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%

“The Woods went Silent”

Stories of people who go (almost) missing in the woods under very strange circumstances

(#Missing411 backstories)

Many backpackers, hikers, campers, dog walkers, hunters, etc. go missing in the forests (and national parks) under strange circumstances. Still, others go almost missing in the woods. After they safely exit the woods, they tell roughly the same story. Read on.

When I was a teenager, I worked at a Christian summer camp/resort, located in the rural foothills of the Adirondack mountains in upstate New York. One night very late, like 2 a.m. late, several of us teenage kids snuck out of camp and found a dirt road out in the middle of the woods, where we proceeded to engage in some underage drinking. We were all sitting around in a small circle, just talking and laughing, when suddenly, an extremely loud and terrifying scream split the quiet night air just off the path where we were all huddled on the ground. 

It was the most terrifying moment of my entire life!

The scream, or shriek, was so loud, long, intense and creepy that our entire group spontaneously lifted two feet off the ground and flew off the path, away from the scream. We tumbled down a small incline and landed together in a heap.

As we were all crying and freaking out in a little clump together, we were left with the following question:

What the hell was that scream in the woods?

We never did figure that out, but I remember that the scream was a sound like I had never heard, it was too long and loud and other-worldly to be an animal, and it was definitely not a human scream. There were no footfalls preceding the scream, or after the scream took place. Looking back, I believe it was supernatural or paranormal in nature.

Fast forward to my adult years. I love the outdoors and my husband and I have been backpacking to very remote, forested locations for 25 years annually. For the last several years, we have also brought our three kids out with us into the middle of nowhere for our family’s annual three day, two night backpacking trip.

We camped at this lake last year (2020) in the beautiful state of Wyoming!

And although we have never had any major problems in the woods, I was shocked to learn that there are a disturbingly large number of hikers, campers, and people just out walking their dogs or hunting in the forests near their home, who either go missing, or almost missing, in the woods under baffling circumstances

You can learn all about this phenomena by googling Missing 411 and David Paulides.  He has written several books available on his website (https://www.canammissing.com/page/page/8396197.htm) and produced two documentaries. David is a former police detective who was approached by a forest ranger several years ago about very strange disappearances in the woods.  Many of these disappearances occur in National Parks (where we regularly hike!) and in clusters around the United States (in other words, disappearances will occur in the same general area). These disappearances also share common traits, such as the person who goes missing has some sort of a vulnerability (like a physical disability), and bad weather events often accompany these disappearances. 

To be clear, I’m not talking about missing hikers who go off trail and end up lost in the woods, who are later found.

Instead, I am talking about people who are right in front of their loved ones one moment, and then the next moment they vanish into thin air, never to be seen again.  Or, they are found many miles away (sometimes alive, sometimes dead) from their last location, in a place that is absolutely impossible to reach.  Or, even more eerily, not a trace of the missing person is ever found, but their clothing is found months later in a random cave in a place that is extremely difficult to get to, several miles from where they were last seen, folded into a neat pile (please see my P.S. at the end of this post for more information on this). 

In one story, a 12 year old boy disappeared after telling his dad he was going to change his socks and shoes after they got wet. He proceeded up a well-marked trail a short distance to get back to his boy scout troop and his tent, and was never seen again. His one wet sock, and only his one wet sock, was found extremely far away, wedged into a crack between two boulders. 

And that’s just one story among hundreds of similarly bizarre and eerie stories that make no sense and leave us all wondering what is going on in the woods.

In a future post, I will write about Missing 411 stories and give you my take on these events.  But in this post, I want to write about the other very real phenomena of people who go almost missing in the woods.  

Just like with Missing 411 stories, these eye-witness stories share common attributes that cannot be ignored.  

Consider this post the prequel or back-story to the Missing 411 stories.

In order to illustrate the common themes that I have heard (and read) countless times (based on internet searches and multiple podcasts I listen to), here is just one story that I believe encapsulates the common attributes of most of these almost missing stories. I have bolded the commonalities for ease of reading. 

Almost Missing Stories:

The following stories are retold by Nic Ryan on his Paranormal Mysteries podcast #66 (and others), found here: https://tunein.com/podcasts/Paranormal-Podcasts/Paranormal-Mysteries-Podcast-p990107/. 

