kinda morbid 

reading horror and remembering, "oh yeah, that one time I found a tent full of bones in the woods".

good times, good times.

kinda morbid, the story 

I'm pretty sure I've told this before, but:

OK, so, I live in western Oregon. In fall, out here, one of the popular pursuits is mushroom hunting. Out in the coastal range, in particular, you can get chanterelles and king boletes. Both are easy to identify safely and safe to eat.

The partner (back when he was still the BFF) and one of my coworkers (we'll call him John) decided that we were going to go out hunting.

kinda morbid, the story 

We load up into the partner's old Honda CRV and take off toward the mountains. We stop in a few spots -- I find some chanterelles at a place outside of Newport, and neither the partner nor John find anything. We're all carrying folding knives and brushes, and we're dressed for rain, because it's overcast and awful outside.

Finally, John speaks up and goes, "I've heard that you can find good king boletes out near the dunes."

kinda morbid, the story 

Florence is semi-famous, at least locally, for its sand dunes. (See: fs.usda.gov/recarea/siuslaw/re)

I don't know if anyone reading this has been there, but it's a beautiful, if strange, place -- you basically go from forest to these gigantic sand dunes.

This was during the government shutdown in October of 2013. We chose the national forest land because we figured that they wouldn't be enforcing the usual "you have to pay to park" -- we were broke-ass grad students, so.

kinda morbid, the story 

It's important to note that this was during the shutdown. Normally they have rangers checking the roads regularly, looking for cars and illegal camping, but because of the shutdown, they had a bare-bones staff. Patrols were limited and they weren't issuing tickets for anything except the REALLY big stuff (driving on the dunes in areas you weren't supposed to, etc).

It was dead fuckin' quiet. Bad weather, no one out.

kinda morbid, the story 

We find a scrubby little stand of trees and the partner parks the car. John hops out and says that he's going to walk along the road, and the partner goes, "You take one side and I'll take the other."

I say, "Okay, I'm going to check further back in the woods."

We all have cell phones, though none of us have service.

They both set off, and I can hear them yelling back and forth across the road at each other. I shrug and go into the woods.

kinda morbid, the story 

I have a really good sense of direction and I have spent a lot of time in the forest. I have never gotten lost, even in the deep woods. I can always find my way back. John and the partner knew that, and they both trusted that I would be fine. I was dressed for the weather, I had a phone, neither of them batted an eyelash when I said I was going off alone.

I walk into the woods and immediately something feels...off.

kinda morbid, the story 

It's a common thread in a lot of stories like this, but it's absolutely true: the woods are rarely silent. You'll hear birds and stuff, even in winter.

It was dead quiet here.

I figured that it was because I was near the road, and so I decided to push further in.

The coastal forest in Oregon isn't what you think of when you think of 'forest' -- it is very scrubby, full of undergrowth, and bushy. It can be difficult to walk through, let alone walk through quietly.

kinda morbid, the story 

I am tramping through the woods, going slowly and looking at the ground to see if I can see any signs of mushroom growth. I am not making a *lot* of noise, but I am making some.

As I get further into the woods, I realize that it's still quiet. I attribute this to the fact that I'm walking through the bracken. I'm trying not to make a lot of noise, but I'm making *some*, and it's likely scaring the birds, etc.

So I don't worry about it.

kinda morbid, the story 

I've been wandering in, deeper and deeper away from the road, for probably 15-20 minutes. I haven't found any mushrooms, and I'm about to turn around and leave when I push forward through a screen of small trees and find myself in a clearing.

Sitting in the middle of the clearing is a tent. It was old and weather-beaten and had clearly been set up for quite a while. There were rips in the sides and moss growing on it.

"Oh," I thought. "Someone left their tent behind."

kinda morbid, the story 

It looked -- old. Like it wasn't being used. Again, it was nasty weather out at the coast, cold and wet, and this wasn't a tent that would keep you dry (one of the most important things to factor in when camping in winter).

The front flap was open.

I am a curious person by nature. I'm a scientist, I can't help it.

I *should* have helped it.

