My Royal Consort and I enjoy tent camping at least a couple of times each fall/winter, and I’m particularly fond of the various districts that comprise the thousands of acres of impenetrable woodlands known as Kisatche National Forest, in central Louisiana.
During one of these trips, a year-and-a-half ago, we camped at Fullerton Lake campground, the site of the ruins of the old mill town of Fullerton, Louisiana. We were there for two nights in late December.
The first night we had arrived as night fell, after a four-hour drive and some sightseeing. We quickly set up camp in one of the crescent shaped campsites that are spaced about twenty yards apart.
That first night, temperatures were in the 30s, so we built a nice fire, and after some supper followed by a bit of spiked hot chocolate, we were quite snuggly in our tent.
The peculiar thing about that first night being so very cold was the dead silence that seemed to emanate from the low temperature: there was no wind, no animals stirring whatsoever …as if we were surrounded by snowfall (I’m very much from Louisiana but I went to grad school in Vermont; I know the silence caused by snow quite well). I could only hear the occasional crackle from the fire. The thick forest almost made it sound like the atmosphere was insulated.
This was in stark opposition to the second night, in which the temperature shot up about fifteen degrees. The second night, there were winds high above, and they shifted the giant canopy of branches and leaves back and forth, lulling us to sleep in epic fashion. There were also woodpeckers hard at work in the earliest hours, followed by a drizzling rain that we awoke to: our cue to pack our camp and head home.
So on the first night, with the forest so oddly quiet, my Royal Consort slept soundly while I slept fitfully, waking up every so often to observe the silence. There were only two other occupied campsites, both of which were RVs parked down the road by the lake. We were some distance from those, closer to the entrance to the campground.
On one of the awakenings I had during the first night, well after midnight, I listened carefully: the silence was almost as if several quilts had been thrown over our tent.
But then, in the distance … I could hear footsteps.
The steps sounded like a large animal walking toward the backside of our tent, from a south westerly direction. I lay there in my sleeping bag, still as a mouse.
After a brief moment, I began to realize this animal honestly sounded as if it were walking on two legs. Steady, long, confident strides. Not stopping. Not slowing. I strained my eyes in the blackness expecting to see a flashlight. I saw no light at all.
Now mind you, we had done at least an hour of foraging by flashlight in that very area, looking for fallen wood and tinder with which to build our fire. And it was not smooth terrain. It was uneven, with many, many roots, fallen tree trunks, holes in the ground, and built up mounds of earth. There was thick undergrowth, tangling vines, and even thorns and stickers. We had struggled in boots and pants, with gloved hands, bearing flashlights. The backside of those campsites was definitely not a cleared area.
In my opinion, there is no way a person could have steadily walked through that area, even with a flashlight.
And these were not light footsteps. They were heavy and confident. Steady and large; but without panic, without aggression.
As I heard its steps curve around the back of the campsite, I expected to hear this “animal” pause near our tent and fire. Most creatures would, to perhaps freeze in a brief moment of instinctive fear, or to at least sniff the air in curiosity.
But this creature did not. The steps continued, as steady as before, in a long confident curve as it traveled northeasterly, deep into the thick forest. It paid us no heed at all.
I am a lover of spooky tales, ghosts, and paranormal stories. But I’m also a dyed-in-the-wool skeptic. I’ve waited seriously and open-mindedly throughout my 46 trips around the sun, in hopes of experiencing something. This, however, I cannot explain.
After a bit of hesitation, I told my Royal Consort about it the next day. Of course he laughed and insisted it must’ve been natural and explainable (he also pointed out his desire to bring our handy shotguns next time; haha). My only guess is that the aural environment created by the temperatures and climate that night took something normal, and made it sound bizarre.
Meanwhile, I do know that even a nocturnal animal with good night vision would have strode in a less steady and even manner, on that overgrown and uneven terrain.
I don’t know what was in those woods. And I cannot explain how it was able to move like that.