JULY 2, 2015
One of our first excursion to the remote wilderness areas of New Mexico got creepy really quick.
We camped out in the El Malpais region of New Mexico. First we started in Dark Lobo Canyon (it got renamed, for obvy reasons) and couldn’t sleep all night. We kept hearing howling and our dog whined for most of the night. In the morning, we found drag marks and warnings about “large predators” in the area. The fact we set camp late at night obscured the obvious: That NOONE had camped in this canyon for at least a year. As we tried to make breakfast and get settled in, our larger dog (who was on a lead attached to the camper and trying to poop) came running out from the brush crazy and ran into the camper, crawled up into the bed and trembled. At that point, we heard a large cry that was NOT a wolf, but sounded way too bass to be a mountain lion. Being creeped out, we headed south to the actual El Malpais National Monument. It was beautiful and calm, and we didn’t feel creeped out. We hiked a few short trails, but our older big dog was NOT having it. He was usually quite curious, and loved hiking in the desert. He stayed up that night as well. Sleepless and annoyed that my dog was being soo wigged out, I awoke in the early morning hours to watch the sun rise. As I opened the door to the camper, I opened it to the expansive view of the El Malpais, and saw large grey/black canine type figures rushing across the main road. They were running away from me, and I was less scared and more curious. They looked like REALLY BIG coyotes. Thinking nothing of it, I started to cook breakfast and set down to share my eggs and steak with the dogs. Suddenly, we heard a group of coyotes howling at the edge of the canyon. It sounded like 30 of them. With that, again, my big dog dropped his piece of bacon, crawled into the camper, brining his leash and all the desert dust in with him. But then we heard something else. We heard the same thing we heard in Lobo Canyon, the loud, long, deep howl that didn’t sound like it belonged to any known creature. Now both my dogs were trembling, our older dog actually peed on the camper, and my husband was DONE. He decided we were going to try to find a “less weird” place to camp out.
I want to say, during this whole time, I wasn’t necessarily creeped out or scared, I was more fascinated, I really wanted to know what the howl was, I wanted to know the source. I felt drawn to explore in Lobo, and now I was feeling drawn to explore the direction the howl came from. It was my husband and my dogs that pushed me into the reality of “that ain’t a good idea”.
We drove North, and with my map and smartphone open, I decided we NEEDED to stop at the Continental Divide Trail (CDT) pass through in Grants. I don’t know why we needed to stop at this particular spot, I had been to the CDT in the past, but I really wanted to go.
We pulled into this CDT Trail section head and the parking lot was empty. It was dead silent, and even though there was tons of activity about a mile down the road (it was a holiday weekend), it was like time was standing still in this spot.
The dogs didn’t want to get out of the camper, and I decided to leave them behind.
As I walked through the CDT Trail entrance, the metal swing gate wasn’t locked, but it was so hard to move. It resisted, not like it was rusted, but just like it was frozen in place. I kicked the gate with my foot and proceeded. My husband and I started to hike up the ridge, with the camper in view below.
About 1/4 up the trail, we came to a low-hanging tree, and encountered a gross stench. It smelled of human feces, and something…else?
I looked in the tree and noticed a pair of men’s underwear hanging in it. For a place that looked like it didn’t get many visitors, this was a pretty “fresh” find. I maneuvered around it and my husband ducked. As he was about to say “Ok, that’s gross let’s get ou—” -we spotted something else. Sneakers. NEW ones, One was unlaced, and the other looked like it had been ripped off a foot. About four feet from that, a pair of sweatpants made out of that shiny basketball-shorts material. And a foot from that, a ripped t-shirt.
At this point, both of us are barely breathing. Mostly out of fear, but also because the smell is getting worse. I turn the corner around a bush and right in front of the ripped t-shirt is a torn apart backpack and the carcass of the largest wolf I have ever seen. It’s fresh, like days old.
One of it’s feet is touching the t-shirt. There’s a rock next to it’s head, a rock bashed into it’s abdomen, two large sticks next to it as if those may have been used to beat this thing to death. Some of it’s skin is peeled back. It’s as though this “creature” shed it’s clothing, and then was attacked by two individuals.
The air is solid, the bugs stop making noise, everything isn’t just “weird” it’s unnerving. We don’t talk, we just look at this thing and try to take in everything we’re looking at.
And then we hear the howl. That deep, guttural, unnatural howl. And it’s right around the rise on this foothill. It’s too close. I turn to face the direction of the howl, and it happens again but shorter and louder. We’re not able-bodied hikers, but before I knew it my husband was grabbing my hand and dragging me down the trail. I’m yelling and trying to go towards the howl, and towards the wolf. I snapped a picture before being whisked down the trail and thrown in the camper.
My husband was trying to start the van (which had just gotten a tune-up because we weren’t about to drive 400 miles without making sure the camper was good). The camper van stalled. I’m a little more car-savvy that most women, but it didn’t make sense. It was like the battery went dead, because the time was blinking and the low “click-click” sound emmitted from the ignition. At the same time, a truck peeled in behind us and spun out into the highway, taking off and leaving the camper circled in a cloud of dust. The camper van started and we peeled out of there in the same fashion. Neither of us said anything to each other for about 30 minutes. And the first thing we did say to each other was “WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT?”
Fast-forward about 6 months later. I’m finally making friends in New Mexico at a new job and befriended a local girl from the Laguna Pueblo right outside Grants. I told her about my experience and she just looks at me pale and said “You were being tested by a Skinwalker. The fact you were being called to it is really weird. That don’t happen too often.” I tried to press her for more, but she never spoke about it again. But she did always take an interest in my reaction to some of the more spiritual and weird stuff in the desert that she showed me (like old churches, sacred sites, and spots that have a reputation of being malevolent to “colonists”). The fact I enjoyed those places and miss them still eats at me.
The experience bothers me to this day, like I wish I had actually gone after the howl. I don’t know how to explain it, but it’s like that area still “calls” to me.
Submitted by CreepGeeks Podcast