Missing 411: A pebble in my hiking boot

A closer look at people who go missing under perplexing  circumstances in our national parks and beyond

This is me and my husband after recently SAFELY returning from an amazing 27-mile hike behind the Grand Teton Mountain range in Wyoming this past summer – August 2022.
Whoops!!! We actually camped at a Missing 411 hotspot last summer. Erik and I took our three kids plus our two host kids from Ukraine to Hell Roaring Lake in Idaho, that little black dot you see right there. Nothing happened and all was well, but good to know for the future! What is a Missing 411 hotspot? Find out below. (Map credit: David Paulides)

Hikers, campers, hunters, and many other smaller groups of people are going missing under unusual but similar circumstances in our national parks and elsewhere.  

Some of the missing are later found in places that are seemingly impossible to get to or are many miles away from where they vanished, while others disappear into thin air, right in front of their families or friends, and are never seen again. In a few of the cases, boots are found wedged in fences, but the person remains missing.  Very odd.

For the following post, I have spent several hours researching the topic of Missing 411 in order to give you the bottom line of this phenomenon. I give credit for most of my research to David Paulides, a former police detective who has studied this issue for many years. 

So tighten up your backpack and welcome to the world of high strangeness, outdoor edition. You will never see the woods (and pretty much your life) the same again after this post. 

Missing 411 started out as a rabbit hole that quickly developed into a pebble in my hiking boot metaphorically. I love to go camping, hiking, or just being outdoors in general. The cases I reviewed are very strange, and I started to have fear and anxiety when thinking about the great outdoors. Not good. I decided to do a deep dive into this topic, in order to be able to have a sense of peace that allows me to continue to enjoy the great outdoors in all of its many forms, for decades to come.

The post you are reading is the result of this pebble, which is now (thankfully) removed from my boot!

Quick disclaimer: this article is a bit longer than my usual posts because I wanted to be as thorough yet as bottom-lined as possible. Feel free to grab a cup of freshly pumped water from the lake, Gatorade from your water bladder, or instant coffee made with your camp stove before you begin!  I promise this post is interesting and well worth your time, though.

In order to illustrate the basic gist of missing 411, I thought it would be fun to listen in on a compilation of conversations between myself and my husband Erik as we are discussing our upcoming backpacking trip (which we just came back from). For context, Erik and I have been hiking and camping in remote, forested locations all over the country for 25 years annually. Sometimes we hike just the two of us, and sometimes we bring our kids. We plan to continue this tradition as long as possible, and the research I am about to present to you will hopefully help all of us to enjoy nature for decades to come.

Missing 411 – a conversation

Me: Hey hon, do you know where we will be hiking this summer?

Erik: Yes, I am thinking we should redo the same hike we did behind the Grand Teton mountain range in Wyoming. 

Me: Ok, I need to look that up and see if that’s a missing 411 hotspot.

Erik: What the heck are you talking about?

Me: Several hikers, backpackers, campers, and many others, have gone missing for several decades under very mysterious and unexplainable circumstances.  They tend to disappear in clusters.  For example, Yosemite National Park is a huge missing person hot-spot.  I’m not sure what clusters exist in Wyoming. 

Erik: (Looking at me with skepticism) Babe, is this one of your conspiracy theories?

Me: Nope, it’s been investigated thoroughly and documented by a former police detective; he has written 11 books. This detective, David Paulides, has even gone back to several locations and re-investigated. He has interviewed witnesses, pulled police and national park reports, and obtained original newspaper articles. These are actual and documented cases of those who have gone missing. He also produced three documentaries; one involved missing children, and one was about missing hunters.

Erik: So, you’re telling me that people go missing under weird circumstances while they are hiking and backpacking? People go missing all the time in the woods because they go off-trail. How are these cases different?

Me: For starters, I am not referring to those who go missing and who are later found alive. I am talking about people, even kids, who seemingly vanish into thin air and then are found alive several miles away and up an elevation that is impossible to get to. Or, they are found dead in impossible places.  Dogs cannot track them, or they track them and then suddenly lose the scent.  It’s almost as if people are being lifted off the ground, hunted, or carried away.  David Paulides doesn’t really know what’s going on, and he doesn’t give a theory, but he thinks it could be multi-factorial and possibly paranormal.  Also, he really can’t be a conspiracy theorist because he doesn’t give a theory. 

Erik: Babe, most of these cases are probably foul play or animal attacks.

