Deep In The Adirondack Mountains
To this day nobody believed this story, but it needs to be told for various scientific and humanitarian reasons. When I was just a young man in the early 1990’s, I had been working for a small engineering company based in California. After many years of working for the company, putting in long twelve-hour days and weekends, the company was finally starting to expand its operations. The company had a big project in New York that needed a senior technical engineer on site. Naturally, as a young man at the time without a family, I jumped at the opportunity to live and work in New York City. I packed my bags and flew to New York City the next month. I arrived in the city and moved into my new apartment in Soho. Shortly after, work started on the development project in the Upper East Side. The city was remarkable, although dangerous back then. This was during Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s plan of aggressive policing when he was trying to clean the city up. Regardless, I was always a little paranoid coming home from the subway after a late night at the office. Before I knew it, I was settled into my new life in New York City.
Summer soon turned into fall, and the project slowly wrapped up. The project came in under budget and under cost. My seniors were very pleased indeed. Actually, the project manager was so happy with my performance; he invited me to come spend some time at his private cabin deep in the Adirondack Mountains with some colleagues. He explained the Adirondack Mountain range was bigger than all the national parks, including Yellowstone Park. The size of the park is 6.1 million acres, 1/5th the size of the entire state of New York; almost eight times the size of California’s Yosemite Park. I had gone camping in Yosemite before, and I highly enjoyed the experience. I thought it would be rude to turn down his offer, so I accepted. Nevertheless, I thought it would be a nice little vacation, and I would be able to do some networking there. The Project Manager explained the group would start hiking on Wednesday, and they would arrive at the cabin by Saturday. The cabin was so remote, a person couldn’t even get a car within thirty miles of the cabin. The rest of the way would have to be hiked, but there was one minor problem. I wasn’t officially finished with my duties for the project until Thursday. This meant, I had to hike for three nights by myself. Three nights in the wilderness of introspective relaxation seemed very appealing, so this was not a problem.
On Friday evening after work, I left the office late and went home. Occasionally, looking behind my shoulder to see if anyone was following me like usual. I gathered all my camping supplies, a heavy-duty winter sleeping bag, tent, matches, food, water and started the four-hour drive from New York City. I got out of the office very late that night and didn’t end up getting on the road until 7 p.m. The drive was about four hours long and was very scenic. Lush forests, long meandering mountain ranges, and oddly shaped lakes could be seen the entire journey there. The highway soon transformed into a small dirt road with dark forests on either side, and the crunching sound of gravel being kicked up from the car could be heard. The sunset gradually cast flurries of orange and red into the horizon, as the day was all but done. It soon became pitch black in all directions, and a million galaxies illumining the sky, could be seen. After many hours of driving, I arrived in a small town on the border of Vermont, and realized I needed to find a place to sleep for the night. According to my tattered map, this town was the closest place I could leave my car before getting on the trail. The town gave the illusion of an old country western village that would be seen from an old cowboy movie. There were countless old wooden dilapidated houses, all of them abandoned. Their front yards all had wild plants growing with long uncut grass. The streets were broken and cracked, next to similar looking sidewalks. The streets were desolated, and the place clearly once had life but now was barren. An eerie feeling crept into my stomach, this place just made me feel uneasy. Something just wasn’t right there.
As I approached an intersection in my car, there was a small bed and breakfast accommodation. I was ecstatic to find a place to stay, so I didn’t have to sleep in my car on that brisk autumn night. I drove into the parking lot, parked the car, and entered the small wooden Victorian style guest house. As I opened the creaky door, a small bell jingled, and an elderly man slowly got up from the back room.
“Are there any available rooms tonight?” I asked.
“Yes, we do.” He slowly replied as he shuffled from the backroom. Something was off about this guy.
“Perfect, I will stay here only one night, and I will make my way for the mountains at first light tomorrow”. I mentioned as the old man stumbled behind the front desk.
“Of course, they all do. Why else would you be here.” He started laughing as he fidgeted with some small keys on the wall, labeled with room numbers.
“It would seem like this town has seen better days. How long have you lived here?” I said uncomfortably, trying to make the situation less awkward.
“My whole life in fact. This place was once a bustling town believe it or not. Back in the 1950’s they had a few Garnet and Zinc mines in the area. The population was big, and It continued to grow for a decade. Then, one day the mines all closed due to the prices of Zinc and Garnet dropping so much. The effects on the town were terrible, alcoholism, poverty and family abuse. Half the town just packed their bags and left everything behind, even their children.” He spoke with a strange look on his face that made me feel uncomfortable. I thanked him and went to my room for the night. I barely slept that night, something about that old man’s story made me uneasy. Something about this place was off. From my window, a crescent moon dimly lit the long and winding mountain range. A cool breeze came through the window, and little goose bumps appeared on my arm. But not because it was cold.
