National Forest near Forks, Washington (author photos)
Murmurs in the Mountains of the Olympic Peninsula, Washington State
The dark, thickly forested terrain of Washington State’s Olympic Mountain Range became the setting for one of the strangest experiences I have ever had.
The story began in May of 2021, when my father and I headed into the mountains near Forks, WA to scout out potential elk hunting sites for later in the year. (I won’t say exactly where we were, because this is a special place, and I don’t want to spoil it with too many visitors.)
We parked our car at the bottom of an old logging road which had been decommissioned years ago by the Forest Service. As we trudged up the steep, gravel road, with each switchback, the well-worn ruts in the earth became more and more overgrown with brush, and after a mile or two, the surroundings began to appear more like natural habitat than anything manmade.
Strange, 6-foot-tall, primordial-looking, sharp-needled shrubs lined both sides of the route, making it hard to see what lay ahead. On our right side, the hill climbed steeply up about 30 feet, leading to a ridgeline topped with giant Douglas fir trees and carpeted with olive green moss and ferns. On our left, the hill fell steeply down for hundreds of feet into shadowy stands of dark timber.
Looking to our right, along the ridgeline, we noticed some shady areas under the trees which looked like nice places to rest. We explored further and found that sure enough, they were elk beds. We spotted many flattened areas where elk had recently been laying, along with fresh scat, but the air felt thick, quiet, deserted, and still, and there were no elk in sight.
We descended from the ridge to the old logging road and continued along it, but found that moving forward became more and more difficult because at some point in the past, dozens of large trees had fallen across the path. There were so many trees lying across the road that my father pointed out that it seemed like they had been deliberately placed there, and that somebody didn’t want anyone in that area.
Still, we continued to move ahead, climbing over the fallen trees and pushing past masses of tangled vines and thorn bushes, hoping we might find more sign of elk. Eventually we arrived at an area where instead of dark fir trees, smooth-barked, white birch trees bordered each side of the path and arched across it, forming a sort of tunnel. Clover and other soft green plants carpeted the ground, and tiny white flowers blossomed here and there. The place had a fairy-tale quality to it, and I thought that it felt like a nursery, like a safe, happy place where something would raise its young.
My father decided to return to the area where we had seen the elk beds and to sit down there for a few minutes. I chose to continue exploring. As I proceeded through the tunnel of trees, I stepped to the side of the path and looked down into the dark timber that fell steeply into unknown regions far below.
Suddenly, I heard an odd sound, like a cross between a bark and a deep grunt. It sounded to me like a warning, like the sound meant that I needed to leave. Then I felt a strange buzzing in my head, and began to feel dizzy and a little confused. I shook my head to try to clear it, but the strange off-balance feeling continued, so I decided to return the way I had come. I rejoined my father near the elk beds, and we decided to head home. Nothing more of interest happened that day.
Six months later, in October, 2021, it was hunting season, and we decided to return to the same mountainous area in search of elk. It was just at the break of dawn, on a chilly morning, with billowing clouds of fog just above the treeline, and a fine, misty rain falling. We began hiking up the old logging road, stepping gently and carefully and trying to be as quiet as possible. I was on the right, next to the side of the hill that goes up to the ridgeline, while my father was on the left, next to the side of the hill that slopes down.
We rounded a corner and suddenly we heard a sharp hissing sound, like the surprised intake of breath a person makes when you startle them. We both heard it very clearly, turned to each other and stared, silently mouthing the words, “What was that? I don’t know” etc. at each other. We scanned the hill, the forest, the ridgeline, the trees, the sky, and all around us, trying to figure out where the sound was coming from. It sounded like it was just above me, very close to my head, on the ridgeline, on the ground below the trees.
Then we heard murmured conversation. It sounded like the voices of at least three people, and that at least one of them was a female voice. The voices were talking quietly, in an otherworldly language we could not understand.
I tried to come up with a reasonable explanation for the invisible voices right next to our heads. Maybe we had scared some fellow hunters, and possibly the voices were coming from someone in a hunting blind or a tree stand above the road, I thought. We did not want to frighten anyone or risk being shot, so we walked a little farther to a small clearing where we, in our blaze orange caps and vests, would be visible from anyone in the trees. Then we climbed up to the ridgeline, under the trees where the elk beds were, and looked around. There was no one there. No hunters, no blinds, no treestands, no people, no elk, no fresh elk scat, nothing.