Me: Nope, he rules out both of those aspects.  He even rules out mental illness or those with suicidal tendencies.  These are definitely different cases and highly unusual.  As I said, it’s almost as if they vanish into thin air. Some of it could definitely be the human element, as there may be some strange and creepy mountain men along the Appalachian Trail. There also may be serial killers who are targeting young men who are found dead in bodies of water with high levels of a chemical, GHB, in their bodies.  

Erik:  Wait, there are young men found dead in bodies of water?

Me: Yes, there is a whole book written about this called Missing 411, A Sobering Coincidence. 

Erik: (long, drawn-out sigh).  So, what are you saying? We should never go hiking again?

Me: Not at all.  I refuse to let this change us, and I refuse to be afraid of the woods.  However, there are definitely things we can do.  

Erik: Like what?

Me: For starters, let’s not camp at Hell Roaring Lake again. You know the lake we camped at last year with five kiddos.

Erik: Why not?

Me: Because of the word ‘Hell.’  In fact, there is a connection between some of the clusters of disappearances and names of mountains, trails, cliffs, and areas that have the word Devil, Spirit, Ghost, Death, and Demon, etc. For some reason, people go missing from places with some connotation of the word ‘devil.’  I think it might have something to do with Native American land. 

Erik: (Eye roll) Now you’ve lost me.

Me: Babe. I am serious.  David Paulides wrote a whole freaking book on this. It’s called Missing 411, The Devil’s in the Details.

Erik: Sheesh.  Ok, so what do you want to do?

Me: We can go, but let’s be prepared. For example, let’s purchase and bring Personal Locator Beacons. That’s a very easy first step.

Erik: Ok, I will do the research. What else?

Me: Check the weather right before we go.  For some reason, there is a lot of weird weather events associated with these disappearances, like heavy rain, snow, and fog. 

Erik: Got it. Anything else?

Me: For starters, let’s not separate. The point of separation is a common denominator for these disappearances. The number one thing I am going to do is pray for God’s protection, and I will bring olive oil and anoint our campsite with it, like in a circle. Also, we need to tell Ed (Erik’s brother) when we will be going into the backcountry and our hiking route, and when we will be exiting. Oh, and we should bring some sort of personal protection.  I guess bear spray will have to do.  

Erik: Hon, you are a nut.  That’s a lot of stuff to do.

Me: Honestly, we could probably do nothing and be fine.  We have never had one weird thing happen to us in 25 years, except that one time in the Vidawoo mountains, also in Wyoming. And please know that I am not afraid of anything. I believe we will be fine if we do nothing. But the number one thing we can do is pray. Pray that God will keep us safe.  And if anything weird starts to happen, like the woods going silent, or a feeling of fear or dread, or a bad smell, or a voice or a scream, we should pray out loud right then and there. Also, we can command any evil spirits to go away in Jesus’s name. But for practical purposes, we at least need a personal locator beacon and letting people know when we will be out of the woods, and which hiking route. And a weather check. And sticking together. 

Erik: That’s still a lot but it sounds doable. Got it. Is it only hikers who go missing?

Me: No, sometimes it’s berry pickers, sheepherders, farmers, children in their backyards, and many other subgroups, unfortunately. 

Erik: Sorry, but some of this is hard to believe.

Me: I get that.  It gets even more bizarre.  Do you know that there have been several cases of small children disappearing from vehicles, many of which are actually locked?  One boy disappeared from a car out in the middle of the desert.  He was with his uncle who went over a hill for ten minutes, and when he returned, the child was gone. There were no tracks and no scent. The child went missing for one week. He was eventually found seven miles away, up a sheer cliff.  It was impossible to get to unless you had climbing equipment.  The boy was found alive and unharmed after seven days, yet it’s not possible to survive more than three days without water.  

Erik: This whole thing is weird.

Me: I know, and I’m sorry.  By the way, are there ay weirdly named lakes, mountains, trails, or cliffs we plan to camp out at along our next hike?

Erik: Yes. We plan to hike up to the Death Canyon Shelf on the first night.

Me: What the actual heck?

Erik: We can try to look at another camping site location before we get there.  But in order to keep our route going, we should try to hike in ten miles on the first day. And plus we hiked there before and it was really cool to see the whole valley. Do you remember spying on those other hikers with our binoculars who were setting up their camp?  That was fun.

Me: Yeah, that was fun (pauses for several moments). You know what? Let’s do it. Let’s camp on Death Canyon Shelf. We have God, who is the creator of heaven and earth and our Heavenly protector. We are going to be fine. I am not going to change my life over this.

Erik: Sounds good to me.


