What happened in this story scared the bejeezies out of me, and seven years later I am getting creepy goosebumps trying to write it. Probably, it won't seem scary to readers. For us, it was very unnatural and frightening. If anyone could explain this or has experienced it, I would be grateful for your comments.
My fella is quite the romantic. He took me hiking one of his favorite trails on Mt. Saint Helens, in WA state. The stars came out as we drove back down the mountain, watching carefully for deer or elk on the move at dusk. An elk weighs about a ton, and can destroy a vehicle if you hit one. The trick is to watch for the reflections of their eyes beside the road, which has been my job as passenger since I was six.
The view opens wide up to the south where a low earthen berm makes a reservoir. Below the dam is a parking area, which was empty at night. It is not a trailhead or scenic area, just a county lot, busy with anglers when we passed in the morning. We decided to pull over for some proper star gazing. We had not seen any traffic. So we were safe to lay out flat and ogle the whole sky. We laid on the pavement in front of the car, where anyone could see us if they randomly pulled up or drove by. I had just got "comfy" using my arms under my head. We had been laying there for perhaps two minutes.
What happened next I cannot explain by any rational, natural means. It freaks me out to think about it. Just above and very near uphill of me, from the woods across the road, came loud and distinctly the most artificial, out-of-place noise. It was a single, clear, sort of plastic, pop. Like the sound of opening a Tupperware lid or unsealing a jar. Precise, deliberate, with suction; a pop like that-but much louder, from about chest height. Not woodsy. Not normal. Every hair on my body raised up and my brain went into flight mode.
We both sat instantly upright. Not saying a word or even looking at each other, just jumped in the car with no pretense of calm. Of course we looked around us as we exited the lot. Everything looked exactly the same. When we pulled round, no eyes showed as our headlights crossed the spot where that noise definitely came from. After driving far and fast from that horrible, wrong sound, he finally spoke to ask me if I "heard that too?".
In case anyone asks: From me, the tree line began uphill to the right across two lanes, maybe twenty feet away. The underbrush is thick-hazelnut runners, bushes and knee-high blackberry brambles, even just off the county road. However, the nearest trees are not wide, only about thirty years old, planted after the eruption. The dam rose behind us, still water almost to the fishing spots on top. The lot and open area below the berm met trees on the left side several hundred feet away, on the other end of the dam. There are no buildings or houses, not any people or street lights. It was clear and especially bright by the water. There was moonlight enough to see very easily in any direction once our eyes adjusted. It was before ten p.m., a gorgeous summer night, hardly a breeze. One could smell fresh water, the different trees.
I have lived in similar woods, just for the record, and feel at home, even at night. My fella was familiar with the road and the area. I had no reason to feel unsafe, but as my father's daughter I always check the perimeter, of course. We are both hunters, used to listening for game. We made plenty of noise getting out of the car. Hiking since then, we have seen mountain lions, way too close, in OR and WA. He once saw a bear (in daylight) -it ran away, making lots of noise through the brush. Neither predator made any cry, and both moved away from the people. We did not run on those occasions. Other smaller animals would likely move away when we jumped up, or it's eyes would shine in the headlights watching us leave. No animal I have heard of in the PNW makes that noise. The sound came chest level, very near and just uphill across the road. I figure a bear would be on the ground, a mountain lion in the trees, and a person lit in moonlight is visible that close, or at least seen in silhouette of headlights.
I would like a natural, rational explanation. We are confident, sane adults, and stone cold sober when we both heard it and ran off. Fear is not a voluntary reaction. I am still scared, typing now. There was no change in air pressure, light or temperature, just an instant electric fear. The feeling did not shake for many miles. We still have no better way to describe what we call "the Outside Tupperware noise". I have looked into folklore, animals and history of the mountain and found nothing to explain this very particular sound. I have also asked folks who spend time on St. Helen' s, finding no similar experience. My fella casually says just now "maybe it was a cougar", but unless the big cat brought a container for leftovers, I disagree.