Deep within the mountainous valleys of my home state I found a strange forest, called The Silver Mist Forest, but no one can ever go there.
I stumbled upon it one evening while hiking through the wilderness back in 1998. I wandered off the typical hiking trail, while in the adventuring mood, and had all but gotten lost in the dense pine trees when I saw an old wooden sign which read "The Silver Mist Forest."
Cautiously, I journeyed further into the woods. I had with me a compass and one of those old emergency satellite phones in case I really needed to call for help. I headed east and kept walking, traversing the rough terrain.
I must have been caught up in my own mind or in some kind of daze because, for whatever reason, I just kept walking and walking without realizing how far I'd gone in. A bizarre atmosphere loomed over me as I walked deeper into this troubling environment.
Before long, it was getting dark and a thick fog was rolling in from a nearby hollow. The fog scattered across the mountain, obscuring the places in between each tree and turning it into a maze of obstacles. An odd feeling lingered in my mind. Maybe it was paranoia but I swear I kept hearing someone behind me, stepping with my every step. I didn't expect to be there at dark.
I trekked onward, aided only by a small keychain flashlight from my car keys. Then the footsteps got louder and faster. I looked behind me, peering through the cloud of fog, but I couldn't see a thing.
By this time I decided it was a good idea to head back. I turned around going west but the noises seemed to still follow me. Every shadow and shape in my path seemed a potential danger as paranoia gripped me. The darkness echoed its blank and hollow emptiness at me in waves.
My imagination then decided to mess with me. The idea that perhaps a bear or some other animal was the cause of these noises entered my mind and once it was there I couldn't shake it. The footfalls seemed to grow closer and my sense of danger heightened.
In sudden panic, I made the mistake of running. In a full sprint, I took off, passing through the mist and dodging the trees. Embarrassing as it is to admit, I was genuinely in fear for my life. Something about this place really had a hold on my psyche. Then, when maneuvering through the narrow space between two scraggly trees, a jutted out branch caught me and sent me veering to the side and falling backwards.
I lost my balance completely and fell hard on the forest floor. I laid there for a moment, catching my breath and looking up into the sky beyond the tall trees as the natural light faded. If something was coming for me, I was as good as dead. But to my surprise, the noise was gone. I wondered, Did I outrun it? Was it all in my head?
I sat up and tried to reorient myself but when I looked at my compass, something was wrong. The needle on the compass was spinning around and around like crazy. Did It break in the fall or was something affecting it? Luckily I was able to follow some nearby power lines back to safety. As I came closer to the main trail, my compass oddly started working again. I made my way back to my car just as the stars came out to decorate the night sky.
As I drove off, I saw an unusual light in the sky. It wasn't a plane or anything like that. I'm still not sure what it was, but it shined an eerie purple glow. I hesitate to call it an unidentified flying object but that description certainly fits. At this point, I just wanted to get home.
That night, I hardly got any sleep. I just kept thinking about my experience. Every time I'd close my eyes I'd see the pine trees of The Silver Mist Forest, the fog rolling in or the treetops extending out into the open skies. I'd hear the ominous sound of something approaching or see the bright glowing purple light in the sky.
That night I dreamed of running through the darkened forest, of weaving between the tall trees in a hurried attempt to get away. But what was chasing me? I wondered. The dream had felt so real, I could feel the forest floor, the fresh night air, hear the crickets and sense the danger of something approaching. What was I running from?
I needed to go back there. Something was pulling me back. It was like a piece of me was still there. This time however, I'd go in the morning. This time, I'd be prepared to see something strange.
I made my way towards the main hiking trail, driving my usual route, with the tall pine trees scraping the sky on either side of the road. Suddenly, something stirred in a nearby bush.
A dark hairy mass appeared from the foliage. It darted its way onto the road ahead. In an instant, I slammed on my brakes and narrowly avoided hitting it. There stood a human-like figure, completely covered in hair. Before I could get a good look at it, the creature ran off. It disappeared into the thick wilderness never to return again. What the heck did I just see?
I sat there in the middle of the road for a while shocked and dumbfounded by what just happened. Maybe it's hubris, foolhardiness or something that came over me but I kept driving. It would only get weirder from there. I looked down at my watch, inexplicably, it had stopped. I parked my car at the trail entrance and began the trek into the woods.
I entered into The Silver Mist Forest, traveling across the tough terrain once more and heading east in the direction of the sunrise. The forest felt alive and active as if every tree was conscious of my presence. It felt even stranger than before. The environment seemed to hum with electricity. The atmosphere surrounded me and clung to me like a blanket. The air was thick and hardly breathable. Again, the fog rolled in, covering everything in an impenetrable haze.