Spoiler Alert!!! Erik and I just returned from our backpacking trip safe and sound, and you can read about how it went at the end of this post. However, our conversation above pretty much sums up the missing 411 phenomena, and my basic response to it. But here are a few more bullet points for you to chew on before we get into a few cases, and then my analysis as to what is going on. But first, a few pictures from our recent hike:

The missing 411 common attributes:

The following common elements of the missing 411 phenomena are cut and pasted from a reddit user xofiate.  He/she did a great job summarizing the issue, and I edited it for ease of reading.

  • People who go missing usually do so in national parks, around large (or small) bodies of water, or near boulder fields. They also disappear in clusters.  ( my note: I would also add that there are many subgroups to this main list, such as ranchers, sheepherders, farmers, children, and people who are not located in national parks, such as people who disappear from their properties or yards.)
Photo and map credit: David Paulides. Here is the map of the U.S. showing all the missing 411 clusters. I admit it’s difficult to see specifics but it’s good for the general idea.
  • People from both ends of the intellectual and physical spectrum go missing (e.g. people who are physically disabled and cannot walk long distances, as well as individuals who live extremely active lives and are very fit).
  • If the missing individual is found alive, they usually have memory loss about the entire event. (my note: Children sometimes tell weird stories about how they went missing involving animals who seem to either protect them or threaten them in some way). 
  • If the missing individual is found deceased, the cause of death is almost never determined, often seeming as though they died without a cause at all. Medical examiners usually write that they died from “exposure” if they do not have a better answer to give.
  • The missing are found in areas that seem difficult–if not impossible–to reach by foot, or in the time that has elapsed, such as a child being found many miles away in just a matter of a few hours. A common example is children as young as 2-3 going missing and being found in high elevations.
  • The missing are found in an area that’s been searched by Search and Rescue (SAR) teams numerous times over a period of days (usually a week or longer). Sometimes they’re even found on the trail that’s used to access the area they’re searching, almost as if they’re placed there intentionally in order to surely be found by SAR. 
  • A lot of cases involve people who go missing for a week, but only died a day or two prior to being found, which begs the question of where they were during their time missing as well as what happened to them.
  • Shoes: the shoes tend to go missing, either just one or both. Many people are found in bizarre places at high altitudes or in tough terrain, and their socks or the soles of their feet don’t have a spec of dirt or wear on them. This is true for children too. (my note: for some reason, shoes play a role in this phenomenon.)
  • Search and Rescue dogs will be unable to pick up a scent, or if they are, they’ll follow it a few feet and then begin acting bizarrely (for example, they’ll circle and then sit down). This is not common behavior for SAR canines.  Speaking of dogs, animal attacks are ruled out by experts. Paulides will not investigate a case where an individual has a known history of mental illness. He usually won’t investigate cases where there’s a likelihood that this person left and disappeared of their own accord.
  • Investigators do not find any tracks nine times out of ten. If they do, they seem to stop inexplicably and lead nowhere, as if the person just vanished into thin air. 
  • My note: David adds a few more categories from his Missing 411 Idaho book, and here they are in summary form: technological equipment that doesn’t work properly, sometimes it appears the person has fallen or has been dropped, dreams or psychic visions of where people are located are sometimes a factor, and some of the missing people are of German descent. 
  • To me personally, these are the most interesting elements: first, professional trackers will not be able to locate any tracks from the missing individual. Secondly, the distance traveled and height achieved is impossible in many cases involving children. Thirdly, the socks and shoe element: many are found with no shoes on, but their socks are completely clean. Scratches: many who are found alive are found with multiple scratches. Also, the clothes: they are missing in whole or in part, and sometimes young children have clothes placed on them backward or inside out. Clothes are also found neatly folded in some random place in the middle of nowhere. (source: Missing 411 Idaho page 11.)

Now that you understand the common attributes of missing 411, let us dive into FIVE interesting cases.

Case number one: A boy goes missing on Mount Shasta, states that his “other grandma” led him into a cave:

Quick note: I am putting this story first because this is one of only a handful of stories I have ever found where somebody actually remembers something more substantive when they come back alive

For the following story, please bear in mind that this child is three and a half years old, so it will be easy to discount his tale. I would totally discount it if clear-minded adults came back with believable stories with clear memories of what happened, but that is never the case.  Unfortunately, we are only left with children’s stories that seem fantastical, or extremely confused adults who can’t remember anything.  Pick your poison.

On October 1, 2010, a family (who decided to remain anonymous) went camping on Mt. Shasta in California. This family consisted of a mom, dad, a three and half-year-old boy, and his older sister who was six. On this evening, they were all sitting around the campfire. The sister would say she looked over at her brother, looked away, and then looked again, and her brother was gone. The panicked family called the authorities and began a massive search. Five hours later, they find the young boy laying in a thicket on a trail that had been searched multiple times. Everyone was so excited to have the boy back that they just celebrated and did not really investigate what happened in the first place (a common practice in these cases). 