This particular story comes from a reddit user named u/cacophonica who lives in the state of Missouri. 

“The minute I stared trekking through the creek bed, my pit bull Fatty started whining. I ducked under the trees, shushed Fatty and stopped to listen to the woods surrounding us. I heard nothing. I heard literally nothing. No wind, no snapping twigs, not even any birds. Then, I began to feel really weird. I can’t really describe it as a gut feeling, but suddenly my body felt very queasy and over sensitive, and worse, I had the distinct feeling that I was being watched. Fatty was scared and trembling. Call it being an edgy teenager or anything else, but I felt this strange pull into the woods. There was no sound but I felt like something was calling me, luring me deeper into the woods. I walked forward, aware that my dog had firmly planted himself at the fallen trees. He was shaking all over and yelped at me as I walked away, but he didn’t come with me. He also didn’t leave, which I believe potentially saved my ass that day.

I left Fatty behind and eventually got to the part of the creek that I had never been to. It was a clearing with a ring of trees surrounding it, with the creek stretching far ahead and going around an unseen corner. The sun hadn’t moved and it was still silent. I stood in place for a minute and considered turning around. The clearing was creepy and felt devoid of everything. I felt like if I walked around that corner, which was just about 100 feet away, that something terrible would happen. It felt like something was just waiting for me to walk into it, unsuspecting.

I took a couple more steps, and suddenly I heard my dog yelping frantically behind me. He kept lunging forward, but wouldn’t move any distance forward. I finally realized that something was very wrong. I turned around again to look back at the clearing. It was pitch black outside. I shit you not. Seconds ago the sun wasn’t even close to going down below the horizon, and now the stars were out. No sun. No light.

I stared hard at the trees around the corner, seeing nothing but elongated shadows. I heard a twig snap. All of a sudden my ears started to ring, and panic flooded my entire body.

I whipped around and shot back towards the fallen trees, sprinting towards my dog. He was snarling and barking like mad, and when I ducked under the trees, both of us sprinted back towards the house.

The entire time I felt like I had death on my heels, and Fatty never once ran ahead of me, staying right at my side the entire way back.When I made it home I checked the clock. During a walk that usually took ten minutes, I had been gone three hours

To this day I have never felt so prowled upon in the woods. I don’t know what wanted me in the woods that day. I didn’t see what it was and it said nothing to me, but I ignored every natural instinct I had to run until it was almost too late. My dog being there may have been the reason I didn’t wander deep into the woods of (Seligman) Missouri and succumb to someone or something in the dark. I have never told anyone in my waking life about this.”


From another reddit user called uclathemach, and also recounted in Nik Ryan’s Paranormal Mysteries podcast #66, comes an experience that happened on a camping trip with his youth group in the state of New Hampshire. At the end of the two day trip, he took a walk by himself down a hill to an area with a make-shift archery range, in order to tear it down. He made a pile of garbage to bring back to camp, and was about to head back, when he says that all the sounds in the forest just suddenly ceased, as if a curtain of silence had just fallen down behind him. He then says that he could sense some sort of a humming sensation.  He goes on to relay the following:

“For some inexplicable reason I had snapped my head to the right, and noticed there was an area with thinner brush, like an opening, and I started walking toward it, like I was being drawn. I could feel the pull to go deeper into the woods grow much stronger.  Looking ahead, the woods were in deep shadow, with a strange group of four trees about 75 feet away, lit by a shaft of light, beaming at an angle from above. The light was a very strange golden color. The bases of the trees were glowing, in a beckoning way, with the rest of the woods in shadow, and the trees lit up.  The compulsion to investigate the four trees was almost overwhelming. The thought of “come see; come quickly; come right now!” was insistent.  My head was pounding, like a headache without the pain. As I was about to take another step forward, another separate feeling from the depths of my being started screaming at me to stop immediately. In an instant, viscerally, I knew that despite how enticing this call was, if I proceeded forward towards those trees, I would be lost to the world.”


The following three mini-stories are the highlights from longer stories written in by eye-witnesses and then retold via Nic Ryan’s Paranormal Mysteries podcast.

