Now she knew it for sure: she should never have started that adventure. She should have never chosen the Pacific Crest Trail.
Her heart was galloping as footsteps and whisperings sounded all around her tent. She checked her phone: there was no mobile signal in that area. As her mind raced, trying to think of what she could do, the voices kept getting louder and louder.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 she had her eyes open or closed.
She got her hands out of her sleeping bag and felt around her, looking for her dog. She realized something that made her stomach drop to her knees.
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 and a lantern, got out of the tent, and ran away, yelling as loud as her lungs allowed her. It took her 12 hours of walking to arrive at the nearest town, where she told her story. An exploration patrol was sent to the area to rescue Hans and investigate the people Tracy had seen, but nothing was ever found. 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.