About three weeks later, the boy was talking with his grandmother Kathy (whom he had nicknamed “Kappy”) about the night he disappeared. He surprised his grandmother with the following strange sentence: 

“I don’t like the other Kappy.”  

His grandmother asked him to elaborate, and the boy told the following wild tale: 

He stated that while he was camping (the night he disappeared), he saw Kappy waving to him to follow him, so he went with Kappy. The “other Kappy” led him up a hill and to a cave where there were “spiders and women’s purses.” He said he turned to look at Kappy, and her head was glowing. The other Kappy kept asking him questions and was getting frustrated with his answers.  The other Kappy told him to leave and pushed him out of the cave.  He was found later in a thicket.  He told his father the exact same story as he told his grandmother, but the father discounted the story as too fantastical (another common theme). 

The strangeness didn’t end there. Kappy shared her own strange camping story which took place one year earlier, also on Mt. Shasta. She went camping with her friend and kept seeing very creepy “glowing red eyes” watching them from the woods all night long. They discounted it as animals, and Kappy went to her tent and her friend went to his camper. The next morning, Kappy is outside of her tent with a cut on the back of her neck. Her friend is also outside of his camper, face-down, with a cut on his neck as well.

(source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nPvAKS7b1d4)

Case number two: Climber disappears off of a rope on the side of Mt. Rainier:

In 2010, Eric Lewis (a 57-year-old very experienced mountain climber)  was out doing a technical climb on Mount Rainier, which required he and his two friends to be tethered together on the same cable. All was going well until Eric’s two friends noticed that Eric was not catching up with them on their climbing route. They drew the climbing rope up to them but noticed that the rope had been cut! They called out to Eric, but no answer.  They decided to descend the mountain rapidly because they thought that maybe Eric was in trouble. It had just snowed so there was freshly fallen snow.  When they reached the bottom of the cliff/mountain they were hiking, they looked for Eric’s tracks but found none. Also, the only footprints on the mountain (from the three climbers) were all going up.  Eric’s footprints were not observed going down the mountain, in fact, they appeared to just stop. As they were searching for Eric, they discovered an ice cave 200 feet down and away from their climbing route which would have been very hard to get to. There were no tracks leading into or out of the cave.  Deep inside the cave, they found Eric’s gear but no Eric.

They have never found Eric’s body to this day.  

(source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nPvAKS7b1d4)

Case number three: Three-year-old boy found after seven days in the desert on a ledge that was impossible to get to without climbing gear:

This is probably one of my all-time favorite missing 411 stories, and it takes place back in 1939. Three-year-old Lawrence Sullivan and his uncle head out to the Nevada desert because the boy’s uncle wants to scope out a gold prospecting site. Lawrence is instructed to stay in the vehicle. When the uncle returns to the car about ten minutes later, the door is open and Lawrence is gone. There are no tracks leading away from the car, and the uncle calls out to his nephew, but no answer. Remember, this is in the middle of the desert, so the uncle can see for miles. He calls authorities and a search ensues. For several days, they cannot find the boy until they call in an expert native American tracker. This amazing tracker picks up Lawrence’s trail several miles away and then loses it. He sees a very steep rock face and uses climbing gear to ascend the side of the mountain. He crests a very tiny rock ledge and, lo and behold, there is little Lawrence, still alive! But what is even more astronomical about this story is that his little neck is wedged carefully into a tree branch, pinning him there. He is alive after seven days without food or water (presumably).  (source: Missing 411 North America and Beyond, page 115.)

How did he get up to a ledge that is only possible with professional gear?  How did he stay alive for seven days when a human cannot live more than three days without water?

This is from Mr. Paulides book: 

There are several instances in my books where I write about a child that is found bound by a tree or in a position among branches and bound so tight so they cannot move. It almost sounds as though they were placed in that position to ensure they couldn’t move until found. This totally ensures their safety. 

(source: Missing 411 North America and Beyond, page 115., or click here: https://archive.org/stream/davidpaulidessmokymountainmysteries/David%20Paulides%20-%20Smoky%20Mountain%20Mysteries_djvu.txt)

Case number four: Georgia surveyor disappears without a trace; boots are found wedged in a nearby fence:

Christopher Tompkins was a surveyor in Georgia. The story goes that he was out working with three other coworkers in line formation, and unfortunately for him, he was the last in line. One moment his fellow coworker is chatting with him up ahead in the line, and the next minute, Christopher is gone, and he is never seen again. Here is the strange twist: they found tools and pocket change on the ground where he was in line, and one of his boots was found wedged in a nearby barbed-wire fence.  Several months later someone found his other boot also in a fence less than one mile away.  

