Back home again
It was late in the afternoon on Saturday, June 14, 2014, when I arrived from Seattle to my home in northeastern New Jersey. My wife Debbie and our sons, sixteen-year-old Matthew and fourteen-year-old Joseph were all at home, awaiting my arrival. I walked through the door and hugged and kissed each of them, my wife last. I held Debbie in my arms for a long while, feeling an indecipherable mixture of emotions. The overriding feeling that I had was gratitude. I was so grateful to God for having them in my life; it was almost overwhelming. I felt ready to collapse from the weight of my emotions and all that had happened.
After a few minutes of talk, I decided that I wanted nothing more than to unpack and shower – and have a couple of beers. Oh boy, did I ever want a beer! All I craved was a return to normalcy – my home, my family, my dog at my feet, a cold one in my hand. Nothing more than that, but that is plenty for me. I’m a simple man, and to me, that is everything. I require nothing more than the company and the love of my family.
After our greetings, I quickly unpacked and showered and then gave my family a quick overview of my week without dwelling on any specifics. I intentionally did not go into great detail regarding our encounter with frightening alien figures from the strange portal in the forest. I had told my wife and our boys something about them, but only briefly, and I intentionally downplayed the events. I would tell them more when I deemed it the correct time to do so.
We had an early supper that night. Our sons had evening plans with their friends in the neighborhood, and my wife and I found ourselves alone. It was then that I told her everything I could about the glowing mist, the red portal, and the strange, demonic entities from my childhood that emerged from that portal. She listened quietly, only occasionally interjecting with a comment or question. When I was done, my always-pragmatic wife said, “Well, you had better not go back to that place again.” Good advice, I thought.
I was so grateful that Debbie believed me. I only wanted her to listen and believe what I told her, and I do not know how I would have felt if she did not — or worse, if she laughed at me. Of course, I knew that Deb would not laugh at me. She knew me better than anyone and would understand that I was telling her the truth about everything. Still, it is such a bizarre and outlandish story; I could not help considering the idea that she — or anyone — hearing it would be inclined to laugh or call me a liar. It really would not be an unreasonable reaction.
Adam and I working through this together
I consider myself very fortunate to have a small group of very close friends, most of whom I have known since childhood. We share our thoughts and our problems with each other, and I told them about what happened on my trip out West and in southern Oregon. Like Debbie, they also believed me, and I was grateful for that. But, having no point of reference for such high strangeness, they had little to add or offer besides a sympathetic ear. It was enough that they listed, though, and I was grateful for that.
Of course, the only person I could truly share this experience with and unburden myself to was my friend Adam Davies. He went through it all with me, every step of the way. He was the only person with firsthand knowledge of what happened and understood what we endured on those two nights in the forest.
Over the ensuing months, Adam and I engaged in regular Skype calls with each other, talking about the events at SOHA and our thoughts and feelings about them. Slowly, we attempted to unpack these events and decipher their meaning. Although we did not solve any of our mysteries, it was comforting to talk with each other about all that had occurred and our feelings about the experience.
The importance of Adam and I being able to talk with each other about our SOHA experiences cannot be overstated. People who have endured these kinds of unexplained encounters do not always have someone to talk to. They are often alone in their trauma and torment, unable to benefit from sharing their experiences and unburdening themselves. In this respect, Adam and I were lucky to have each other. I do not doubt that we were both suffering from some level of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and talking it over with each other was a vital outlet.
Facing my demons, literally
All my life, I have been plagued by frequent nightmares. My wife often tells me that I thrash and sometimes scream or shout things, and I often babble in some unintelligible language. Those nightmares would sometimes (but not always) involve the small, black, red-eyed beings that plagued me as a child and bedeviled me on those two moonlit nights in Oregon. After returning home, those nightmares greatly increased in frequency and intensity. I would sometimes awake to see those short, powerful beings standing beside my bed, watching me. I would cry out, and they would disappear, unlike my encounters with them as a boy.
I will take this opportunity to clearly and strongly reiterate that I believe the unknown humanoid entities that emerged from that portal or gateway which appeared on the road leading into the Southern Oregon Habituation Area were the same creatures that I repeatedly encountered as a child.
Of course, I could be wrong. They might have appeared to look exactly like the beings that I saw when I was a child — a strange coincidence, perhaps. I might also come home to find a woman in my house who looks exactly like my wife but is not. I think those two things are equally likely.
Do I enjoy telling you this? Does it somehow make me feel “special” to say that these monsters from childhood dreams were real? No, and please trust me when I say that I am not trying to put myself at this story’s center for some egotistical purpose. I have no such motivation. For over forty years, I have tried to convince myself that my mother and father were right, that those beings that terrorized me at night were nothing more than figments of an overactive imagination. I do not, in the least, enjoy the thought that these horrid, demonic beings actually exist and are somehow attached to me or associated with me in some manner. That is a profoundly troubling thought.
