I Like to Hike in Hidden, Abandoned Trails
I’m an avid hiker and outdoorsman. I always have been. Since growing up in the rural Smoky Mountains in Tennessee, a part of me has always belonged to nature. My passion overtook me once I graduated, and I spent a year hiking, camping, and sightseeing across the country’s beautiful wilderness. Eventually, I realized how important it was to have a steady income, so I signed on as a park ranger in Mt. Hood National Forest. A career dedicated to preserving nature. What wasn’t there to like? At times, when I wasn’t busy, I would simply drive out to the middle of a clearing and stand. Breathe in the pure air, listen as animals go about their day, feel the fresh breeze. It’s breathtaking.
As a result of my dedication to becoming one with nature, I will often go on excursions to rarely used or even hidden trails and routes. I’ll find them as I conduct my routine patrols or during my time off as I isolate myself. Sometimes, I’ll find tips from other lovers of nature on online forums and threads such as Reddit. They have assisted me in taking on some of the most unknown, isolated, and beautiful trails across the Western U.S., even as north as Canada. However, one day, as I was scrolling through the “new” tab on the hiking subreddit, I found an interesting post. The title sent a shiver down my spine: Abandoned Trail Atop Cold War-era Bunker. Of course, this struck my curiosity, and I clicked on the post. The description entailed how the user had stumbled upon the trail without naming any reason as to why he was so far out in the Oregon wilderness. The user walked down the path as they found remnants of rest stops, camping grounds, and eventually, an eroding building that might have been the main rest area for those who finished the trail. The decay and destruction of the building revealed the basement, which led down to a bunker, according to the post. The user didn’t say whether or not they entered said bunker, but did issue a challenge- whoever enters will uncover secrets that has laid dormant for decades.
I was, obviously, skeptical, but at the same time I was very intrigued. Old, abandoned military bunkers and shelters have been found all around the world, but this one was different. It was underneath a hiking trail, almost as if the hikers were on their way to the bunker. Confused as I was, I still wanted to check it out. I love to hike, and it had been a while since my last excursion. Plus, this time, I could explore a creepy bunker! That’d be a story to tell next time my fellow park rangers hang out and share some beers. The following day, I checked Reddit again to copy down the directions to the trail, but the post was absolutely nowhere to be found. I tried asking about the post, but no one had remembered reading that post. It wasn’t too odd, as there were so many users posting, you couldn’t possibly read them all. Before I could be bummed that I couldn’t get the directions, though, I received an email.
The address was just a bunch of jumbled letters and numbers, so the person who sent it must have been using some sort of anonymous email program. The message was simply the directions to the trail. The last line read, “Happy trails”. That wasn’t even the unnerving part. That came when I realized that the directions took me directly from my house to the trail. “What the fuck…”, I thought aloud. I began having my doubts, and I even considered reporting the email to the police, but for some odd reason that I cannot explain to this day, I decided to go to this trail. I packed my things that night, and by Saturday morning I was on the three-hour long drive to the trail.
I had to leave the interstate fairly early into the trip, instead spending much of it on winding backroads and forest routes. I finally cut off onto a dirt path, where I continued for several minutes. The directions told me to continue on foot once I reached the rusted sign. I came upon the sign, which I believe was a welcome sign of sorts with information on the trail, but it was oxidized beyond recognition. I got out of my truck and put on my hiking bag. I had all the normal hiking gear with me: water, energy bars, a walking stick, a flashlight, an airhorn, a pocket knife, a hat, and several other things. I wouldn’t say I packed light, but I never packed more than necessary.
I started on the trail, which the directions said for me to continue on for several miles. I half expected a person to jump out behind a tree and murder me as I walked, but as my nerves settled I began to take in the glorious, forested wilderness. The trees were thick and plenty, so the lighting was dim, but I could still see fairly fine. I checked my watch: 11:30. I wouldn’t be home until dusk at the very least, so I prepared for a full day of hiking, sightseeing, and creepy exploration.