Bewildered, we returned to the road and as we continued our progress along it, the murmuring continued! We could hear it very clearly. There were quiet voices, in the forest. It seemed that some beings were observing us and quite possibly, discussing us, and that they didn’t want us to come any closer to them.
We both had the strangest feeling, like we were hearing voices from somewhere else, like another dimension, or something that was part of our world and also not of our world. We were not filled with dread or fear, just with a sense that we were experiencing something that was somehow, just out of our reach, and that we should move on because we weren’t supposed to see more or to know more about what was out there.
The voices seemed to move farther away, so we proceeded up to the area where the trees had covered the path. This time, there were even more downed trees that seemed to have been pushed or pulled down deliberately to block anyone from passing through.
My father sat there for a while, quietly scanning for elk, while I clambered over the wet and slippery fallen trees, trying to see what lay ahead. I saw some very fresh elk scat but no elk, and was about to turn back when I realized I was in the same area we had been in months before, where the trees had arched across the path to form a green tunnel.
There, as I searched the ground for sign of elk, I saw a footprint. It was not a bootprint, or a shoeprint; it was a bare footprint. It was several inches longer and thicker than mine, and there was an impression of bare toes on the moss and damp earth and tiny pinecones that formed the forest floor. I thought, “Can this be real? It can’t be.”
I tried to convince myself that it must not be a real footprint even though I knew it was. It occurred to me that if there was more than one, I would know for sure. I scanned the ground to see if there was another footprint and sure enough, there was another, of matching size and shape, about three feet farther down the path. At this point, I began to feel very uneasy, and my gut told me that I should not go any further, so I turned around and returned to where my father was.
We sat there on stumps, near the fallen trees, and whispered about what we had seen and watched the trail for a while, hoping the elk might return, but they did not, and as the rain began to fall more and more heavily, the chill seeped into our bones so at last, we returned to the car.
My father kept saying that hearing those voices was one of the strangest experiences he’d ever had. I agreed—it was absolutely eerie and otherworldly. We tried to tell other family members about our experience, but no one seemed to understand our story.
People kept saying, “Oh, there must have been other hunters there—you just didn’t see them.” But there was no one there! We were miles up the mountain. There was only one way in or out. There were no other cars parked at the bottom of the road. And the voices sounded like people and yet not like people at the same time. There was something truly uncanny about it all.
The footprints were far too big to be human. And the fact that all this happened in an active elk territory…were the voices those of something or someone who was there to hunt the same elk we were? Could it be that the voices we heard belonged to a female Sasquatch with her young ones, and that the male was deeper in the forest, hunting the elk? Or could it have been something even odder and more out-of-this-world?
We will probably never know exactly what happened, but we do know that we encountered something extraordinary and mysterious in the mountains that day, and the opinions of other people, whatever they may be, will not change that.
by Christina J. Hebert
UPDATE: We are receiving some very interesting comments on this story via our Facebook page, from others who have had similar experiences.
"A friend of mine had an experience just like this while camping with his family. It happened about two hours after sunset. It was in the summer so between 10 pm and 11 pm. He said he could hear this low level conversation going on coming from the southwest of their campsite. But, he could not make out the words. He knew there were multiple indiviuals involved.
He thought there may have been a camp out of his view that he could not see. The next day he went and explored the area. Could not find a single trace of anyone over there. That really put his hair standing straight up. Said it was the most perplexing thing to ever happen to him in the woods."
"Voices in the woods. I've experienced that many times. Most of the time it sounds like women and children playing . But some times it sounds like two men talking. But I can't make out what they are saying."
"I’ve seen areas where there was a large ached if trees pulled together like a tunnel before and I’ve heard that same type of voices."
"I was reading about a gentleman who encountered one and it hissed at him. He got a picture and it was a good picture of if behind a stump. It was aways so you could only see it’s head clearly enough to make out some facial expressions."