The next morning the old man let me keep my car in his parking lot for a week, as long as I gave him a hefty tip. I quickly gathered all my camping gear and marched towards the looming mountain range. It projected a long shadow over the small deserted town. I walked through the decrepit town, and the road started to become inclined. As I was walking through the boarded-up houses, the face of a ragged person appeared in the window and quickly ducked out of sight. My eyes must have been playing tricks on me. That house was clearly condemned; who could possibly be living there? Eventually, at the top of the village the beginning of the mountainous area could be seen. The last of the broken-down houses in the village came into view. They lingered around the circumference of the mountain. A old rock stairwell appeared with thick trees covering it. That pathway had not been hiked in ages.
The trail had beautiful, lush woodlands with sprawling wildlife. Occasionally a large glacial lake was visible, with lengthy streams flowing outwards from the edges. The path straddled up and down the mountains and in-between valleys. Around sunset I managed to find a small clearing in the woods, which would be perfect for spending the night. These trails were too dangerous to be navigating at night because some of the paths went alongside cliffs. Also, large boulders needed to be climbed. I pitched my tent, made a small fire, and sat there thinking about life and the world. Everything was very quiet except for the sporadic crackling of the campfire; it was completely serene. Suddenly, noises began, as if something was circling around the campsite. The noises were coming from the forest outside the clearing. I shrugged it off as a curious animal. It was circling around, just outside the illuminated area from the campfire. From my previous camping experiences, strange noises at night were a common occurrence, so I wasn’t worried. I entered the tent, zipped it up, and soon fell asleep. Throughout the night, I was awoken to strange noises. It was almost as if a person was speaking, but too softly to understand, or maybe they had a strange accent. I could not quite tell. When I got up to investigate, whatever it was ran away.
At the break of dawn, I was back on the trail through the winding mountains, and I stopped at a lake for lunch. After lunch, I followed a stream about five miles towards the cabin. I had a map, and a compass to guide me towards the cabin. I hiked all day, and around dusk found a nice forested area to camp for the night. I had just finished making the camp fire when it started to lightly snow. Once again, the sound of something circling the camp fire could be heard, except this time there were multiple animal noises. I was scared; it could be a pack of wolves. One wolf is not a problem, but a pack is. Luckily, I packed a small revolver in my bag, in case I ran into a bear or wolves. The loud sound of the gun would scare them away if needed. Later that night, when I was asleep in the tent, once again the sound of leaves ruffling, and twigs snapping could be made out. As well as the same talking sounds from the night before. The strange thing was, the voices almost sounded human. It was like two people were communicating but in some primitive language. I noticed the shadow of figures appearing on the wall of my tent. They were cast from the barely surviving campfire. The silhouette of a four-legged creature lurking outside the tent, slowly materialized on the wall. It looked like a Coyote. I reached in my bag, and I grasped the wooden handle of my gun. I slowly pulled back the hammer on the gun until it snapped into place. I held the gun with both hands, and slowly squeezed the trigger. I was aiming for the shadow cast on my tent wall from the fire. The gun went off and exploded with a large crash. I missed the Coyote, but they ran off.
In the morning, the snow was melting, but I could faintly make out the shape of footprints. They were too big to be a Coyotes, yet they faintly resembled a human. I continued along the pathway and noticed what seemed to be handprints in the fresh mud outside my tent. Once again, I became paranoid. I was always a little paranoid. It was nothing too severe, but certain things triggered it. A strange look from a co-worker, a police officer driving behind me, recent crime in my neighborhood. I tried to calm myself down, there had to be a perfectly logical reason for this. Maybe a hiker fell at this point and made a fresh hand print. I took a few deep breathes and continued the trail through the lovely mountains. Tonight, would be my last night, before reaching the cabin the following morning. I packed my camping equipment, and headed back to the trail. After a few hours of hiking alongside a rugged cliff, I decided to take a break. I sat on top of a huge boulder and drank from my water canister. In the distance a large forested mountain side, sprawled endlessly. Unexpectedly, a small figure emerged on the distant peak of an adjacent mountain. It looked like a hairless wolf, but it was too far away to be clearly seen. By the time I looked through my binoculars, it was out of sight. I must have been hallucinating. I knew your mind played tricks on you when you’re alone in the woods. I stumbled back on the trail and nervously gathered myself together. By dusk, I once again found a clearing on top of a mountain. This would be my last place to camp out. The view was extraordinary, miles of untouched rugged beauty. I exhaustedly dragged myself into a small clearing with a forested area encircling it and began collecting kindling.
