"If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?" This mind-boggling question can apply to more than a tree falling in the forest—it can apply to wayward travelers out in the wilderness, too.
The forest can hold terrifying secrets and creatures that are anything but pleasant. If you're out in the woods and see or hear something you can't explain, will people believe you when you survive the event and tell your story?
People on Reddit shared their horrifying close-call encounters in the rugged wilderness that haunt them to this day.
I can’t imagine! Content has been edited.
“We Ignored Our Gut Feeling”
“My boyfriend and I were backpacking through rural Tasmania a few years ago. While on a bus, we were discussing our plans for the ensuing two weeks. The girl in the seat in front turns around and offers us a place to stay in her town. We declined as we were headed elsewhere first, but she gave us her mobile number and said that she and her partner would love to have us.
A few days later we decide to take them up on their offer. We call her, and she says they’re happy to host us. So far so good.
They meet us at the train station and immediately something feels off. It’s really difficult to explain, but it’s that primal, ineffable feeling in your gut that tells you that something isn’t right. We ignored our gut and followed them.
They lead us straight out of town. We ask them where we’re going and they say that they live on the outskirts. This town is creepy. It’s an old mining town that has been largely abandoned, and as we walk the 15-odd minutes to their home the houses get worse, with boarded up windows, overgrown gardens and no people in sight.
Eventually we reach the house at the very end of the town. It’s their house. We go in.
Set up in the middle of the living room is a single mattress with a sheet hanging around it. They show us around the house except for one door which stays closed. When I asked what was behind it they pretended not to hear. Our room has a made bed, chest of drawers and looks like a normal room. It seems weird that they sleep on mattresses in the living room when they have a ‘guest room.’
We go back into the living room and look around. Knives. A lot of knives. My boyfriend asks if they go hunting? No. The partner hands one of the knives to my boyfriend and asks him to open it. It’s a massive bowie knife with what looks like blood staining around the edges of the blade. My boyfriend laughs awkwardly and sets it down.
They have a tattoo machine ‘to practice.’ My boyfriend asks if they have any tattoos. No. There’s a small axe at the door. I ask if they collect wood. No.
Suddenly the guy says he wants to go to the shops. We agree quickly because we’re creeped out and want to get back into the town.
The four of us leave and they start walking in the opposite direction to the town. I say that the town is back the other way. The guy says this way would be more interesting because it goes up through the trees. He says that they have never been up the mountain before but he knows the area and it would take the same amount of time.
I tell my boyfriend that I’m freaking out but he thinks it’s okay. We follow them into the trees. The path goes up the mountain. We are going in the total opposite direction of the town.
The girl turns around to her partner and whispers, ‘So where was the place again?’
My boyfriend and I freeze. I say I want to take the road back to town and start walking.
When the four of us arrive in the one shop in town—no one recognizes the couple. And this is a really small town. We make an excuse that we want to go look at sights and that we’ll catch up with them later, and instead book a hotel room and freak out.
I did some snooping on the area. Their house had an extra room (behind the mystery door) and a basement. The path that we were taking led straight out of town and up the mountain. There was no way it could loop back into town.
So yeah pretty sure we narrowly avoided being murdered. Or maybe they were just massive weirdos.”
“Seeing That Unmistakable Shoulder Crawl Was Haunting”
“I was a boy scout, camping with my group of older buddies and an adult leader in Yellowstone. We had been backpacking for two days and stopped in a beautiful little clearing at the bottom of some huge tree covered hills.
The sun started to set, we made a fire, and I began to climb up into the trees to dig a hole and fill it back up. You know what I mean. As I squat there, basking in moonlight and appreciating the glow of fire among the trees, I looked up to a ridge line a few hundred yards away where the moon was rising, and I saw a huge cougar crest the hill and just watch our fire.
It was likely no danger to me, but seeing that outline, that unmistakable shoulder crawl they do, was haunting. I watched it sit there for a good fifteen minutes until I was called back by my worried buds. I pointed the cat out the them when I got done because it was still just watching us.
“His Response Was Anything But Reassuring”
“My dad and I were walking through the woods when we came across a young moose leg lying on the ground. It looked like it had been violently torn off with no sign of the rest of the moose anywhere. It was fresh with blood still on the wound probably no more than a couple hours old.