Nobody knows what happened to poor Christopher. 

I found this article on Medium, which explains the case nicely, and also lines up with my own personal missing 411 theories: https://medium.com/the-mystery-box/the-unsolved-and-very-mysterious-disappearance-of-christopher-thompkins-923c7e6eaa5f.

Last case: Six-year-old boy survives for 11 days with no food, water, clothing, or shoes after going missing while berry picking: 

I will end the story section with this tale which happened very close to my house (in Northern Illinois) back in 1919. Six-year-old Henry Nutter was out picking berries with friends when he went missing. Ten days passed without finding Henry. On the 11th day, Henry was found miles away in a thicket. He stated he had not eaten or drunk anything for 11 days (impossible), and doctors confirmed this. The boy had no clear recollection of his 11 days of wandering and was found naked and without shoes. (Missing 411, the Devil’s in the Details page 120). 

The above stories are just a sample of the thousands of missing 411 stories available. I have read two and heavily skimmed one of the 11 books in this series. Many of them seem repetitive, and honestly, some are not that exciting.  But they are all weird for sure. 

What is really going on with Missing 411?

Unfortunately, nobody really knows, and the man who has spent thousands of hours investigating these cases also does not know. This is what David Paulides has stated: 

“I have never proposed a theory or a hypothesis about what is happening to the people I present. This is my 11th book; the road to get to this place has been cumbersome and enlightening, but I still don’t know what is happening.  There are no facts to support what is happening to the missing people I write about. If I had a theory about what is happening and could support it with facts, you’d read about it right here.”  (Missing 411 Idaho, page 23.)

Although we don’t have any complete and ironclad evidence, we have plenty of clues and common elements. Most of the clues of what is really going on come from people who come back alive and can give some sort of explanation. The challenge with this is that many people don’t remember what happened, or their stories seem implausible. Many who go missing are actually young children and involve animals of some sort, as there is a subset of missing 411 involving young kids and animals that seem to protect them. There are also a few cases in which a person mentions something about being in a cabin in the middle of the woods.  

In one case, a three-year-old girl in 1868 vanished abruptly from Northern Michigan and, while people were out searching for her, a very large bear-looking animal burst out of a thicket, and they found the girl alive within the thicket. The girl stated that Mr. Wolf took her there and fed her berries and played with her. In 1955, a similar story happened in Montana when a bear literally scooped a two-year-old girl out of her tent as witnessed by several of her siblings. They later found the girl alive and well two days later only 300 yards away from the camp in a crudely built den. She stated that Mr. Bear fed her berries and cuddled her (scooping kids, cuddling kids, and feeding kids, are not typical bear behaviors FYI).

Sometimes the animals seem to be threatening, however.  Three kids disappeared and were found alive way up the side of a mountain.  They claimed that a gorilla-like creature was stalking them and trying to hurt them, so they hid behind a fallen log.  

What is really going on with Missing 411? My analysis:

Based on my own research, I have divided the possible theories behind Missing 411 into a Missing 411 Pizza.  There are ten slices of pizza in the box, and to be honest, seven out of ten of them sound bat-shite crazy.  

No matter how you slice it.

Slice number one: the human element. People are kidnapped by a stranger or family member, or taken by a serial killer, mountain man, or some other bad person in the woods and/or in or around people’s properties. Although this is the most “normal sounding” theory, it will only account for a small percentage of cases. 

Slice two: Some government or well-funded private entity is taking these men, women, and children for some type of experimentation and/or for some larger purpose, known only to them. These people or groups are using advanced technology that is unknown to the larger population to kidnap some people in unusual ways for some purpose. Possibly, the ones that don’t match their criteria are returned. 

Slice three: We have no idea whatsoever.  This would include people disappearing by their own volition yet did not display any tendencies to indicate this propensity whatsoever beforehand.  This would also include cases that have since been solved since the publication of Mr. Paulides’ books. This would also account for people being harmed or taken by other people. 

A brief story: a farmer with 13 kids went missing one afternoon after telling his family he would be right back as he had to chase down some cows that had gotten loose.  He was never seen again.  After I did a google search of him, I learned that, although his family had no idea what had happened to him, this farmer was a gambler and had just been out the night before gambling. The theory that the family came up with is that perhaps he was taken by force by a disgruntled gambler. So, if it were me deciding which cases to leave in and which cases to exclude from Mr. Paulides’ books, I would have excluded this one. Thus, the human element is definitely a factor in some of these cases, but not all of them.