In analyzing these events, another thought has occurred to me: I have had numerous strange experiences throughout my life, which I cannot rationally explain. Do these creatures have something to do with it all? I find it difficult to imagine that they do not, and all the strange happenings I have endured have been separate and discrete incidents, one having nothing to do with the other. That seems highly unlikely to me. There is much more that I could (and plan to) write about on this subject, but I will refrain from doing so at this time.
I will end my speculation on the subject of these unknown humanoid creatures with a few final thoughts. In the second part of this series, I alluded to my “bad attitude” before leaving New Jersey to meet Adam in Washington. I honestly was at a low point in my life. The past several years saw my parents’ death, the dissolution of two business partnerships, and a deep sense of betrayal by several people close to me. I was angry, sad, depressed, and felt wounded and more than a little sorry for myself (not entirely without cause).
My troubles had accumulated and come to a crescendo at this point in my life. I felt overwhelmed and utterly dejected. My western excursion with my friend Adam felt more like a welcome temporary escape from my problems than a scientific research expedition. Finding evidence of Bigfoot was not a priority to me. I only wanted a change of scenery and a distraction from my pain.
Adam, too, was going through a difficult period in his life as well. Could it be that our negative emotions have caused these portal-beings to appear? Did my troubled state of mind draw forth these demons from my youth and allow them to manifest themselves materially? Were these beings attracted to the emotional pain that we were each experiencing? I do not know if this is true, but it is something that Adam and I have discussed and believe to be plausible.
April, 2015 – The Unveiling of the SOHA Events
Ten months after our return from the Southern Oregon Habituation Area, Dr. Johnson first spoke publicly about our experiences at an annual conference that he holds for those who follow his research or are interested in learning about it.
The story of encounters was so crazily bizarre that word of it spread quickly on the Internet. Being a non-entity, this had far less effect on me than Adam, a well-known public figure, particularly in cryptozoology circles. He was soon inundated with people asking him questions about what had happened. To a much lesser degree, I was asked about the events as well.
For my part, I did not mind answering questions about the incidents on the third and fourth night in southern Oregon. In my view, I knew that what happened was real and had actually occurred, and it did not matter to me if people believed our story or not. I did not care then, and I do not care now. Believe me or don’t believe me. I know what happened and that it is all true.
Adam, however, was quite angry and upset at the revealing of our encounter. He was not emotionally prepared to talk about SOHA. As I had worried, and I confided to Rhettman Mullis, I feared that our experiences might be more difficult for Adam, that he might have trouble processing it all. I believe I was right about this, judging from the many conversations he and I had. Adam is a tough and resilient man, but it can be terribly disconcerting for even the bravest individual to face something so intensely strange.
I struggled as well, although perhaps slightly less so than did Adam. Having had strange occurrences all my life, the SOHA site events were only the latest in a lifelong series of weird encounters, even if they were more strange and intense than any previous one. I believe that, because of my earlier experiences, I was able to cope with those encounters in Oregon with a little less difficulty than did Adam — if only very slightly. Certainly, I did not have an easy time of it, and to this day, those events still weigh on me. Rarely does a day pass when I do not think of what happened.
Much more than I, Adam was now in the unenviable position of being suddenly forced to speak publicly about this strange and troubling experience. Adding to his anxiety, he was concerned about his job. At the time, Adam was working for the British government. His co-workers and supervisors were aware of his interest in legendary beasts and mysterious species, and, as he explained it to me, they “tolerated it.” Their reaction might be very different if they learned of his involvement in this bizarre story. He feared for his job security.
We had also agreed to consult each other before speaking publicly of the SOHA events. When Dr. J revealed it publicly, I think Adam might have been more taken aback than I was. Being a cynical New Yorker, I was less surprised. I had assumed that Matt Johnson would speak about it at some point and did not honestly expect him to ask us how we felt about it beforehand. It was simply too big of a story to keep secret, and Dr. Johnson was going to tell it regardless of how we felt about it.
That being said, Dr. J was not under any obligation to ask our permission to discuss events that happened in his research area. Nevertheless, it would have been nice to have known ahead of time — not so much for my sake than for Adam’s. He was not ready to deal with this, having only spoken about it with a few close friends and me. It was then suddenly thrust upon him, and he was forced to field questions about a deeply disconcerting incident. As both a psychologist and as someone who has had an emotionally distressing firsthand encounter, I am sure Dr. J could appreciate and empathize with how we felt.
