Jan 30

The lurking continued

Patrick writes “In December of 2009 I had just been released from a job that I can really best describe as abusive, and as liberating as that was, I was now unemployed for the first time in nearly 20 years. Still, I had no intentions of letting this unfortunate circumstance define my family’s Christmas season. I wanted to make it memorable. My wife and I decided to take our family to the forest to cut our own Christmas tree for the first time. It was Monday, December 7.

After some morning appointments we loaded everyone into our champagne colored ’99 Suburban; my wife Denita, eight and a half months pregnant, daughters Anita, age 12, and Victoria, 9, sons Ben, 7, and Joshua, 4, and our exchange student from Hong Kong, Ka Sun, 17. We left for the Little Naches River area, stopping off at the Naches Ranger Station for our tree cutting permit. A very, very cold front had moved over the region and temperatures were in the single digits, but the snowfall this season had been very light. Taking State Route 410 into the Cascades, we passed the community of Nile, then Cliffdell, and ultimately turned right onto Little Naches River Road and drove in several miles. During winters with adequate snow, the Forest Service uses a plow to construct a berm on this road a few miles in, but so far this winter there had not been enough snow to construct such a barrier. What snow had fallen just covered the ground. We were able to drive in quite a bit farther than I expected and eventually we turned right, away from the river, onto a forest service road. A few hundred yards up that road we came to a wide flat meadow that sloped up into a hill. I turned the Suburban around and parked. We all got out, except for my wife, Denita.

The frozen snow-covered meadow opened in front of us as we gathered on the driver’s side of our vehicle. There were trees all around the meadow and I was sure we could find an acceptable specimen there somewhere. I was armed only with my trusty bow saw as we ventured en masse into the meadow to begin searching its perimeter.

Walking into the meadow with the hill rising to our left, we noticed a small bench, or ledge, about half way up, and on that bench a campsite which appeared to be abandoned. Two dome tents still standing defined the site. I was initially reluctant to approach the camp because I was afraid it might be an illicit drug manufacturing site, and I also because have an irrational and unnatural fear of finding a dead body, but after a moment of uncertainty I overcame my fear and went up into the campsite. I didn’t see any signs of drug manufacture so I let the kids come up with me.

Miscellaneous gear was scattered about on the ground. The sleeping bags were still in one tent, pulled halfway out the door, with the sleeping pads still underneath them. The other tent held only a 50 pound bag of dry dog food laying flat in the center of the tent floor; that bag had been torn open from the middle of the front of the bag, as if it had been opened by poking right in the middle and then peeled back in all directions. I did not notice any claw marks or shredding of the bag; it was just peeled back. It appeared to have been fed on by one or more animals.

I wondered about what would make someone bug out and abandon their gear like this. I imagined various scenarios but tentatively settled on a medical emergency. Still, why wouldn’t they come back or send someone back to get their tents and sleeping bags, or just grab them as they left? It really was eerie.
After looking around at the gear, tents, sleeping bags, and dog food, and checking for bodies, we left the abandoned campsite went back to hunting our Christmas tree. We did find some mountain lion tracks nearby in the frozen snow; these tracks had been made when the snow was fresh and soft, but had since turned to ice, and I surmised that they were quite old.

I wondered if the big cat had scared the campers, likely hunters, away, but that didn’t make any more sense to me than the medical emergency scenario.

We weren’t finding the ideal tree that we had hoped for and the kids were getting chilled to the bone in the bitter cold. We all went back to the Suburban as the kids needed to get in and warm up, but I was committed to getting a tree. We had come too far to go home empty handed. I told my clan that I would go get one up the road past where I had parked and find something we could bring home to decorate. Victoria immediately volunteered to come with me. After everyone else was back in the vehicle getting warmed up, Victoria and I turned to walk further up the snow packed road to find an acceptable tree. Dopotutto, iniziando a scommettere su eventi sportivi o lanciare slot machine per veri investimenti personali, una persona vuole capire non solo la percentuale della probabilità di vincita, ma anche la possibilità di un prelievo sicuro e onesto dei fondi ricevuti dal gioco. Casino non AAMS Paypal : se stai cercando un casinò online che offra depositi facili e prelievi veloci di denaro reale, sceglierne uno che accetti Paypal è probabilmente l’opzione migliore in questo momento. Data la popolarità di questo marchio, ci sono molti casino non AAMS online che accettano questo metodo di pagamento.