My dad is a pretty skilled hunter so he handed me his axe that he was carrying and told me to watch for wolves while he started looking for tracks. After a little bit he came back saying:
‘That’s weird, normally if it was wolves you’d be able to find paw prints but I can’t see any. Also no bear prints so I have no idea what killed this.’
I asked if he found any tracks at all, and his response was anything but reassuring.
‘Well, I did find what appears to be the mama moose tracks headed this way,’ showing me the tracks.
‘You can see how her stride is a lot longer here, whatever killed her baby she didn’t want to fight it so she just took off running’
He then pulls out his
“I Will Never In My Life Forget It”
“About 10 years ago, I was at my dad’s house for the weekend in Kentucky. The Appalachian people are very superstitious, hailing from the Scots-Irish people and just never losing that side of them. My dad wasn’t superstitious, I thought, and was not one to be easily scared. It was about, I dunno, 10 at night and we randomly decided to go into town to get some McDonald’s.
Daddy always insisted on walking in front of me and I always assumed it was so I wouldn’t accidentally step on a snake but now I don’t think that’s the case. So, he turned on the porch light and opened the screen door. He had put one foot on the porch and there was this God awful sound. I will never in my life forget it. There was a screech followed by the sound of a crow. But it wasn’t a crow. The best way I can describe it is if a person was mimicking a crow call.
My hair stood up on the back of my neck and my dad retreated into the house. He slammed the big door and locked it, something I had never seen him do. Before I could ask a question he said, ‘It isn’t safe. We can go tomorrow morning.’
And so we did. But the rest of the night, we stayed inside. My dad didn’t even go outside to smoke. He even let the (outside) dogs stay in the house. We never talked about that again but that was one of the scariest moments of my life.”
“I Kept Seeing What Looked Like Dew Drops”
“This took place in the Australian bush around 10/11 at night.
I was 17, leading a staggered column of about 60 Cadets to our detachment campsite. Due to light discipline rules, it was only myself at the very front of the group and the other flight commander at the rear had torches on. This was so that any vehicles coming along the trail could see us and so that most of the cadets could maintain their night vision (we were camouflaged up and thus difficult to see at night).
As we walked along I periodically looked to my sides, and kept seeing what looked like dew drops on the ground. Almost like tiny blue gems glinting in my torch light either side of the road. I had to maintain my position in the formation, so I couldn’t get a good look at what they were.
However, after a while we stopped for a very brief break, and I took the opportunity to have a closer look. Walking over to the side of the trail I spotted a small cluster of the ‘diamonds’ and focused my head torch on them.
Rather than seeing diamonds or dew drops or anything remotely pleasant, I instead saw a group of about 5 large spiders just crouching in the leaf litter and staring at me. They looked like huntsmans which are about the size of an adults hand. Sweeping my head around, I realized there were thousands of the things. All over the ground, some on the trunks of trees, and everywhere around me; glaring at the light affixed to my head.
I had a very brisk walk back to the formation and attempted to play it cool while screaming in my head. Being a massive arachnophobe, I have no clue how I managed to set up a tent and spend the next week in that cursed forest.”
“I Was Shaking So Badly I Couldn’t Even Speak”
“This was quite a few years ago now. But me and my friend had this really cool spot to hang out in the woods. You had to walk in the middle of a creek for a kilometer and duck through sharp bushes and thistles. The hike was rewarding though. The spot was about half an acre big, pure green grass on an incline with beautiful clear water ponds everywhere. There was tons of wildlife and lots of butterflies lived there.
The story begins on the way to this place. My friend Levi and I were walking along the river on the way to the spot. It was in the middle of a valley and nobody else ever went down there. Suddenly Levi stopped moving and ducked into a bush, I did the same because I thought there must have been a large animal somewhere.
I saw him staring up the hill and so I looked up too. There were two people standing at the top of the hill heaving back and forth a lifeless body. We watched as they threw the lifeless corpse down the hill as it bounced off the trees and eventually got stuck on a tree at the bottom.
Then they took off.
My friend and I were terrified and I was shaking so badly I couldn’t even speak. We decided it would be best to verify it was a real body. Levi got about 4 feet away before screaming, ‘IT HAS NOSTRILS!! ITS REAL!! RUN!!’ We take off running and I glance back to see the two people run back to the top of the hill. We ran through thick brush and trees to get away from them.
