Tag Archives: skinwalker

On Camping

So I’ve just returned from one of our trips to my friend Graham’s farm. Outside of spooky noises and finding bear droppings close to our camp (turns out we camped near a game trail) not too much spooky stuff happened.

I told stories of Skinwalkers, the Wendigo, and Black Eyed Children around the campfire as I’m expected at this point to do. We listened to some music and chatted, but we mainly relaxed.

It’s funny, but stomping through the woods with a full pack, or chopping wood for a fire, well it sucks, but it’s also so very relaxing. I was isolated from technology for two days and realize I needed the break.

However, that’s not what inspired me to write this post. What prompted it were some of my thoughts on camping and safety. It seems so strange to me that we think of tents and tarps as protection from the unknown. I know that I’m sitting in a room made of material thinner than my t-shirt, but for some reason I feel safer than exposed. Could be an ‘I can’t see you, you can’t see me,’ kind of thing, but it still interests me.

After talking about malevolent creatures that can only come in if you invite them, I questioned my friends as to whether or not tents counted as your property when set up. Does it count as a home, and would it keep out traditional vampires, or Skinwalkers?

The general consensus was yes.

Even in the deepest of the wild we still cling to notions of home and safety; that there are rules to be followed. It pops up in my stories, and in our interactions with nature.

One of the brighter spots of the trip was our hike into the woods themselves. We just followed a game trail and came upon what felt like abandoned hunting blinds every 500 feet. In one of them, a big fat porcupine had chewed out a corner to squeeze in and make a home. We were able to peek in and take a look without being in any danger, or endangering the animal. It was a neat little up close encounter with nature that wasn’t the normal deer or coyote we generally run into.

Unfortunately our hike was cut short by the sound of gunshots somewhere deeper into the forest, so we returned to our camp.

One interesting thing I noticed is that we all settled into roles. We had a guy who made fire, the guy who organized everyone, the guy who chopped firewood. I still don’t know what my role was, maybe the storyteller, maybe the comic relief, I have no clue.

So, even though we huddled in the firelight, and listened to voices in the forest from a cabin somewhere beyond our property, we had a great time. A lot of work, but a lot of relaxation.

Still, night-time brought that familiar feeling out in all of us. That fear of the unknown. The fear of what may be lurking in the dark. Of waking up the next morning and seeing how close deer had bedded to our camp, or how coyote droppings were only twenty feet away from the furthest tent.

That’s why we go though, to see things and experience what most people don’t care to, and for just a moment, be irrationally scared before we head back to civilization. Just for the relaxation, yet also the rush.

There’s something in my house

At least Bailey seems to think so. This is going to sounds kind of cliche coming from a horror writer, but ever since I’ve written the article on Skinwalkers, weird things have been happening. Bailey is on edge and will bark and growl at empty rooms, she’ll insist on napping next to me or my wife while we work and not anywhere else, and every so often she’ll seem to hear something downstairs.

Now, she is skittish as all hell. When her ball rolls next to the garbage can, encouraging her to get it is like trying to convince someone who’s scared of heights to go skydiving. Regardless though, I’ve noticed stuff too. Weird little things. Strange noises and the sound of footsteps. Unease when I’m home by myself with the dog or even just outside in the yard at night. I do not live in a scary area, this is a new feeling.

Just now she perked her ears up and is rapidly scanning the room.

Anyways, what happened the other day really made my skin crawl.

I’m pretty OCD about making sure I lock the back door after taking Bailey out. It’s the first thing I do before I unleash her. So, put yourself in my shoes.

You’re upstairs on your computer, listening to music, playing games, whatever.

Then you hear something downstairs, just sounds like something being moved. You pause the music and listen. There it is again. The dog won’t leave your side. You go downstairs and first thing you notice is the backdoor is unlocked. Chiding yourself for being careless, you lock it and turn around and face the basement door.

And see the glow of the basement lights flooding out between the gaps in the door.

Lights that weren’t on that morning, and that you don’t remember turning on.

Bailey and I retreated upstairs, confirmed my wife was still at work, and then searched every inch of the house. I even had a horror movie moment where I had to dramatically pull back the shower curtain. By the end I was sure I was having a mini-panic attack. I didn’t find anything, but still we’ll hear things downstairs that we just ignore at this point.

