Here we are in the 21st Century, wired and wireless, tuned into the web and the tweet-o-sphere, skeptical of everything, and yet our fantasies still involve tales of darkness and transfiguration, for example, with werewolves.

It’s not wildlife encounters that put us on edge – it’s the encounters with the unseen. There are no tracks or growls, but the experience that watched feeling that all prey knows.

Anyone who hikes in the mountains (if they are not plugged into their electronic gadgets), has probably felt eyes staring at them, or felt the hair on the back of their neck tingle and stand up on end at one time or another. What caused that crunch of leaves? In which direction did that twig snap?

Ghost encounters abound. The old Bush House Hotel in Index has one; the avalanche chute at Wellington, site of the railroad disaster that cost so many lives is rumored to be haunted. Certain lakes, such as Lake Janus have a reputation as being haunted. And what hiker in the Pacific Northwest has not heard of eerie encounters with the mysterious Stick-Indians over the years?

Tunnels, mine shafts, and caves are fascinating to most of us. The tunnels along the Robe Canyon Trail lure many hikers to explore: they are off-limits to hikers and they should be (they are in danger of collapsing). Plus, the trail is prone to mud-slides. Nature is scary enough without ghosts and werewolves!

Our encounter began innocently enough on a Halloween hike to the old railroad tunnels along the Stillaguamish River near Robe. It was a dark and stormy day–no, really it was–such weather is normal along the Mountain Loop Highway.

Since it was Halloween we’d planned to hike to the entrance of the first tunnel; the rain kept pounding, the wind continued to howl and we were drenched. Despite the gloom our spirits were high, we’d brought Halloween treats to celebrate the occasion.  We did not get too far, most of the trail was under water from the heavy rain.

After struggling with umbrellas turned inside out by the wind we gave up and headed back to the cars, opting to head further east to the Big Four Picnic Area since it had a covered picnic shelter. It was still raining and blowing but the shelter gave us enough protection to have lunch, share Halloween treats, and socialize with our companions.

Meanwhile, our friend Kim, an avid hiker known for an insatiable sweet tooth (like most of us), walked toward the edge of the woods to take photos of the fading fall foliage. Her sudden scream cut across our conversation; we dropped our candy, watching in horror as something big began to drag her into the brush.

Without a second thought we charged out of the shelter to rescue her. Our approach apparently startled the creature and it bounded away but Kim was shaken, wet to the bone, and there were even scratches around her throat. We brought her back to the shelter to treat her scratches and pour hot cider down her throat.  Needless to say our picnic was over and it was a solemn and frightened group who stopped at the Verlot Ranger Station to report the attack.

A couple of years and a few bad dreams later we ventured out on another Halloween hike (not along the Mountain Loop); even Kim would not let her encounter with the werewolf stop her from enjoying another Halloween hike. This time we ventured into the rain again to hike the Iron Goat Trail from the Martin Creek trailhead below Steven’s Pass.

Not wanting to get soaked we hiked west along the railroad grade past a couple of the old snow-shed ruins, stopping for lunch out of the rain just inside a tunnel for shelter. It must have been the Halloween treats that brought it out.

We dropped our Halloween candy when we heard growls from the tunnel and a beast, at least six feet tall clothed in tattered men’s clothing; sharp teeth and claws of a wolf, with the wild red eyes. Wolves do not charge on two legs and no wolf ever howled that could match the blood curdling howls echoing from the tunnel.

Dropping our sandwiches and Halloween treats we ran like rabbits down the trail back to the cars; apparently the food satisfied it as it did not follow us.  It wasn’t until we reached Skykomish that we stopped in a warm, well lit diner that we began to collect our thoughts and talk about what we had just experienced.

We also knew that reporting such encounters (even with photos) would expose us to scorn and ridicule. We agreed that this tale would go no further and that only when time had passed would any of us speak of it in the most general of terms.

We also believe that the werewolf of the Iron Goat Trail was the same (or at least related to) the werewolf we’d encountered at the Big Four Picnic Area. If you are planning a Halloween hike you might want to take pickles rather than candy. One thing we know for sure – these werewolves have a sweet tooth!

This Halloween Kim and other companions are venturing out again on another Halloween hike. As for us, we’re staying home, content to watch scary movies on television rather than risk a werewolf stealing our candy – or worse.

Hikers braver than we can find other sites in which they might encounter something “scary”, the Snoqualmie Pass tunnel being just one of several.

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