It’s almost easier to stop here because you will feel like a normal, sane person. 


The next several slices of pizza contain extra gluten and anchovies and will be very hard to swallow. 

Slice four: People disappearing via UFOs and aliens.  I cannot speak to this, as I have not researched this angle. I am also not sure if UFOs are just demonic spirits purporting to be aliens, as evil spirits do the same thing when they are purporting to be ghosts and departed human spirits (I did a whole post on it; see link below). But because I am not sure, I remain open.  In a few of the cases, lights have appeared in the sky, distracting people, and then someone goes missing. I have not read that many accounts of people who see a spacecraft in the sky and then someone goes missing immediately afterward. I have not read reports of people seen floating up in the air into a spacecraft, either. If the UFO and alien angle is true and plausible, it is possible that aliens are taking individuals and studying them. In my estimation, the ones that they deem sufficient are kept (like the really smart ones, or the very athletic ones), and the ones that are lacking are returned and later found alive (dazed and confused).  Many disabled people are also taken. Perhaps they are studying the person’s disability? I have no idea, as I am not a believer in aliens and UFOs at this time. 

But the idea is that intelligent, technologically advanced creatures not of this world are involved in taking some people and returning others, sometimes in the same place that has already been searched many times over. 

UPDATE: as of the time of this publication, David Paulides just announced that he is releasing a new documentary: Missing 411: The UFO Connection. Here is a link to the trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CZrq11wbarU

Slice five: People disappearing into portals and vortexes. I can only speak briefly about this theory.  If you google “skin walker ranch Mr. Ballen,” the story goes that the original rancher who owned the property observed a portal open on his property and a creature emerged. The portal then closed. I have heard a story where two hikers went out on a hike one day and one left the trail to use the restroom, and that hiker disappeared right before the other hiker’s eyes. Could he have accidentally stumbled into a portal? I have no idea. I recently listened to a story of a man who was running early in the morning on a trail and found a portal in the woods. He snapped a picture of it on his phone.  Many will look at it and say it looks fake.  I have no idea. 

Slice six: People disappear via something carrying them away either on foot or in the air.  I would say that, based on my research, this is about a quarter of the pizza. I have no idea if it’s a creature on foot or in the air, (or a flying saucer) but searchers usually cannot find footprints of either the person, or another animal (or creature), or the perpetrator.  In addition, Mr. Paulides has stated that the number one profile point in all missing 411 cases is the lack of a scent trail.  To me, this indicates that slice six has some credibility.

Slice seven: People disappearing via animals that do not display typical animal behavior. This would include bears, wolves, eagles, other large birds, and possibly Bigfoot. I would like to add that this, too, is somewhat unlikely as trackers do not normally find animal tracks where humans have gone missing. Heck, they don’t even find human tracks. Also, I know there is huge speculation as to whether or not big-foot-type creatures even exist.  However, since young children report animals being involved in their disappearances, I cannot rule it out. For example, in one case a young girl claimed that an eagle took her into its nest. She was later found alive, way up high on a mountain. Last note on animals: death by animal attacks are actually quite rare, and there are usually many signs that an animal attack has taken place. Mr. Paulides rules out any cases that appear to be animal predation. 

Slice eight: People who disappear because they are lured deeper into the forest and then disappear due to the deceptive efforts of fairies, or faeries (which are the evil form of fairies). I have not researched this much either because it lacks plausibility (in my opinion). However, the idea is that ancient supernatural forest creatures lure unsuspecting people into the forest, take them into their world, leaving doppelgängers behind (or not). One story I read documented a young girl who disappeared right off the main hiking trail while she was hiking in plain sight with her large group. A witness said he observed her turn her head and leave the trail. She was never seen again. Did she see something that caught her eye? In another case, a young boy disappeared and was found in a hard-to-reach place alive. He reported that either a person or a creature lured him deeper into the woods in a playful manner.  He also talked about a creature who kept him safe from other animals. 

Slice nine (and the slice you are going to choke on): People who disappear due to evil or demonic beasts who are lurking in the woods. This would include werewolf-type creatures or dog-men, demonic winged creatures, probably most cryptid animals, and other evil beasts.  This would also include people, usually involved in Satanism, who shape-shift into half-human, half-demonic creatures.  I will touch on this in a future post.  And for those Bible-believing Christians out there who may think I am making this stuff up, demonic or evil beasts are actually found in the Bible (Ezekiel 14:15 and elsewhere). 