Occasionally Karen will hear something at night, but it seems most of whatever it is happens during the day. Sorry for the quick update, I was writing about a local hospital, but this popped in to my mind and I had to write it down. Have you guys ever had anything weird like that happen? Probably just a fluke in memory but enough to throw off your day based on the creepiness factor? Let me know in the comments below. If no one has had anything that specific, I’ll need to figure out how all those vampire and werewolf hunters in the movies source all of those silver bullets.

A real moment that scared the hell out of me

I don’t scare terribly easy in life. Movies and video games can kick in fight or flight, but in real situations if I’m with other people it’s not too bad. One event though sticks out in my mind. The night I think I saw a Skinwalker.

A Skinwalker is a Native American shaman that can change shape by wearing other creatures skins. They are said to be immortal, can run as fast as cars, and invulnerable to bullets. As a legend, they are comparable to the Wendigo as a cautionary tale. Many of the Native American stories I’ve read over the years are metaphors. The Wendigo for instance, is a cautionary tale about cannibalism even in the worst of times. Eating the flesh of men will turn you into a monster that hungers for the flesh of men but is never satiated.

The Skinwalker message though, is to avoid and beware witches.

So why I think I saw one.

My extended family owns a ranch in California that butts right up to a Native American reservation. Remains of earlier habitation can be found among the ranch grounds, such as grinding stones, arrowheads, and the like. Now, it truly is a beautiful place with remarkable views. I proposed to Karen out there. But night time gets a bit ominous.

I love when we visit the ranch. I get to see my family from California that I don’t have many chances to see, the grounds are gorgeous, and I have miles of land to target shoot on.

There's like, 1 place to shoot rifles outdoors near Chicago. Here I am in Heaven wasting a dollar a shot in .303 British for my Enfield.
There’s like, 1 place to shoot rifles outdoors near Chicago. Here I am in Heaven wasting a dollar a shot in .303 British for my Enfield.

As I’ve mentioned multiple times, I enjoy camping and don’t have a problem stomping around at night in the dark woods. The ranch though, is completely different. Just dark, open fields and a few horse barns all nestled in a valley between dark mountains. Anytime I’m there at night I feel the sensation of being watched. One night things came to a head.

My friend Graham had accompanied my family and my sister’s boyfriend at the time, to the ranch for a week one summer. There’s a guest house on the property we stay in, and about a quarter-mile away there are offices, barns, warehouses, etc. My extended family has their main house about a half mile away.

Now, the only satellite TV was in the office. A two-story building set about a half mile from the main house, and the quarter-mile from where my parents were. My uncle offered to take us over there to watch a scary movie, so we loaded up in golf carts and drove over.

We watched the Ring 2, and it sucked so bad my uncle left midway through. He asked us to lock up, took a golf cart, and left us to finish the movie. The movie and CGI was so bad it was laughable, and left us in a good, normal mood. We started switching off the lights and happened to glance out the window towards the road.

Now, the road that ran throughout the ranch was generally dark and branched off a few times. The road back to the guest house had 2 street lights that provided a small amount of light piercing through the darkness. About 100 feet from the office were two fenced in paddocks for horses and cattle. The 5 1/2 foot tall fences were separated from the road by about 6 feet of grass.

So, the four of us were talking while watching those circles of light. All of us looking.

Something the size of a man leapt over the left paddock fence, ran directly through the light while hunched, and leapt over the right fence. It was too fast to notice details, but it was almost like it was specifically waiting for us to all look. It could have chosen a quarter-mile of darkness to cross the road, but it chose to make its impossible jump right underneath the light.

My blood froze, and we debated what to do. Finally, and anticlimactically we ran to the golf cart, and made a 10 mph escape.

I’ve never seen anything like it since. One of the common stories of the Skinwalker is that they’re known to play pranks and try to scare people. If that’s what it was, it sure as hell succeeded.

They also know when you’re talking or thinking about them, so, well, sorry.

Karen’s gone out with me to the ranch a few times since then. She’s a a photographer and decided to take a time-lapse photos of the stars since light pollution from Chicago prevents that around here. The photos end up with really cool ghostly curves as the stars move through the sky, and the slow shutter speed picks up enough ambient light that the surroundings become visible. It’s a long process that can take hours depending on the wanted effect. She wanted me to come outside with her since it was creepy at night, which I gladly did. I just happened to bring my .45 I had brought for target shooting.

See? Cool as hell.
See? Cool as hell. 17 minute exposure.

She gets scared easily. While we were outside I told her it was for coyote. Coyotes don’t attack people, but I didn’t tell her the real reason I brought the 1911 out until we were safely back inside.

I love exploring that place, but there I know that the safest thing to do is to just wait for daylight.