As I continued down the path, I noticed the occasional rest stop, like the post had mentioned. They were just weathered and eroded picnic tables and an overturned Porta Potti or two, claimed by the forest with vines and other flora. A bird sat on one of the tables, assembling a nest of sorts. As I watched the bird, I heard a faint cry in the distance, probably a bear. I swallowed, and checked to make sure my airhorn was secure on my bag. I continued on my way, my nerves ever so slightly rising as I traversed the trail.
You know that feeling that you get when you know you’re being watched? Well, as cliche as it sounds, I had that feeling. I scanned the area at times, wondering if an animal was stalking me, but I saw nothing. I heard the cry again, this time closer than last, and I did a double take when I processed the noise. It wasn’t a bear. Whatever it was, I didn’t entirely recognize it. It was guttural and powerful, but underneath that noise was a slight, high-pitched squeal, like the cry of a mouse combined with a pig’s scream. It was awful, and, dismissing it as an injured bear, I hurried towards this bunker which I began to fear more and more.
After a couple of hours of hiking, I saw a structure in the distance. It looked like it was once a medium sized wooden building with a concrete foundation, but now the wood had rotted and decayed into an ugly dark color, with parts of the roof and the wall having caved in. The door was nonexistent, and there were bits of wood and concrete to the right of the building, almost as if they were the debris of some form of blast. As I approached the building, I felt a rush of cold air and I was greeted with a feeling of dread. The horrid cry echoed behind me, ushering me towards the building. I observed the right side of the building, and signs of an explosion were clear. I shined my flashlight into the building, and saw overturned furniture and such that indicated that this building once was a rest area. My light focused on one spot, though. It was a room that had collapsed, the wooden floor having gave way. Underneath the floor was a set of stairs, made of concrete. They led downwards. These were the stairs the post had described.
Swallowing my fear and embracing my stupidity, I entered the building, creaks and squeaks echoing out as I took each step. I reached the collapsed room and shined my flashlight down the stairs, only revealing a concrete floor after the stairs, which turned right to more stairs. My body acting before I could think, I began the descent. Once I finished the first flight, I looked back up to see the sky one last time. I then went down the second flight.
This flight of stairs gave way to a hallway of pure concrete, the end of which revealing a large metal door with a large metal handle. There were no signs or directions, no red lights or authorization locks, like you’d imagine. Just a big metal door with an equally big metal handle. It took the force of both of my arms and a lot of back and leg strength to get that rusted handle to give, surprisingly not cutting my hands on the rust. The door opened inwards, and brought me to a room that seemed fairly preserved, almost locked in time. I gasped.
The room seemed to be a welcome area of sorts, maybe a lobby. There were fake plants, couches and coffee tables, doors leading to different halls, and a large desk in the middle with a chair behind it with all your expected accessories and decorations across the room as well. It was a lobby, all right. However, all the other doors were locked. No way to open them. Not with all of my force could I make them budge. Disheartened, I began to search for a key in the desk’s drawers. To my surprise, each drawer I opened was completely empty and barren. However, I blinked quickly in shock as I looked at what the last drawer revealed. It was full of cassette tapes, all atop of an audio recorder of some kind. The tapes were labelled in numerical order, 1 to 7. As strange as all of this was, I had nothing else to do besides leave, and my curiosity had already overtaken my better judgement long ago, so I sat down on the chair and put in the first audio tape. The voice I heard sounded young and intelligent. The quality of the recording made it obvious this was at least thirty years old.
“…uh, testing, testing, 1 2. Is this even on? Uh…oh, nevermind.”, was what I heard. The recording was short, and the voice sounded frustrated and rushed. Maybe he had trouble getting the recording to work, and didn’t know that he had recorded himself. I hoped that the remaining six tapes had more material to work with. They were perhaps my only way to know what the hell this place was. I loaded in the tape labelled “2” with faded marker.