To me, this is now water under the bridge. I harbor no ill feelings toward Dr. Johnson and hope to great him as a friend if our paths ever again cross. In truth, I no longer hold any anger or resentment toward anyone in my life. I believe this has much to do with the changes in me since facing those creatures, my personal demons, incarnate.
Processing the paranormal
Now that nearly seven years have passed at this writing time, I feel weirdly distant and detached from the incident. It seems more like a strange and frightening movie that I watched and less like something I personally experienced. As I had said previously, if I were alone when all this happened, I would have convinced myself that I had imagined the entire episode; that it was perhaps brought on by a bit of undigested beef, as Ebenezer Scrooge says in Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, as he tries to rationalize away his ghostly visitors. I am sure that I would have found a way to dismiss the entire incident and tuck it away in some dark corner of my subconscious.
Denying or burying the reality of this incident would only do me harm, however. I realized this shortly after my return home, and I knew that I would need to air this publicly at some point. I do this not only for my own benefit but also out of a desire to help others who have had unexplained encounters. I cannot provide any definitive answers, only my personal perspective on the events that have happened to me. You may take from that what you will and maybe take some comfort in knowing that you are not alone in these types of experiences. More people have had them than you would probably guess.
Answers To Some Frequent Questions
People have asked me many questions regarding those two nights in southern Oregon. I have also seen a lot of speculative opinions posited. I will address these here.
What were these creatures? You have probably noticed that I often use “demonic” and “demons” when describing them. I personally believe that is what they are: demons. I do not believe that they are extraterrestrial, interdimensional, or an unknown species of physical creature. They were identical to the beings that I encountered as a child. This leads me to believe that they are demons and are attached to me. I have numerous reasons that I believe this to be so, too many to write about here.
Although Adam will not dismiss the idea that these beings were demonic, he prefers to believe that they were interdimensional or even extraterrestrial. I might be inclined to accept that notion if not for the fact that these were the things that I saw in my childhood. Since the incident I have made an extensive study of the Catholic church’s teachings on demonology, exorcism, and spiritual warfare and there is much that I have learned that supports my beliefs.
Were we a victim of a hoax by Dr. Johnson? No, I am convinced that we were not. Dr. J was very forthcoming and transparent about everything he did the entire time we were together. The only time that the three of us left each other’s sight was when Adam and I went on that hike alone on the morning after our first encounter with the entities. There would have been no opportunity for him to coordinate with others to help him perpetrate an elaborate deception. We were also completely isolated and alone on that mountain ridge at the SOHA site.
If Dr. J wanted to hoax us, wouldn’t the focus be on Adam? He is the famous one. I’m nobody. In fact, Dr. Johnson made a point to tell me that the only reason that I was there was that I’m a friend of Adam Davies. If Dr. J were going to hoax us, would he not try to impress Adam? Maybe had someone dressed in a Bigfoot costume traipse by our camp — something along those lines? Why would he dredge up the figures from my boyhood nightmares? I do not think Dr. Johnson had read a single word of my blog, so I doubt he even knew about those creatures from my July 2010 article.
Did Dr. Johnson drug us or hypnotize us? Um… no. Next stupid question. Adam and I were not drugged or hypnotized into having an identical experience involving the monsters I encountered in my childhood.
Did Dr. Johnson secretly have an entire Hollywood special effects crew hidden in the woods to perpetrate a hoax on us? No, not unless he had a massive budget and the special effects people were as silent as ninjas. And it would have required a big-budget effects crew to perpetrate such a convincing hoax. Also, we saw those creatures up close, and they were real. He would have had to have hired little people. Very powerfully built little people in extremely realistic costumes and prosthetic makeup — who could also disappear instantly. It makes no sense.
Could the portal and those creatures have been a holographic projection? I have heard this idiotic suggestion more times than I care to count. No, I do not think that someone wheeled a hologram machine out onto the road from the woods at 2:30 AM to project the short, stocky, glowing-eyed entities that I repeatedly encountered as a child. Also, they ran at us. Directly at us, and got within ten feet of us. We saw their faces. It was not a hologram projection. Also, I would think a hologram projection machine would be quite expensive — if such a thing even exists. Then again, maybe you can rent them? Regardless, it was not a hologram projection. Please stop with that.
Did Adam and I imagine the entire incident — two nights in a row — because we were in a state of hysteria? Well, first of all, we were not hysterical. If anything, we kept our composure quite well, considering the circumstances. We were certainly concerned by the appearance of strange, humanoid beings appearing outside of our campsite. We had a definite sense of unease and felt that those beings projected a sense of evil and ill intent. But we were not hysterical. The only truly fearful moment might have been when the creatures rushed at us after I antagonized them on the first night. Even that was more of a sense of surprise and shock than of outright terror.