The forest was quiet, which I attributed to the single digit temperatures. The rodents and bears were hibernating, most song birds and raptors had gone to the lowlands to winter, and deer and elk had scattered during hunting season. We talked quietly as we walked. The road was cut into the hillside and curved around the contour of the hill to our right; the Suburban soon was out of sight as we rounded the bend. Victoria and I watched for an acceptable and accessible tree along the downhill side of the road. Finally finding a tree I thought would suffice, I began cutting, despite Victoria’s advice to me throughout the cutting process that the tree was too tall.

Moments later the tree was cut, and alas, it was, in fact, too tall. I told Victoria I should have listened to her and that we would leave this tree for the forest to reclaim. We began our tree search anew.

We walked several yards up the road and I spotted another tree. It would do. I stepped off the downhill side of the road to start the cut while Victoria stayed up on the frozen roadbed. The hill ran down to a creek, about 50 feet below us. The creek was overgrown with vine maple and various saplings and bushy undergrowth. As I started the cut, though, I became aware of something or someone below us in the bushy creek bottom. I could hear sticks cracking, as if whatever or whoever it was was just lurking around. I knew this was not a natural animal behavior; wild animals will, predators and prey alike, try to escape from the presence of humans immediately. This creature had no such instinct, and it was not lost on me that there was a reason for at the very least, caution. I wondered if it was a person, but there were no other cars in the area. In fact, we had seen no other vehicles at all since leaving SR 410.

It was, after all, 4 degrees Fahrenheit. I also thought that if it was a person, this would be a great way to get shot at or possibly killed, and anyone who would go out into the forest in the dead of winter would or should know not to sneak around on other people in such a manner; its just not done. It was an unsettling situation, but my single-minded determination to take home a tree was overriding any sense of danger. I cautioned Victoria to stay alert, pointing out that the cracking sticks were certainly something that did not fear us. She agreed. With our senses heightened, I continued to saw at the tree while Victoria watched for movement below us in the creek bottom. The lurking continued. We continued to discuss the circumstance, talking quietly, all the while sticks continued to crack below us. I realized then that this person or animal was, in all likelihood, not just caring less about our presence but actively watching us. My discomfort increased, but I did not want to panic my daughter. The lurking continued, albeit not very stealthily. I was almost done cutting.

Then it whistled. I’ve been in the woods a great many times. I’ve never known of a wild thing to whistle, let alone call attention to itself. This wasn’t right. It was at this point when the ever curious Victoria urged me to whistle back. Apparently I was doing a stellar job concealing my nervousness about the current situation, but that soon changed. I told her I couldn’t whistle just now and that we had to go. The tree was cut. I had her walk just ahead of me and I watched our backs I dragged the tree while imagining myself fighting off a wild beast with my bow saw. We hastened our way back to the relative safety of the close proximity to our vehicle. I got everyone back into the Suburban and tied the tree to the luggage rack as quickly as I could. I couldn’t help but sense that we were still being watched until we drove from the area.”

9 Responses to “The lurking continued”

  1. Stephanie G

    First, that was a really scary story. I’m glad you’re safe. Second, though, I want to commend you on how well written, well punctuated, and well spelled it was. Thank you. It is so much easier to read and understand when a little care is taken. If I’d been your English teacher I would have given you an A+!

  2. cyndie r

    2 Kudos, a question and an observation… response requested

    Yes, thank you for a well written piece.
    Thank you also for being a host family to a foreign exchange student.
    I am curious to know if you believed sasquatch existed in our forests before this incidents?
    I feel as though it was a changing point in your life. Am I right?

  3. Christopher N

    I really do have to agree with Stephanie G. It was very well written and it makes stories so much easier to read. I really am impressed with your courage in front of your daughter. I don’t know a whole a lot about the woods or the forest but what I do know is how terrified I’d be in the situation. Great encounter Wes, thanks for posting it.

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