This happened while I was in the Mendocino National Forest. My friend Kyle and I were trying to get up into a flat area above the tree line and we got there really late thanks to him not being ready to go so we were really pushing it up the trail trying to make camp before dark. Kile hikes way faster than I do, so he got way out ahead of me by, and by the time I got to where the main trail forks off up a beaten boot path would take us up into the camp spot he was nowhere to be seen.
So there were no campsites near where I stopped I went back for about 1/2 of a mile to the Eel River where there were established campsites right along the trail.
After maybe an hour kile shows up having realized his mistake this is well after dark and we settled in not really knowing our surroundings that well it was a decent sized open area though likely an old cabin site because the trail is popular for families to come up but we encountered no other tents set up so we set up our own tents ate then went to bed.
I never usually sleep well when backpacking but for whatever reason, I was sort of lucid at best for a little while just listening to the sounds outside the tent and trying not to freak myself out about the possible creatures and man-eating beasts lurking in the woods every time I heard a branch snap or a branch fall from a tree.
So maybe two or so hours after I went to bed this would have been maybe 1:30 in the morning I start hearing a very noticeable sound of really hefty footsteps around my campsite may be as much as 20 feet away.
Other than these occasional footsteps it’s basically dead silent no crickets or rustling of bushes or anything just drop dead silence. That silence was instantly shattered by the most terrifying sound I have ever heard in my life. It was as intense as staring a tiger in the face while roaring but deeper and more like a banshee. Almost like a cross between a wolf howling and a lion’s roar loud enough that it echoed off the mountains on the opposite ridge. Immediately after this noise, this creature went hauling off into the woods crashing through the bushes the forest I could see when I set up camp was basically covered in head high blackberry bushes but remained running around in earshot for at least two minutes running back and forth sometimes getting distinctly closer sometimes getting further away.
All this time it sounded like it was a creature with two legs running around. This whole time my heart was doing about 300mph and I was sure I was going to be eaten by a bear or bigfoot. After a couple of seconds the steps faded and it fell to silence again and I never heard anything else for the rest of the night. I probably lay awake for at least another 30 minutes before I finally fell asleep. Kile didn’t hear anything. In the morning when I woke up, I scanned the area and there was a wide-open area that led down to a small bank at nearby the river to see if there was any evidence of what the noise was. Turns out there were fresh deer prints in the dirt near the river and maybe 10 to 20 feet away was a big print of like a humanoid creature I could never forget. So likely something was creeping up on one of the deer that walked near my campsite and sacred it in the middle of the night and caused it to freak the hell out. At least that’s what I hope it was. Hope…..