“The trail markers suddenly disappeared, and a wall of silence fell on the forest. The silence was broken by a large, startling snap! There were trees I didn’t see. Certain plants that I know for sure that weren’t there before. My eyes started to fixate on a particularly un-nerving dark section of the forest. Every alarm bell in my head was pinging. My senses were not working anymore. Whatever light was in this area seemed to bend around this central point, somewhat like how a cloaking device works. It was a minor distortion, but enough to make it strangely obvious. I then noticed how I hadn’t heard a peep from the forest this entire time, and I was feeling very cold. I couldn’t shake the feeling of impending doom.”


“That was when things began to feel very weird. I no longer felt uneasy. But instead, I felt this deep peace, like I was asleep and dreaming. I kept putting one foot in front of the other and climbing the mountain, but it was like I was in a trance, not making the decision to continue, but instead, being drawn upwards. We kept walking in total silence. That sound (like a drum-beat) was pounding and getting louder. I looked at the (water) falls and felt an intense longing to continue on further up the mountain. We were still for such a long time, until finally my cousin said “I think if we keep going, we don’t ever come back.”


“So I’m taking pictures of wild horses, and I hear “hey, come here,” seemingly to come to the right of me.  I look and that part of the forest is deeper, and I couldn’t see anything standing or hiding that way.  Sky (the writer’s dog) on the other hand heard it and jerked that way in the lead.“Come closer, this way!” I focused myself to look through the trees and long grass and there was now a simple stone path that weirdly didn’t have any grass or growth around it. But I could clearly see a cobbled path. So, Sky and I started making our way down the path.  I didn’t notice anything at the time but I could hear Sky whimpering and nothing else.  It was like all the other sound was muted. I was in some weird sort of haze. “Just a bit further,” a woman’s voice whispered to us while giggling. Sky then shook me out of my trance by stopping, putting her hackles up, and growling at something. I shook my head and suddenly the haze and confusion disappeared.  We were still on the path, but I had a very weird sense of dread starting to creep over me and we ran back to the clearing.“Come back!” A woman screamed at us, as it seemed to follow and echo around us. We made it to the clearing and back to the cabin. We were only in the woods for what seemed like an hour. But it was now 9 p.m. and I have no recollection of the missing time we had encountered” (Nic Ryan’s Paranormal Mysteries podcast number #128)


“One night I was heading back from an after-school walk, when I heard someone say my name.  “Johnny come here!” It was like my mom’s voice, but distorted.  I wasn’t far from the cabin, so I assumed maybe she was calling out for me.  So, I rushed home but once the house was in view, I stopped. I noticed that the sound was still going but was angry now. “Johnny, come here, now!” I knew then that the voice was not my mom’s.  I could have sworn I heard crunching leaves behind me but I turned around and nothing was there.”  (Unexplained Encounters podcast: (August 5, 2021 podcast).  Source here: https://www.audible.com/pd/Darkness-Prevails-Podcast-TRUE-Horror-Stories-Podcast/B08K57L776)

As you can see, the above stories have common threads of weirdness that some have encountered in the woods. And here are those similar threads, in bullet-point form (as I love bullets):

  • The woods will suddenly go silent
  • Your dog (or animal) will start acting weird, stressed, or scared.
  • You feel like you are being watched. You will also feel dread or fear.
  • You may feel confused, locked in a strange trance, or under a spell.
  • Your surrounding will seem “off.”
  • A new path that you have never seen will suddenly appear.  
  • You will have a strong sense, or even an overwhelming urge, to explore deeper into the woods. 
  • You might take a few more steps, but then something will stop you.  
  • After you exit the woods, you will encounter the problem of lost time. 

Let me get into detail about a couple of the common attributes above that I believe are important to highlight.

The forest becomes strangely silent:

I realize that the forest can and will go silent if a large predator is in the area (like a cougar, bear, or wolf, etc.).  I am not saying that this is not the case at times.  In those events, there are still a few sounds to be heard (like crickets, the wind, etc.).  And usually, there are no other mysterious occurrences that go along with this silence. I am talking about a creepy, all-encompassing silence that brings along several other mysterious signals with it. 