A man stepped forward from the mist. Startled, I jumped back. He was wearing a green forest ranger uniform with identifying patches on his shoulders and front pocket.
"What are you doing out here? You're not allowed to be this far off the trail," he said in a commanding voice.
"Oh, sorry! I was just looking around," I said nervously. I thought about telling him about the strange thing that ran out in front of my car but he seemed like a no-nonsense kind of guy.
"I'm gonna need you to turn around and head back to the main trail now," he said, giving me a stern look. Something didn't feel quite right about this guy. His voice sounded almost unnatural like a stage performer delivering a line. It was only then that I noticed that his nametag was blank and that one of the patches on his shoulders was upside down. His gaze harshened as if he noticed that I'd noticed.
"Turn around and go back to your vehicle," he said.
Despite my suspicions of the man, I followed his orders to avoid getting in any trouble. "Uh, yes sir," I replied and began to turn around. As I was walking towards the entrance I heard him say "Remember, you didn't see anything. Understood?"
I looked back over my shoulder and saw the man vanish into thin air. It wasn't just the fog covering him, he disappeared entirely before my eyes. I kept walking back to my car. I knew then that something was very strange and seriously wrong about this forest. Either this place was messing with my mind or the strangest of beings had claimed it as their home.
As I walked further and further away, my mind seemed to clear more and more. There's no way that just happened. I must’ve imagined that. There's no way, I told myself. I had to be sure. I began walking back towards where the man had been but as soon as I took a few steps, a figure began appearing from the mist.
It was a frightening specter in the shape of a wolf. The creature's eyes shined an eerie diamond brilliance and its body gleamed a bright silver. This bizarre figure was no ordinary animal.
The wolf began to speak in a haunting and uncanny human voice without ever moving its lips. "Turn back," it whispered. The silver wolf took a step forward. I stood frozen for a moment with panic growing within me.
"Turn b - a - c - k," it said again, increasing in volume.
I could hear the sound of it speaking both in my mind and in my ears. The specter walked towards me yet again. I got the most intense feeling of fight or flight I've ever gotten in my life.
"Turn b - a - a - c - k!" it wailed.
I took off running as fast as I could all the way back to the main trail. A primal and animalistic need to escape consumed me. I scrambled to the sanctuary of my vehicle and got in. I hurriedly pulled the door closed.
As I drove off from the trail entrance I saw something lift up from some beyond the pine trees. It was much larger than any bird, a man-sized winged being. The giant bird glided effortlessly through the sky. It moved with all the ease of a fish swimming through water. Its wingspan was massive. As it swooped lower, I saw that it had light grey skin and glowing red eyes. It scowled down at me.
The creature began to follow my vehicle as I drove, as if seeing me off and making sure that I was leaving. It circled above a few times and then flew off, vanishing out of sight. I drove away at full speed and went straight home.
I never went back there again but to this day I routinely think about that forest. I still see that place in my dreams at night. I asked around to my friends to see if they've ever heard of The Silver Mist Forest and to my surprise some of them had stories. They told of whispery voices and singing that led them out of the forest. They told of unearthly glowing objects and flashes of light out of nowhere. They said electronics would mysteriously stop working as if there was some sort of interference.
One of my friends said that she'd been hiking through there when suddenly she got the odd feeling that she had to leave. That theme repeated in all their stories, the thought randomly popping into their minds that they had to get out of there. It was as if the forest had its own way of keeping you out or letting you know that you shouldn't be there. Another friend of mine told me that he'd gone camping there only to wake up with his tent back on the main trail.
The Silver Mist Forest is the strangest place I've ever been. The word "haunted" doesn't cut it. It’s a mystery that pulls you in but turns you away before you can understand it. It shines in the distance of our knowledge but fades from sight when we approach. It’s a place off limits to reality, a place that human beings aren’t allowed to go.
The reason I felt compelled to tell about this decades later is that a few days ago I saw a news story about that area which said that a massive fire ripped through that forest burning away everything in sight. I don't have to worry about some idiot like me reading this story and heading out there now. That's the end of The Silver Mist Forest. Whatever was there has taken its secrets with it.
However, It's not the only place out there like this. I know it's not the only place. You should be aware of that. There are places on this earth where monsters roam, where unexplainable lights glow in the night sky, and where people and animals aren't quite what they seem. You just have to know where to look and sometimes, if you're like me, you'll find it by accident.
Written by Levi Athens