Just as I lit the camp fire, I heard the noises again. Leaves were ruffling, and branches were snapping in the woods outside the glow of the camp fire. The paranoia exploded in my mind, I ran into the tent and reached for my revolver. I waited. I could hear the noises getting closer. I shakily clutched my revolver, and softly pulled the hammer back, until it clicked into place. The creatures were getting closer, until all went silent. Voices began to talk, but it sounded like some sort of gibberish language. Swiftly, an eye appeared in the hole in my tent, where I shot at the previous night. It was not the eye of a wolf, but the eye of a human. Suddenly, two fingers came through the hole, and tore a huge opening. The beasts revealed themselves to be human, but more like animals. They had wild looks upon their faces, unclothed, and feral in nature. They were soiled and hairy creatures with scars all over. They were human, but walked on four legs, with a spine that curved towards the ground. They had long unkempt hair running from their head, to the bottom of their backs. Filthy and missing teeth, appeared in their savage, salivating mouths. They appeared hungry. The first one lunged through the hole, and went straight for my neck. I smashed the beast in the head with the but of my gun, and the gun fell out of my hand. The other beasts entered and started gnawing at my legs. My legs were thrashing about, trying to land a blow on the monsters. They growled in a freakishly human voice, as they lunged at me. I laid on my back, and frantically searched the left side of the tent for my hunting knife, as they painfully bit into my legs. The feral human I just hit, was getting back up when I felt the handle of my hunting knife. I thrust it forward, and stabbed the beast in the leg; it let out a mighty shriek. The remaining two animals were startled, and I bolted out of the tent. They gave chase, as I ran towards the campfire. I grabbed a flaming log from the fire. I shook the torch in their faces, but they were unfazed. One lurched forward trying to bite my arm, and I impaled him in his side with the flaming end. It let out a large cry, and it ran off into the bushes. The flame was reduced to nothing but a smoking stump, yet the other creatures was still relentless. I threw the stick in the other direction as a distraction, and dived back into the tent for my gun. As the creatures followed, I pointed the gun towards them, and pulled the trigger. The gun clicked without firing. It was jammed! Unexpectedly, more howling could be heard in the distance, and the feral humans started to quiver. They seemed paralyzed in fear. I sprinted out of the tent into the dark forest; this time the beast did not give chase. I found the closest climbable tree, and went right to the top. I could still see the campfire and surrounding area, but I was outside the visibility of it. The howling continued, and about five or six wolves came running into the camp site, but the feral creatures were gone. The wolves rummaged around the campsite, they seemed to pick up on the fresh blood scent, and scent of the others. They began to track the creatures that attacked me, and disappeared into the night after them. I remained in the tree all night, and when dawn came, I sheepishly climbed down from the tall tree. The sun was just starting to rise from the horizon, it was at the point of limbo between night and day. I walked softly on the wooded ground, expecting to be ambushed at any time. This time was different though, there was nothing. I quickly gathered my equipment, and got back on the trail. I jogged the remainder of the way with my gun and knife in hand; little did I know I would never be the same again.
I eventually made it to a gigantic lake, and followed the right side, until I came to the cabin my co-workers were staying at. As soon as I entered the camp grounds, everyone enthusiastically greeted me, and proclaimed I was some sort of hero for spending three nights alone in the wilderness. They would never discover what truly happened that day.
“Johnny you’re a hero! We never thought of you as some kind of ‘Steve Irwin’!”
“Yeah, how did you make it all the way to the cabin, without getting eaten by a bear or snake!” My drunken co-workers burst into laughter, as they sipped on whisky, and chugged beer. Soon after, more people swimming in the lake emerged to greet me.
“I went camping in California before.” I sat there quietly, and was barely able to speak.
“And so, humble too! Never a braggadocios type of guy!” The group erupted in laughter again. Then, I saw my boss approaching me, and he asked to talk to me in private. We began to walk over to a secluded side of the campsite.
“John, we had an government official visit the campsite last night.” He had an uneasy look on his face.
“wha… why?”. My stomach began to feel uneasy.
“Are you aware the pathway you took is a civilian restricted area? The official wanted to know if you were part of our group, and of course I said you were not.” A worried look could be seen on his face.
“There must be chemical contamination from the mining days.” I tried to say, without revealing my lie.
“What did you see John!”. He franticly replied.
“Nothing… nothing strange at all.” I said.
“Very well John.” He began walking back to the campsite.
The rest of the time spent at the cabin was uneventful. I decided not to tell anyone about what happened. They would all think I’m crazy. I could imagine them all sitting around the watercooler at work, slapping their knees laughing about how John went crazy. I would be the laughing stock of the company. I would probably be fired. My supervisor actually paid for a chartered helicopter, which picked us up, and dropped us off at a parking lot, where everyone was parked. My supervisor drove me to the small town where I parked my car, and we said our goodbyes. Before I left, the old man stumbled out of the guest house to greet me, and he asked me if I saw “them”. As he laughed at me in a raspy manner. I told him, I didn’t understand what he meant, as I hurried to my car and peeled out of the parking lot. When I got back to New York City, I went to the central library, and did some research on what I saw. Historically, there has been many scientifically studied cases of feral children. They are children abandoned at a young age, and were raised on their own in the wilderness or by animals. Sometimes they are taken in by wolves, or other animals, and closely mimic their behaviors. They turned out more beast than human. There was a famous case of a girl named Oxana Malaya from the Ukraine, if you’re interested. I also looked up some old newspapers from the town. Apparently after the mines closed, the economic devastation was so horrible, children were just abandoned in the woods, and left to fend for themselves. That was over forty years ago though, and those feral children I saw in the woods looked young.
Thank You For Reading!