The next day we were with his parents driving to town and we saw 10 firetrucks at the school closest to the forest. Terrified, we told his parents, balling our eyes out worried that we were going to get murdered.
His mom started laughing at us and said: ‘They are training for search and rescue, that was a dummy that the firemen had to find.’
I never slept as good as I did that night…”
“It Took Over My Life”
“I was a high schooler mid 90s. I went fishing off the coast of Corpus Christi with my uncle and cousins. We were about 18 miles out. Been out all day. Was around 8pm and were gearing up to head back in. It was before daylight savings time so the sun was already going down and getting dark.
I was at the stern bringing in the traps. As I’m pulling it in, I see this glow about 100-150 feet off. It’s nothing like I have ever seen. That’s the best way I can describe it. It’s like if you stuck a toaster underwater and the orange glowing elements were still working. But still not quite. And it was very large. We were on a 38 ft boat. All I can guess it was 5-6 times bigger.
The water above it is not churning but you can tell that it is disturbing the water, almost like it was pushing the water up. This whole time I’m expecting something to break the surface but nothing happened.
You know like when you’re walking the dog or something at night not really paying attention and a cat or possum runs out? How you freeze and everything stops? That’s how it felt the whole time—like time stopped and I was stuck, completely transfixed.
Finally, I let out a call to my uncle. He comes around stops right by me. He’s not saying anything just kind of like me. This thing—or object—just jets out towards the gulf. It didn’t pick up speed, no, it literally jetted off in the blink of an eye it felt like.
All I say is ‘You seen that before?’
My uncle just says ‘Nope, let’s go.’ I say absolutely nothing the way back in, he doesn’t either. My cousins ask us what happened. All my uncle says is ‘nothing.’
Now what could it have been? I’ve researched it on and off for past 25 years. I’ve found a lot of people seeing something very similar. There is a naval base down there but no sub bases we know about.
It kind of took over my life for a lot of years. I was so obsessed with finding answers, and I still haven’t.”
“We Knew They Were Still Watching Us”
“I come from a village fairly far up in the mountains, the mighty Karakoram Ranges. My village is almost a 2 hour drive through mountain roads and then a mountain trail. The last leg of the journey is by foot, because our village is on a steep mountain side.
I grew up there, and my childhood and adolescence was spent in the jungle that surrounded the village, in the mountain streams.
There were local lore and legends about the forest, which were universally believed to be true.
When I was 19, or so, and was studying at a college in Abbottabad, a few of my friends decided to spend a few days trekking through the mountains. We were most interested to explore a cave, where, the legend says, a mountain spring just disappears. Supposedly, if you were lucky enough to go deep very deep in the cave, there was a gold mine, with sands of gold strewn by the stream. How ever, Djinns—supernatural spirits—are said to guard the place.
So, we gathered at my place, some 3 class fellows, from the city. We were accompanied by 4 more from within my village. Thus, myself included, we formed a party of 8 young men.
I am speaking of 1973. We did not have any maps with us. We knew the general area, knew landmarks, and except for three city guys, all knew how to move about in Jungle, and walk the mountains.
We walked, slept in the open, fished, ate wild fruits, and dried food from home and gossiped as we trekked along. The ascent was steep, unending with jungle all around.
A week later, we entered an area that we had never visited earlier. There were rocks, boulders, small springs and streams, and trees were less dense. We thought that the stream that disappears in to the cave must be around somewhere.
That night we were dog tired, after a very stiff climb, so we took our dinner, laid out our canvasses, and were asleep very soon.
I have no idea how long we slept. I was woken up as I noticed someone brushing my hair. Just as I turned in my sleep and was about to cry out in panic, a hand covered my mouth.
Someone whispered, ‘I am a friend of yours, quiet, shhh, wake up others just as I woke you up, no sound.’ Before I could even ask why, I heard the sound of a woman giggling. Then a low humming sound.
I woke up the next friend, who woke up the next. Soon we all were fully awake, and hearing giggling, woman laughing around and then we heard heavy footsteps in the distance. Someone—or thing—was walking with heavy steps, slowly, but, toward us.
I had a torch on me. I turned it on. All we saw was trees, boulders, rocks, nothing else. It was all quiet.
Fearing that batteries would run out, I turned the switch off. We all huddled closer, packed the canvas sheets, and the bed sheets. Someone said in the darkness to put on our shoes, and make no noise. We just sat together on a moonless night and could not see much since clouds were blocking the starlight.