“Ok, uh, my name is Dr. Richard Schroeder. I was born in 1952, and I was drafted in 1970. I served in Vietnam for three years, until I assisted military scientists in Operation Wandering Soul, a sort of psychological warfare against the Viet Cong. They agreed to send me to college to study in psychology. 10 years later, here I am. I received my degree just earlier this year, and the Army sent me here…wherever here is, last week. I’m in a sort of underground facility, where we are working on highly, highly top-secret research, Project Cerebrum. We are learning the secrets of the human brain through very detailed experiments. If we are able to enhance and harness the brain’s true capabilities, why, the possibilities are endless! Super soldiers, cures for diseases, all of it! I’m glad to be a part of it. The project leader is quite the spectacle. Some elderly German fellow, Dr. Lothar Heider. I’ve never heard of him, but apparently, his work is monumental. I am beginning an audio log of sorts, just to keep my sanity. The thing is…everyone here is so absorbed in their work, I can’t ever have a normal conversation anymore. I…I just need to be able to speak my thoughts, although I think I may be jeopardizing a national secret.” He pauses, then continues. “Well, I guess I’m signing off. This is Dr. Richard Schroeder.”
I stayed still for a moment, taking in this fascinating piece of history. This guy was a part of a top secret military project back in 1984, and I’m perhaps the only civilian to ever know about it. He mentioned something about the human brain. It was something about “upgrading” it. At least, that’s what I got from it. I was flooded with questions, but decided it’d be best to just play the next tape instead of spending time asking questions that will, hopefully, be answered in due time.
“Alright, I’ve been here for about…three weeks? All I can say is, we’re getting nowhere. I’ve been assigned to “delivery boy”, rookie’s job, so I haven’t done anything myself except bring coffee and documents to the vets here, but I’ve heard. I overhear them in the break room, their results have been crap. Still, Heider has cracked down on free time, especially for the higher ranking scientists. He is determined to be successful. I admire him, even though I’ve never even spoke to him personally. *pause* You know, rumor has it that Heider personally made the big staff change a few months ago. No one here has been here for more than 150 days. I don’t know how I figure that, but it doesn’t really matter. Soon enough I’ll be assigned to observations, then I’ll be able to evaluate these ‘experiments’ myself.”
I gulped and, again, pondered for a moment. Who was this Heider guy? Staff change? What were these experiments? Again, I dismissed the questions and loaded in the next tape, this one labelled “4”.
“Ok, day…58? I think so. Anyways, *clears throat* so I was bringing some document to Dr. Rhoades in one of the test labs. Well, there was no one at the door, and it wasn’t locked, so…I opened it. My God…*pause* I saw one of the patients. He…he was strapped to some chair. Needles and cables were all over him. He was…he was being pumped with some liquid. His screams….my God his screams. I…I wasn’t supposed to see it. I’m…hiding in some old storage room. They seemed angry with me. I’m not taking any chances. It…it’s not right. *knocking* *whispers* Jesus….I have to find a way out.”
I broke into a sweat as the tape ended. What the hell? I’ve heard conspiracy theories about weird shit the military and government have done in the past, but I never thought much of them. Usually, I couldn’t give a rat’s ass about that stuff, but this, this is unsettling. The genuine panic, the fear, the desperation in this guy’s voice. It made me equally frightened. I was pretty sure he wasn’t caught, as there were more tapes. I was beginning to load in the fifth tape when the door to the stairs slammed shut. I dropped the recorder as I rushed to the door, cursing myself and hoping I didn’t break the old thing. I banged and slammed and pulled on the door, but it wouldn’t open, same as the other doors. I cried out in anger, and was met with the echoed and faded roar that I heard on my way to this godawful place.
Panicked, but beginning to calm, I sat back down and examined the recorder. It seemed to be fine, and since my only option at the moment was to play more tapes, that’s what I did. I loaded in the fifth tape.