Last slice: A theory I have not even thought of would be this last slice. I am sure there are many other theories of what is going on that I have not researched or come across. 

Before we close, I would like to opine for a moment on the human element and demonic creatures, as I have spent the most time researching these elements.  

The Human Element and Missing 411:

I have been hiking and camping in the backcountry for 25 years annually and I can tell you, there is no serial killer or kidnapper lurking out on a hiking trail, miles inside a park or forest. I did a deep dive into serial killers years ago, and I will leave links at the end of this post. The bottom line is that most serial killers are lazy and efficient, and use their vehicles much of the time. They are not in good enough shape or clever enough (or willing to put in the amount of hard work) to hide and stalk people in the middle of nowhere, several miles deep into the woods and up a huge mountain. They like to look for easy targets.  An alert hiker at 10,000 feet in great shape who is out several miles on a difficult trail is not an easy target.

There could be mountain men or homeless men in some sections of the country that cause trouble (the Appalachian Trail for instance). There also could be a serial killer targeting young men found in bodies of water. There also could be bad guys lurking in very popular and very busy campgrounds with quick access to a road. And yes, kidnappers could be at work in some of these cases way up high on that mountain. But by and large, missing 411 cannot be attributed solely to the human element.  

The human element could definitely count for one slice of this crazy pizza, though. 

Demonic Beasts and Missing 411:

It’s possible that demonic creatures are involved in these disappearances.  One of the things I do while cleaning my house is listen to podcasts and YouTube channels where people tell their own stories of weird things happening in the woods involving demonic beasts or creatures.  Normal people like you and me, and also people who have credible jobs such as police officers, park rangers, FBI agents, border agents, and men and women in the military who claim to see a number of unusual beasts. The beasts include but are not limited to, werewolf-type creatures, deer that stand up on two legs with glowing eyes, goat-men, skin-walkers, strange creatures in bodies of water, and yes, even a few large and unusual creatures with wings. I know it sounds absolutely crazy, and I realize my reputation as a normal, credible, intelligent person is on the line.  

But when you hear about an FBI agent who is conducting surveillance on a business, who is called in by other agents because they are seeing a werewolf creature near the property they are surveilling and this FBI agent sees the exact same creature, then you start to wonder. 

And when multiple park rangers write in and tell their own terrifying tales of seeing very large, very evil-looking beasts out in the woods, you start to wonder.  

In order to bring it a little closer to home, I have a quick example.  I live in the greater Chicago area, and it was well documented that a few years ago, over 100 people (including police officers) saw a large, black, moth-man-type creature in many locations around the Chicago area, including some sightings in downtown Chicago as well as suburban forest preserves.  

I live right near a forest preserve myself! Here is just one article on this phenomenon, so you know I am not making this up: https://www.vice.com/en/article/paqv9z/mothman-sightings-in-chicago

Now here is the kicker: in many of the stories I am hearing and reading, the woods actually go silent right before they see a bizarre or evil creature.Many also report the same common elements as people reported in my previous blog post about those who go almost missing in the woods. 

It always starts with the woods going silent, and then it balloons from there.  The same common elements are as follows: a feeling of dread or of being watched, scary noises, bad smells, surroundings change, weird sounds, new trails, dogs scared, and glitches in time. 

I have previously told you all that at the first moment of the woods going silent, or anything else that seems scary or off, to pray aloud right then and there.  

Pray that God would stop anything bad that is about to happen and make all evil things go in Jesus’s name. 

When I wrote the first post on this topic, there were no scary monsters being seen because the people got out of the woods on time. But, according to many eye-witness reports of people running into these evil beasts, all of the same things are happening as they did in my prior post.

Before you freak the hell out, there are absolutely things you can do.  And it begins and ends with God’s protection and with prayer. 

What you can do:

First, you can do your own research on this topic to decide if it’s worth it for you to take any additional precautions.  If you are too lazy or busy, let me do the research for you and take my word that there is an element of evil paranormal going on in the woods and elsewhere. I would say that this evil has not yet spread to suburbia or the city, but definitely in the country and the woods, places where I have grown up, and places I love to visit.  If you are going into the woods to do some hiking, camping, or backpacking, research and purchase a personal locator beacon.  Also, watch the weather, tell people where you are going, keep your kids in the middle of the line of hikers, stick together, watch out for bodies of water, avoid playing hide and seek in bolder fields, and bring some sort of protection.  

