the trees and the fast pace of our beating hearts, the sound abruptly stopped and we slowed our pace. Soon after though, we could hear a more distant sound of crashing through the woods, only this time it was below us and moving away to the SE.

As we moved towards the south edge of Benson, a lesser ridge rose up and paralleled us starting a t a distance of a 1/2 mile and angling towards us to come within 1/4 mile. The spine of this ridge was lined solidly with tall bleach white, 6-7 foot stumps. It was on this ridge that I got a good glimpse of what was following us. We were still moving along with haste, being driven by fear, fueled by an intense adrenaline, when we heard the snapping and cracking sounds from this very ridge. The sounds shadowed us as I became aware of movement out of the side of my eyes moving along on the far side of the stumps. I was so afraid to look... It was then the the trail widened for a bit just before it dropped down off Benson Plateau. A came up along side of me. When I looked over to him, I saw the head and shoulders of the creature that appeared to be 2 or 3 feet above the tops of the tree stumps.

This moment was by far the most intense moment in my entire life! It was starting to get dark. We had nowhere to run and nowhere to hide. As far as we knew, the closest road, telephone post or house was still 15 miles away. At this moment, I transcended my fear and began to look for a flat place to pitch our tent.

As we descended off the plateau, the trees got taller and it became increasingly darker. Luckily, we found a place just big enough to pitch the tent. Without saying any words, we put it up and quickly got inside. We had barely spoken since the ordeal began. We just laid there side by side, both white as ghosts, with our eyes bugging out in complete silence. This silence was soon broken by approaching footsteps. I turned my head towards A, the whites of his eyes could be seen starring straight up. As it approached closer, I started to experience a phenomena that I had felt earlier, whenever the creature had gotten especially close. It was as if a beam was being fired through my body, coming through the creature and passing through me. Now, the footsteps, though clearly audible, were much more subtle as they circled the tent. Around and around THEY went. Starting out at a distance of 50 or 60 feet and slowly getting closer and closer. As the creature got closer, the pulsating beam would intensify. As the creature continued to circle and get closer, reaching as close as what must have been about 20 feet, we could almost feel a bass drum sensation passing through our bodies that must have come from the shear weight of the creature walking on the nearby ground. I don't think the creature ever got any closer than 20 feet from the tent, but it continued to circle, pacing always in a non stop clockwise pattern around us staying primarily between a 20 and 50 ft from us at all times. We both just laid their all night long petrified of what would happen next.

After about 10 hours or so, as first light was beginning to appear, we could tell that the creatures were becoming more distant, until we could no longer hear them. It was almost as though the air had been cleared. A and myself, still not saying a word to one another, slowly emerged from our tent. We quickly packed up and resumed our decent to Wahtum Lake, which we finally reached by mid morning on November 2, 1978. When we reached Wahtum Lake camp area, we reset our tent. We were both so mentally and physically exhausted that we both fell asleep by noon and we did not wake again to the following morning of November 3rd. We awoke to a white landscape with heavy snowfall. The terrifiying Indian summer of 1978 had come to an abrupt end.


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