We could hear the sound of a woman laughing and heavy steps walking around us again. Finally, my patience ran out. I was young, very foolish, and, patience was not my virtue. I said it loud to my friends, ‘I am not sitting like a chicken fearing the knife, let us see who this thing is.’ Surprisingly, everyone agreed.
We decided that if we had to move, we planned to stick very close, and in pairs. One of my friends said, ‘Who are you, show us!’ We turned on the lights, and we saw at least 10-12 things surrounding us.
Not monkeys, even though there are many up there in mountains, but they were not monkeys at all. Not humans, but human-like. Hairy, broad, 6 and 1/2 or 7 feet tall, but, not gorillas. Round, elongated faces, dark hair covered them.
Then, what felt like a moment later, the forest was completely silent. The sound of night in the jungle, insects, birds, wild animals, had stopped. The wind had stopped, it was abnormally silent.
Then I turned my torch on again and the things were gone. However, we all knew they were still watching us. We just knew. I could feel eyes piercing my being even though it was dark. We all agreed that we were being watched very closely and intently.
Another friend took the torch from me and pointed all around us. On a huge boulder, some 20 feet away, stood a giant looking at us. Same appearance as the rest, but far taller. 7-8 feet tall easily. Looking at us. We began to panic. The still air, total darkness, lack of sound, and feeling of being watched got to us.
We were scared if we ran, we would be harmed by the creatures. So we stuck together. Recited verses from Quran. And my friend spoke to the giant, telling him that we came in peace, we will not harm them, and bear no ill intent. Then we heard a giggle, and a woman approached us. She was dressed as a wealthy woman of that area, in mid 40s. Long hair, milky white skin.
She said in softest tone, ‘Do not get any further. We must return.’ Then she disappeared in the night.
Just then, the jungle came back to life. Usual sounds of critters and insects, birds, air flowing through trees, the sound of air as it passes through trees. Strange things were gone.
We stayed there waiting for the day break and returned.
Now I am 65 years old. I am a grandfather. I have seen many places. I do not know what we encountered. But I do know I never returned and I’ll never forget what I saw that night.”
“No One Believed Us”
“I went on a mountain hike in Transylvania with a group of friends from school, and way up, after maybe 12-14 km of trekking, we saw a house in the middle of nowhere. It had a barn, with a few animals, couple of cows, chicken, etc. As we get closer, we see a few people, a guy and 5-6 women. Not sure if there were more inside. The dude comes to greet us, barely speaking the language. We had a hard time understanding what he’s saying. They lived without electricity, gas, anything. This is in the early 90s, so there’s no internet, mobile phones to worry about. At least for most people.
Anyway, they all looked weird, have kinda dumb expressions on their face, and we can barely understand each other. They asked us who’s the president now, and if we want some milk. They look at our clothes and shoes weirdly, curious… like they hadn’t had contact with humans for a long, long time. Or maybe there were more crazies around those parts…dunno.
Not sure to this day what was going on. It’s not typical in the region, so we kinda freaked out, especially cause the dude looked a bit disturbed, and we were too young. We were looking around to see if there’s more of them, paranoia was getting to us, thinking there must be a village nearby. What was also weird is that all the women kept their distance, and never got close to us. Like he was guarding them, or checking us out, if it’s safe for them.
One of my friends kept saying we don’t want their milk, and we need to go, cause it’s getting dark. We walked calmly for a while, then when we thought we were out of their sight, we bolted like crazy out of there. Needless to say, we camped after a few hours, and we always had one person awake to keep watch.
We told people that were living in the villages near that area, about the mountain people they saw, and no one believed us.
They said nobody lives up in the mountains.”
“It Was All So Surreal”
“My husband and I were hiking up a mountain in the Pacific Northwest. It’s perpetually muddy due to a large number of waterfalls along the sides of the trail, so there’s no way you can avoid getting at least a little dirty.
Around an hour and a half up the trail, we passed two men wearing black suits, black hats, black glasses, holding black leather briefcases and wearing black dress shoes. Completely clean dress shoes. And immaculately clean, pressed pants. Not a spot of dirt or a wrinkle on either of their clothes.
As we passed each other, one of them whispered something in German. I looked back at them and they were both standing still and looking back at us, staring. It was all so surreal.”