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Unnatural Sound On Mt. St. Helen's

 

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.

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The following comments are submitted by users of this site and are not official positions by yourghoststories.com. Please read our guidelines and the previous posts before posting. The author, BettinaMarie, has the following expectation about your feedback: I will participate in the discussion and I need help with what I have experienced.

BettinaMarie (10 stories) (56 posts)
 
1 year ago (2018-04-01)
Thank You everyone for the research and your answers. What relief to think that a frost crack or other natural element may have been the source of that wierd noise. These possible, natural explanations have eased my mind, even if some of them scare the living breath right out of me. There is a display at the Johnston Ridge Observatory that records where the casualties occurred, and now I will check next time I am there if we were nearby where someone was lost in the eruption. Bigfoot stories are very common all over the PNW, but I was unaware that people had head them vocalize with those common primate "lip pops". Once again, thank you all.
BettinaMarie (10 stories) (56 posts)
+1
1 year ago (2018-03-29)
Sherm- I am sure that like myself, other readers would also like to hear details about the unexplained events your friends have had at the new WTC. Are any of their accounts available to read somewhere?
BettinaMarie (10 stories) (56 posts)
 
1 year ago (2018-03-29)
Note: Johnson stood his ground, for science. God bless him and all the others.
BettinaMarie (10 stories) (56 posts)
+2
1 year ago (2018-03-29)
Augusta-since reading your comment and re-watching a couple nature docs I have been sitting around my house mimicking the way those other primates make their "popping" noises with their lips. While more "natural" sounding, this does sounds disturbingly like what we heard, and at just about the right volume and height. (given that I am presumably shorter, with smaller lips, than a Bigfoot) This accurate reproduction of the sound really scares me. Also my dog thinks I have lost it because I have been "popping" like a monkey.
BettinaMarie (10 stories) (56 posts)
 
1 year ago (2018-03-29)
Sherm-thank you for your comment. We were on the "eruption side", but except for Johnson Ridge, I myself cannot accurately say exactly where any of those folks passed away in the eruption. This spirit suggestion had not even occurred to me. I would think in their last mortal moments they were all of them fleeing terrified when the mountain blew. Maybe our fear was theirs. The path of the damage is sobering to see (30 years later) hard to describe on such a scale. In 1980 the ash came all the way to fall over our home in Norther California.

Augusta- It was long ago but, if I remember rightly, the lumberjack story was in a small press collection of old-time Pacific Northwest Bigfoot stories. It was softcover and possibly green, and maybe 80-100 pages. Possibly a footprint cast or pen and ink drawing on cover. It came from my tiny elementary library in Idaho, or maybe the Ada County Library on Five Mile Road. The title was meant perhaps meant to be scary but I forget it. The alleged log camp slaughter was in the mountains Oregon or Cali, I think. The tale was told by someone whose household vacated the camp after it was surrounded by howling big foots several times, but before the attack. Good luck to find it but I hope year grandkids are tougher than me.
sherm784 (18 stories) (27 posts)
+2
1 year ago (2018-03-29)
I was actually watching a documentary on MSH this week. A lot of people were caught by suprise there and it wasn't very fun when it blew in 1980. Perhaps you're hearing from someone in that event.

I have some friends who work in the new world trade center and stuff happens all the time they can't explain, they think it's from 9/11 ghosts.

Very possible it's someone trying to remind you what happened here.
AugustaM (5 stories) (872 posts)
+2
1 year ago (2018-03-29)
Hah! Worry not, I have a few likely irrational fears hanging on from my childhood too! I think most of us probably do! Now I want to know the title of that book, though! Seems like a good one to read to my nieces when we go camping! 😆

And as neat (and tragic) as the very idea of a Big Foot is to me... I am 100% certain that I would be wildly uncomfortable attempting to camp in the vicinity of one.