I took another two steps forward to see what was inside the tent. I figured it would be full of garbage.

I was wrong.

kinda morbid, the story 

The tent was full of bones. What kind, I couldn't say. Whatever it was had been butchered recently. There was still blood (dried) and gore (also mostly dried) on the bones.

It was at that moment I realized two things:

1). The smell of the woods was undercut with a scent of decay. Not normal, woodsy decay, but rotting flesh smell. Corpse smell.

2). The woods had gone from being silent to being full of the sound of buzzing flies.

kinda morbid, the story 

I slowly turned around in the clearing, and I finally looked up from the ground -- where I'd kept my eyes fixed, still looking for mushrooms -- to the trees.

There was a deer skull hanging from one of the trees.

There were other bones strung up in the trees, too, along with tiny mirrors hanging from the branches, tied with fishing line.

I froze.

When I heard a branch break, as though it had been stepped on, I fled.

kinda morbid, the story 

I didn't go out the way I'd gone in. Again -- I have good woods-sense, and I had been walking in sort of a meandering fashion. I fled through the trees, in a straight line back to the road.

On my flight through the trees, I ran past a pile of (presumably) deer entrails. There were more bones and more gore. Some were newer than others. I don't think all were deer bones -- some might have been elk or something else, but I didn't stop to look.

kinda morbid, the story 

I made it to the road and ran across John and the partner. They'd found a bunch of king boletes and were incredibly happy. They wanted to share what they'd found with me.

I stood with them for a moment and we talked about whether we were near the mushroom limit. I thought about telling them about the tent, but I was still processing what I'd seen, and I was afraid that maybe I'd been followed. It didn't feel like a safe time to say anything.

kinda morbid, the story 

Within about three minutes of me meeting up with them, we were stopped by a National Forest Service ranger, who asked us what we were doing in the woods, and advised us to move on. She ran our IDs, gave us a warning, and told us to leave.

When we got back to the car all we talked about was the ranger. I mentioned that I'd found a tent, and they made fun of me for being scared.

kinda morbid, the story 

I mentioned the bones, and John said that I'd probably come across the camp of someone who had been poaching. "If they weren't there, and you weren't a forest ranger, you had nothing to worry about."

(Because, of course, an angry poacher with a gun is someone that you wouldn't be scared to meet in the woods, but I digress.)

kinda morbid, the story 

I didn't mention the deer skull nailed to a tree, or the bones that were hanging from fishing line, the tiny mirrors.

I don't know that they would have believed me, and anyway, if a tent full of bones and rotting deer carcass wasn't enough for them...

kinda morbid, the story 

It's been seven years this month since I went out there and found the bone tent.

I think now, with the wisdom of hindsight, that it must have been a poacher, or someone engaging in a grow-op. I was deep in the woods, and it's likely that they wanted to scare whomever it was that came across their site.

But not all of the bones were deer bones and sometimes I wonder.

kinda morbid, the story 

The Pacific Northwest is notorious for how many serial killers we have spawned.

Dozens of people go missing each year.

I never heard anything about it on the news. I should have told the ranger, maybe, but she was my age, shorter than I was, and not carrying a weapon.

I could find the site again if I wanted to. I am good in the woods, and my memory is sharp. If that clearing is still there, I could find it.

But I don't want to.

kinda morbid 

@Taweret haha, yeah. I think I've talked about it on here before, was out in the coastal range near Florence, OR.

kinda morbid 

@Taweret oh man, I guess it's story time? lol.

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kinda morbid, the story 

@hafnia the mirrors though??? extra creepy 😱

kinda morbid, the story 

@hafnia What if ... what if ... the person who did all the bone stuff was actually the ranger, and she did follow you? And she had a nice excuse to clear you out of her territory, being a ranger and all?

Not likely, but, the kind of thing that does cross my mind when you think someone might be following you and then someone promptly shows up. Still unlikely though.

kinda morbid, the story 

@clifstan it would make a great story, but some of the details don't support it (she drove up in a forest service truck and because of the woods and what the roads were like, she literally couldn't have gotten to me by car that fast). Would make a great plot point in a movie tho :D

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