Your surroundings seem off or strange:

Here are just a few of the occurrences based on several stories I have heard. The trees or the surroundings will look or act strange; for example, you may notice new plants you have never seen or a beautiful tree in the middle of a clearing that looks particularly enchanting. You might notice a bad odor, for example the smell of blood, matted fur, sulfur, wet dog, rotting corpse, etc. You might hear a strange sound like a low and deep growl, the snapping of a twig, a whistle, a baby crying, a person whispering, or a drumbeat.  You might even hear a familiar voice calling to you from the woods (the voice of your wife, mom, friend, sister, husband or your camp counselor. I have heard all of these and more).

Something will stop you:

I believe this is the Spirit of God who is trying to protect you. Or at the very least your own gut instincts trying to protect you. Maybe you get scared. Maybe the bark of your dog pulls you back to reality.  Maybe you develop a sense of sudden clarity about the insanity of this moment. Maybe God speaks into your spirit and tells you to TURN AROUND AND RUN. In one of the stories above, the young camper had the impression that if he kept going deeper into the woods, he would be “lost to this world.” Lost to this world is the exact phrase that kept pinging around in his head, so he decided it was time to turn back.

Lost Time:

Once you safely exit the woods, you might experience the real and unexplainable phenomena of lost time.  Lost time is, in a nutshell, not being able to logically account for the amount of time something takes compared to what it normally takes. For example, walking your dog on a trail you have walked many times which normally takes you one hour, after the bizarre event, will take you four hours to complete. You will have no logical recollection of that time period.  

Before we move on to what is going on and what can be done, I will summarize the common themes for ease of remembering: 

Woods Silent/Dog Crazy/Dread or Fear /Being Watched/ Weird Trance/ Can’t Think/ Trees Strange/ Bad Smell/ New Path/ Twig Snaps/ Name called/Feeling Drawn/Something Scary/Something Odd/Something Alluring/ Don’t Keep Going/Turn Around/Yay You’re Out/Lost Time.

What is really going on in the woods?

Before I give my theory, consider the following: David Paulides (the police detective I mentioned earlier) does not give an answer or opinion of what he thinks is happening with respect to all of the Missing 411 stories he has investigated over the years, but he theorizes that something is hunting or stalking these missing men and women in the woods. I just ordered two out of seven (or nine) books he has written so I can’t wait to figure out what he has figured out.

But after listening to and reading countless almost missing and missing 411 stories, I believe that this is a paranormal/supernatural/spiritual problem and needs to be handled using spiritual methods. Sure, be cautious.  Sure, bring a rifle. Sure, bring a map, compass, extra flashlight, extra food, extra water (or water pump). Do what you need to do to feel safe.  However, if this is a spiritual problem, which I believe it is, then these items I just listed, while wonderful, will not be enough.

There are two power sources in this universe; the power of God, and the power of the devil.  I believe that in some of these cases, people are being lured, stalked, hunted, frightened, or just plain watched and observed by demons or demonic beasts or someone using evil methods in the forests and beyond.  I also believe that in some of the cases, it is the work of a serial killer. However, for those cases that occur in the middle of the woods, I believe that the chances of a serial killer lurking and waiting 12 miles off grid is extremely rare. I will get more into all of this this in my next post.

What can you do?

My first suggestion is to pray.  Pray that God will protect and help you and/or your family (or friends) before you head into the woods. Pray specifically that God will protect you from the evil one and his evil spirits. Secondly, if you are a believer in Jesus Christ, there are additional things that you can do using the power and authority of Jesus Chirst. You have the authority to rebuke demons and make them go in Jesus’s name. You can also anoint your campsite with olive oil or even cooking oil and pray for God to seal and protect your campsite. 

And now that you know the first sign of trouble (hint: the title of this blog post) pray out loud right away if things start to get weird. 

I plan to write a follow-up post on Missing 411 stories, and I will get more into practical advice at that time. I will also dig into demonic creatures and what they are. Did you know that demonic beasts are actually a very real thing and there are Bible verses about these creatures?  Unfortunately, it is true. 