But the most important thing you can do is pray that God will guide and protect you out in the woods and while you are out and about.  If something feels off, or the woods go silent, pray aloud right then and there that God will protect you from whatever weird thing is about to happen.  Pray that all evil will go away, in Jesus’s name. You can also anoint your campsite with oil, almost like a circle of protection.  Pray that God will keep you safe and alert from all forms of evil, whether human or otherwise. 

It is my hope this is your main takeaway from this post!

I will FINALLY close with an update on our recent hiking trip. 

Erik and Heather DO NOT go missing in the Grand Teton National Park:

Besides struggling with whether or not we should have planned to hike the number of miles we were set to accomplish each day, and comparing ourselves with the hikers in their 20s who were sprinting past us on our trail, our hike went off without a hitch!  No woods going silent, no winged demonic creatures, no bad smells, no feelings of dread, and no going off trail. We saw some animals but they didn’t have any small children tucked in their furry arms! We also saw three deer who didn’t stand up on their hind legs and walk around!

While we felt prepared in general, we never even purchased a personal locator beacon. We stayed together the entire time except twice. We noticed boulder fields all over the place.  We renamed the Death Canyon Shelf (where we were camping) the Life Canyon Shelf or Shelf Life for short.  We enjoyed God’s beauty the entire time. I will leave some photos at the end of this post for your enjoyment and as a small reward for almost finishing this article!

Finally, and most importantly, we prayed and invited God into our hiking trip, to guide and protect us.  I am so glad that we did.  Because He did!  

The sunset on Life Canyon Shelf. It was unbelievable and well worth the ten miles in!

I am ending with this lame story on purpose.  Because most likely, nothing will happen to you out in the woods or out on your property line in the country.  Nothing will happen to your son as he plays in your backyard. Nothing will happen to you when you are out picking berries, walking through a creek bed, playing in a boulder field in Yosemite National Park, or camping at another hot spot. Heck, you could probably hike up Mt. Shasta and see a UFO fly into the side of the mountain and be fine.  

You could probably ignore this entire post and be okay.  

But caves?  Nope, nope, and nope.  Stay far away from caves.  

In summary and to wrap up this post, there is a small but creepy subsection of people who go missing under strange but strangely similar circumstances in our nation’s national parks, forests, and other more “normal” places (such as backyards – sorry moms). 

You can ignore everything I have said and probably be fine, but maybe this topic will become a pebble in your hiking boot.  

But now that you know more about it, why not stop, take off that sweaty boot, and remove the stone?

And while you are crouching down, take a moment to check out your surroundings. Can you hear the wind and the trees and the birds and the insects? Then all is well. Keep on hiking. 

But if the woods suddenly go quiet, you still know what to do. 


To instantly view all of my hiking pictures, skip this short section and scroll down!

To read my prequel to the missing 411 phenomena, click here: https://permission2speakfreely.com/2021/11/11/the-woods-went-silent/

To watch one of the Missing 411 Documentaries for FREE, click here:  https://youtu.be/zEA9-mEOZtA

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b2jKIHw3cUI – Dave Paulides discusses a giant bird who acted aggressively towards people. 

My deep dive on serial killers starts here: https://permission2speakfreely.com/2017/10/20/protecting-our-girls-from-serial-killers-part-i/

Here is the post I wrote about ghosts: Stop Ghosting Me! How do deal with unwanted ghosts and evil spirits

To order Missing 411 books (do not order from Amazon) or follow David Paulides on youtube, click here: https://www.canammissing.com/page/page/8396197.htm

Two quick cases involving hikers who were the “last in line” that I did not include in order to shorten this ridiculously long article:

Geoffrey Hague was a 16-year-old boy scout who disappeared in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  He had lagged behind his hiking group and said he would wait for another senior scout to catch up to him but went missing.  Here is the strange thing: they found his backpack in the middle of a river on an island, but no Geoffrey.  Articles of clothing inside the pack were found on the nearby rocks as if someone was taking inventory.  Unfortunately, this young boy was later found slumped near a tree with no socks and only one boot on. Even though his backpack had food and a sleeping bag, somehow this boy died covered in snow.  Bear in mind, this boy was a member of Boy Scouts and had been trained in wilderness survival.

30-year-old George Penca went hiking in Yosemite National Park with his church group on a very popular trail and was lagging behind.  The group made it back to the parking lot without George.  A massive search ensued and George was never found. The trail he was on was one of the busiest in the park.  (Missing 411, the Devil’s in the Details page 28)

The Missing 411 Idaho map. Map and photo credit David Paulides. We camped right in the middle of the state where you see that little black dot. Right near that big orange cluster. :/

Now FINALLY onto some eye candy, mountain style!

One super happy camper! Why? Because I am not afraid! 100%