His mind filled with surprise and horror as he heard a strange man’s voice call back. He had no idea someone else was in these parts of the woods.
His body catapulted into action with only one mission in mind. Nothing was going to stop him from finding his daughter. As he ran and shouted for her, this strange man’s voice kept answering back. His blood began to run cold.
It started out like any other Saturday hike for John Utsey and his two kids, David and Brittney. John was a military man and loved to teach his kids some basic survival skills.
He also loved to get them outdoors and exercising. His son, David, was 10 and his older sister, Brittney, was 12. They were both eager to make their dad proud by showing him how capable they were. But today, that would be put to the test.
John often let his kids venture ahead of him to run and play. He trusted their hiking sensibilities and knew they’d have good footing if they ever came across dangerous terrain. But the terrain was the last thing John should be worrying about.
They were about an hour into their hike when things started to take a deadly and terrifying turn.
Hiking was a way for John to relax and let his mind wander and get lost in the beautiful scenery and nature that surrounded him. While he listened to his children’s laughter up ahead, he began to zone out.
Suddenly, he was woken from his reverie by an eerie silence. He looked up ahead and realized he couldn’t see his kids anymore. Using his sharp and deep military tone, he called out to them.
He listened, expecting a reply, but he heard none. Now, panic began to set in. They’d usually always call back. He raced ahead, continually shouting their names into the wooded mountain range.
But just before he could imagine the worst, he sees his son come out from a forested corner. John inhales, breathing a wash of intense relief he hadn’t felt in a while. But it wasn’t all as it seemed.
David ran up to him. But once John looked at him, he knew something was wrong. He looked just as relieved to see him. “What’s wrong?”, he asked. “Where’s your sister?”. He frantically looked around them.
“I don’t know”, he replied. “I can’t find her”. John’s stomach dropped as his blood ran cold. This woodland was huge. Not to mention, bears and cougars inhabited this land. But that wasn’t all that lived here. Something far else lingered just around the corner.
John grabbed his son and told him to stay by his side as they continued upwards. His shouts bellowed throughout the forest like the sound of thunder. He shouted for what seemed like forever but then froze.
His feet glued to the ground as he heard a voice shout back. But the voice he heard was not his young daughters. No, the voice someone else.
John brought his kids on a trail less-traveled on this mountain, and he saw no parked cars of any other hikers out today when he pulled into the mountain starting point.
His mind raced as he chastised himself for being too careless. John heard a man’s voice call back. He had no idea someone else was in these woods. His sudden presence spooked him, especially as his daughter was still somewhere.
After his initial shock, John’s body catapulted into action. He told his son to stay right there as he charged towards the strange man’s voice. It sounded close.
As he continued to shout for his daughter, this strange voice kept answering back. John couldn’t keep his mind from panicking about what the hell was going on. Why wasn’t she answering back?
He was close now, he could feel it. He hoped desperately that what he’d find wouldn’t be any of the dark scenarios he painted in his mind.
He rounded the corner of a big boulder and saw his daughter standing, frozen. He shouted out to her. It seemed to snap her out of a trance. She looked at him, eyes-wide, but worry stretched across her face. She turned her head.
She turned back to the direction she was looking at before. Confused by her reaction, John followed her eerie gaze. And then he saw it.
It was the man who had been shouting. His arm was raised in the direction of Brittney. He was gesturing to her, and she stood, frozen in place. John ran up to her and held her tight. But then he realized what was happening.
John found his daughter scared frozen, looking over at a man lying on the ground. He was frail and barely had enough to lift his hand. He was gesturing to her for help.
It took all his might to reply to John’s shouts. John raced over to him and quickly asked him what happened. He reached his hand into his backpack and gave him food and water. Suddenly, he leaped up.
In all his panic to find his daughter and fearing he was running into a dangerous situation, he left his son behind. He told his daughter to help the man as he ran back to his son.
Finally, they were all together again. He asked the strange man again what happened. But he could barely talk. There was no service to call for help and the man couldn’t walk. John had to think fast.
He left all his rations with the man and told him he’d return with the police. John and his kids raced down to the car park and immediately called for help.
Moments later, cops and an ambulance arrived and safely rescued the injured hiker. But what happened to him? And who was this strange hiker?
John later learned that he and his kids saved a 50-year-old experienced hiker who went on a hike 5 weeks ago, only to turn up missing the next day.
He had taken a fall and couldn’t move. As the days passed, his strength did too. His only mistake? Hiking alone. He expressed his deepest thanks to John and his kids, all the while giving the family an experience they’ll never forget.