A couple of my distant cousins are avid Big Foot hunters (and deeply sincere conspiracy theorists- so I take everything with a grain of salt). But they too have heard the popping and described feeling instinctively frightened during their encounters. One of them swears he was chased down a steep wooded embankment and back onto his boat by one that then proceeded to pelt the boat with rocks! Honestly, I didn't know whether to be more unsettled or tickled by that one 😉
BettinaMarie (10 stories) (56 posts)
 
1 year ago (2018-03-29)
I never want to feel like dinner again, no matter what it was. Please forgive my prejudice of the bigfoots species- I know you cannot believe everything you read, but in 5th grade I read a 2nd hand account of bigfoots gruesomely taking out an entire old-west lumber camp and since then the thought of their mere existence terrifies me. At twelve, I had to throw out that book report because I was convinced a bigfoot would climb out the (since disclaimed) cover picture and "get me," from under my bed. Now I know they avoid people, and I manage to respectfully enjoy the great PNW's wildest regions. I can also relate to how the bigfoots must have felt to see their ancient friends decimated by greedy humans.
Still, my own ridiculous TV-brain pet theory of X-file aliens is less scary for me, to contemplate, than bigfoots; and I cannot cross bigfoots off the list now, if they make popping noises like those other primates.
I admit I was little unprepared for this suggestion, Augusta, and you make a sound argument.
BettinaMarie (10 stories) (56 posts)
+1
1 year ago (2018-03-29)
Thank you so much for your responses, I am the type of person to gnaw the unexplainable to the bone and this experience is so hard to explain. It was mid-June if that helps. I have considered that the dam above us might help an odd elk echo but the sound came clearly from across the road uphill, 40 or so feet before the berm. To be fair, that mountain is crawling with elk. It would have been awful hard to miss an animal that big, that close, I hope. I have yet to be drawn for an elk tag, but I know they are dangerous during their rut. An elk noise seems reasonable, as a natural explanation. Thanks Augusta for insights.

Manafon-Thank you kindly. If it is the same thing (unscientifically) I have heard trees "popping". There are pretty drastic temperature changes after sundown on the mountain and it would stay cooler by the water. My warmest layer could have been a hoodie, but I remember worrying about my pale blouse on the blacktop. A frost crack might also reason out the height it seemed to come from. Maybe a frostcrack sounds even weirder laying on the ground. Thank you for your research. This explanation sounds peachy keen and I'll take it, especially because

Augusta- the thought of bigfoots or one being within earshot or three steps of myself makes me have to hold back from screaming. I know it is not right to judge a species, and that primates are threatened by habitat loss, etc. But I have an unholy terror of these creatures. I have never found accounts of them making "popping" noises. When I read your response and pictured all the different primates who do make "pop" noises on the Animal Channel (for instance) I pretty much freaked.
At the time it happened, and since, I had ruled bigfoots out because 1- I had never heard tell of them make "popping" noises (thank you) 2- they are enormous and this was very close in broad moonlight 3- I did not smell anything and bigfoots are said to have a "stank." I was downwind. My sense of smell is an affliction unfortunately keen. Now my sane little checklist is useless. Cross overnight camping on St. Helen's OFF MY LIST.
Manafon1 (5 stories) (617 posts)
+5
1 year ago (2018-03-28)
BettinaMarie - Really nicely written account. I did a google search and found a possible answer to what you heard - a frost crack. According to an article, "When water freezes, it expands in volume. The sap on trees is made of water diluted with carbohydrates (sugars) and minerals, which act like antifreeze... Depending on how much sap is in the tree, its sugar content and the temperature, it can result in a vertical cracking in the trunk called a frost crack".

This cracking is often described as a loud, weird popping sound. The same article then states, "Frost cracks also form when the temperature heats up". The tree bark warms and this causes, "cells to expand in the bark and the sapwood under the bark... However the sapwood doesn't cool as fast causing the bark to crack".

Just wanted to throw a natural explanation your way. Of course considering you and your husband are hunters this might be a sound you are familiar with. I have heard it a couple times in my life and it is a strange sound that I could imagine being quite jarring and spooky heard in the setting you described. Intriguing stuff!
AugustaM (5 stories) (872 posts)
+1
1 year ago (2018-03-28)
There are animals out there that can make some unusual one-off vocalizations - elk come to my mind first... Especially during rutting season. It doesn't account for your feeling of fear but I do think it could have been an animal.

However, given your fear response... I suppose it wouldn't be entirely ridiculous to consider other options. I have heard that Big Foot supposedly makes the occasional popping sound- other primates certainly do. And folks often report feeling instinctually frightened. So...maybe?

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