My goal for writing this post is not for you to never set foot in the woods again.  I love the forest, and I love hiking! I plan to keep hiking well into my 90s if I am able. My desire is that you continue to enjoy the woodlands but be kept safe while you do so.

And to be clear, I think it is a very rare and unusual thing to have any of these weird supernatural events occur on your family’s backpacking trip, or if you are out walking or hunting in your woods. 

However, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that we are living in very strange times.  Things are changing rapidly and many things that were once considered “normal” are gone, and our “new normal” is here. 

I would rather be prepared for any event. I hope you feel this way as well. So please, keep on enjoying the beauty and serenity of the deep forests of the U.S and Canada and beyond! 

But my one take-away for you is to ask God to protect you before you venture into the woods. And if something crazy starts to happen, stop right away by praying out loud, right there in the middle of the forest.

Pray something like this: “God please protect me from whatever weird thing is happening right now. In Jesus name, Amen.” That’s it!

Stunning. This is why we go!
This past summer (2021) we camped at Hell Roaring Lake in the Sawtooth mountains of Idaho.

I will close with a story that I believe illustrates the direct intervention of God in an almost missing story. 

The quick backstory is as follows: a young boy became lost in the woods near his home in Europe. This boy had played in these woods his whole life and knew them like the back of his hand.  He had a feeling that something was compelling him to go deeper into the woods. He then heard what sounded like crashing branches and it sounded like something heavy was walking around. He writes:

I was praying while searching my way around desperately. Something in my head was screaming at me to turn around, and I listened.  And what I am about to tell you, it’s true, but it’s going to sound very bizarre. When I turned, I saw a man in a white long dress, with long white sleeves and dark hair. When I saw him, I felt even more of a sense of relief. It was like I was safe as long as he was here. He raised his hand and pointed to the left of where I was standing. “That way?” I said.  He nodded.  I looked at where he was pointing and back at him, but when I tried to face him again, the man was gone. Scared out of my mind, I started running in the direction he pointed and, five minutes later, I broke through the trees. When I was finally out, I realized I was on the opposite side of the forest. Somehow, in that short time, I had walked several kilometers in the wrong direction. I made my way back home and later told this story to my grandma, and of course she told my parents, who were not happy about what I did. For a long time, I was not allowed in the forest. However, when I did tell my grandma about the man, she looked at me, and said that maybe it was my guardian angel.  (Unexplained Encounters podcast, number 207.)

I think that Grandma could be right!

Let’s all stay safe and continue to enjoy the forest!  

And if the woods suddenly go silent, you know what to do.


UPDATE: I have just released (as of October 6, 2022) my brand new Missing 411 post, which is the next post in this short series! What is happening with hikers, campers, and normal everyday people who go missing under strange but similar circumstances? Find out here: Missing 411: A pebble in my hiking boot

Common elements of Missing 411 from Reddit user xofiate:

  1. People who go missing usually do so in National Parks, around large bodies of water, or near boulder fields.
  2. People from both ends of the intellectual spectrum go missing (e.g. people who have intellectual divergencies or disabilities go missing, as well as individuals who work careers as scientists, etc).
  3. People from both ends of the 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).
  4. If the missing individual is found alive, they usually have memory loss about the entire event. Children sometimes tell weird stories about how they went missing. I recall one where a toddler went missing on a rather cold night and somehow survived. She claimed a wolf fed her berries from the palm of it’s hand and that’s how she survived.
  5. 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.
  6. The missing are found in areas that seem difficult – if not impossible – to reach by foot, or in the time that has lapsed. 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, such as mountains, 2,000 ft in the air. Sometimes the children have their clothes on backwards or inside out, and their parents claim that they can’t even dress themselves yet.
  7. The missing are found in an area that’s been searched by Search and Rescue 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. Search and Rescue teams are meticulous about their searches.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. Search ans 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. They’ll circle and then sit down. This is not common behavior for SAR canines.
  11. 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. Animal attacks are rules out by experts.
  12. 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 by their own accord.

Hope you enjoyed your rabbit hole for the day and thanks for reading and your ongoing support!

Mountain sunsets are the best!
After we ‘safely made it out the woods’ this past summer, we immediately sat for a family photo shoot!
Our three kids and our two host kids from Ukraine!