“*sigh* In the process of…fleeing, I stumbled upon something. I knew about the sealed off wing, but I actually…found a way in. Of course, it’s a bit dated looking, a bit musty, very dark, but it’s peaceful. I’m away from the..experiments..and everything. By now, the whole “search” is dying down. They must think I’m dead somewhere, rotting…Well, I figure I can stay here for at least six months or so…they left all the canned foods and stuff. After that, I don’t know.” He pauses for a moment, I’m not sure exactly why, before continuing. “I gotta go.”
Sealed off wing? So, that Heider guy closed off an entire part of the lab? It didn’t make much sense to me, but I decided to save my musing for later, and shakily entered the sixth tape.
“My God…*heavy breathing* *clears throat* Ok, so…it’s been a while. I don’t know how long, but…I couldn’t stay here. I tried sneaking around, I just needed to find out more about..everything. Well, I found a paper. Heider…he found it, the solution to our goal. He made some form of serum. But then…*gulp*…*pause* He plugged himself up to the serum’s machines, hooked up IV’s, and pumped himself full of the damn stuff….we should’ve never begun this. His brain became so powerful…his neurons are surging, his occipital lobe’s nerves are off the charts, he can literally create living images with his mind! He…he massacred some scientists who tried to shut him off. But…he didn’t do it himself. Some…some thing did it! He made it! I..I have to go, before it’s too late. This. THIS is what happens when Man tries to play God!” Through the recorder, I heard a grainy, echoed, far off roar. That same fucking roar. Schroeder heard it too. “Shit…”, he says, before ending the recording.
My brain couldn’t process what I heard, but I know my body did. My knees became weak and I nearly dropped the recorder again. I vomited into one of the fake plants and sat on the floor for a moment. This couldn’t be happening. This was shit you’d see in horror movies or something. I didn’t and still don’t know what the fuck is going on, but once again, my only option was to load in the next tape. This was the last tape, number 7. The seven was written sloppily and obviously whoever wrote it was rushed. I inserted the tape into the recorder, exhaled deeply, and hit play.
“Listen to me! Whoever you are…whoever finds this…stop. Turn. Around. LEAVE! Heider…can’t be stopped. If you somehow find this, or find this God-awful place, don’t bother turning off the machines. But, if you can’t leave, if HE finds you…then do whatever you can to stop this madness. End it.” Schroeder’s warning is interrupted by that damn roar, followed by a constant, powerful, desperate banging on a large metal door. “Oh my God!”, is the last thing I hear Schroeder say before I hear the large metal handle on the large metal door be forcefully turned and the door creaks open. Screams and roars are heard as a struggle ensues, followed by some noises I’d rather not describe, and the recording ends.
That’s it. The last tape. I was left sitting there in my own panicked and confused state, in that lobby with locked, large metal doors with large metal handles surrounding me. However, it wasn’t long before my phone beeped. Startled by the sudden noise, I yelped and jumped a bit, before composing myself as best as possible and checking my phone. I wasn’t expecting to get any notification, as I rarely get service whilst hiking, much less in some fucking bunker. It was just some weather update, but what surprised me was I was getting excellent service for some odd reason. Before I thought of doing anything else, I opened Reddit and typed this. I’m trapped down here, possibly with some thing that is dangerous, unnatural, and evil. I know what the government did during the Cold War. I know why our brains are dangerous. What I don’t know, though, is who posted the directions to this godforsaken bunker and how they knew how to get there from my house.
But, you know what? I have an idea. There’s tons of hikers in the Oregon area. If I let them know about this trail and the “secrets” it may hold, perhaps I can attract one to come here, and I’ll be rescued! I just need to post the directions to the hiking subreddit, add in a bit of mystery, and it should grab the attention of at least one avid nature lover.
Update: It’s been about an hour. My phone is running low on battery, and it seems my post has been removed for some reason. I have a backup plan, though.
I’m hearing the roars again.
Submitted October 13, 2018 at 07:39PM by Bekfast_Time