While we are on this subject, I have heard a version of this story where Adam and I were supposedly cowering behind Dr. Johnson’s SUV, screaming in terror for him to protect us. That never happened. If it did, I would say so. I have no ego regarding any of this. If I shit my pants, I would tell you that I shit my pants. Everything I have written is EXACTLY as it happened. Not my version of it. Not “my truth” (I loathe that expression). I have only written the truth from the outset of this series of articles.
Why didn’t you guys take any photos or video? Our lack of proof is a legitimate question, for which I do not have an adequate answer. Adam and I might have discussed trying to photograph these strange phenomena. After seven years, I do not recall if we had that conversation at some point during those two nights. It seems likely that we would have, and we might have decided that it was too dark to get a clear photo or video. We did not have with us any sophisticated night-vision or thermal-imaging camera or video equipment, so the likelihood of getting any worthwhile footage was slim-to-none.
I recently asked Adam about his recollection regarding the photo and video question. He paused and said, “I don’t think we gave any thought to it at the time because we were too busy trying to stay alive.” This is my feeling, too: I think we were too preoccupied with keeping these creatures at bay and out of our camp to stop to consider gathering video or photographic proof. We did likely discuss it at some point, but neither of us can recall that conversation clearly. We agree that our main concern was keeping those demonic entities away from us and our camp. Staying alive was the priority, and gaining proof of our experience was not.
The Skinwalker Connection?
Do I believe that there was something about the SOHA site that allowed the portal to appear and those creatures to emerge? Yes, I think that is likely, or at least plausible. I think it is a place where, as the Irish say, “the world is thin.” I believe that there are indeed places where paranormal phenomena manifest themselves more frequently. Some have suggested that this has something to do with the geological makeup of the land. Quartz especially is thought to be conducive for these types of phenomena.
I have read that because quartz is known to conduct electromagnetism, it can influence our brain waves and cause hallucinatory experiences. The mountains in and around southern Oregon have a high quartz content, yet I do not believe that our experiences were illusions caused by EM waves. They were far too interactive, and if those events were illusory, then Adam and I were having identical hallucinations. Also, these seemed entirely real and too interactive to be hallucinatory.
The day after our first encounter with the portal and the creatures, I suggested to Dr. J and Adam that SOHA might be something like a smaller-scale Skinwalker Ranch. Neither of them had heard of it or had read the excellent Hunt for the Skinwalker by Colm Kelleher and George Knapp (read it if you haven’t).
If you are unfamiliar, the story outlines the experiences of a family of ranchers who purchased a property in northeastern Utah to raise their cattle. The ranchers soon found that they were dealing with a wide variety of strange phenomena that ranged from the appearance of mysterious animals, invisible creatures, UFOs, glowing orbs, and yes, even a “portal” from which a Bigfoot-like creature emerged. They also claimed to have seen something like a tear or rip in the night sky that showed a clear, blue, daylit sky.
Glowing orbs of light? Windows into another dimension? Portals from which strange creatures emerge? It seems to me that there are more than a few similarities between these two places. Are these areas cursed? Could they be sites of pre-Columbian occult rituals and sacrificial offerings? Were doorways opened at these places at some time in humankind’s antiquity? I believe that this is a hypothesis worthy of consideration
But the things which the heathens sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God. And I would not that you should be made partakers with devils.1 Corinthians 10:20
Adam and I still occasionally talk about SOHA, the mysterious glowing mist, and the black, red-eyed humanoids that emerged from the fiery doorway at its center. Despite the harrowing nature of the experience and the burden of carrying it with us forever afterward, we made it through alive and whole, if somewhat scarred.
For myself, what happened in Oregon was not a singular event. It was the beginning of a journey that I travel each day since. I have changed as a person drastically, mostly (I think) for the better. Much of the anger, bitterness, and resentment that I had harbored has left me. I believe that I am less prideful and have more humility. After many years of being lapsed, I have returned to my church, and I feel that I am now a better husband and father. Yet, I still sometimes struggle with the memory of what happened on those two nights in southern Oregon, and at times my obsessive thoughts and my old, angry self returns.
It is my opinion that encounters like these are preordained and not random. They serve a purpose, and that purpose is for us to grow in spirit and closer to God. That is why He puts all adversity before us and allows us to suffer: to purify our soul and grow in our love for Him. Know that these encounters can also lead a person down a dark and destructive path if allowed. Be aware of this, and you might make better choices on your journey.
Lastly, I wish the best for all those seekers who visit this place and places like it. I pray that you stay safe and remain unharmed. I do urge caution, however. There are repercussions to seeking out the unknown, and if you call out into the darkness, you might get an answer, and that is not always a good thing. In fact, it rarely is.
Some doors, once opened, are difficult to close.