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The Mystery of Guatay Mountain

A scream so scary that it even haunts Michael Myers

Pausing on the first false peak to look at the light of the sunset on the pine valley bridge.
Pausing on the first false peak to look at the light of the sunset on the pine valley bridge.
  • Located in Guatay near Pine Valley, Guatay Mountain is a moderately strenuous hike. With a length of 5.3 miles and an elevation gain of around 1,600 feet, the hike will take most people 2 to 3 hours. Dogs are allowed but not recommended.
  • Distance from downtown San Diego: 45 miles
  • Hike length: 5.3 miles • Difficulty: Moderately strenuous • Season: October - May


Dear reader, This hike happened a couple years ago. It’s an unsettling tale which I’ve never told anyone.

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“Dude, it’s over here.”

“Wait, where?” I asked, spinning around.

“Over here,” said a chaparral shrub that was rustling about twenty feet from me.

“How did you…” I started, but the shrub cut me off and began shaking violently.

“To your left, fool!”

I veered left toward the feisty shrub and my friend Nate popped his head out from a tangle of leaves. He looked scraggly, yet quite at ease, and I would have believed that the bush was his home if he’d said so.

“This way. I found it,” said Nate. His head disappearing back into the bush faster than an anxious turtle’s.

“Cool. Let me grab Mickey,” I said, turning to walk toward the parking lot where our other friend was waiting.

“You ready?”

Mickey sucked on his vape pen then crumpled into the passenger seat and looked at me out of the corner of his eye, “Yeeeeeah, let’s do it.”

As he grabbed his pack and got out of the car, I turned back toward Nate to say, “We’re com—”

But the bush boomed, “Let’s GO!” And so we did.

Mickey and I delved through the bushes and found ourselves in an oak grove that was dim and stuffy. Ragged leaves hung from ancient oaks, which were gnarled and seemed to have fallen into a deep sleep. Nothing grew on the ground and above us were crooked branches that blotted out the twilight sky. It was as if time itself had forgotten this place, allowing it to wither from a sunlit sanctuary into a poisoned tomb.

“I could fall asleep here,” whispered Mickey.

“But then the roots might curl up around you and drag you into their belly,” I mumbled cautiously.

Mickey and I tiptoed over the soft, wet leaves then ducked under a fallen branch that led us out of the oak grove and onto a defined trail. Birds were singing their last songs for the evening and lizards scuttled around while pausing to do a few push ups before continuing on. Nate was sitting on an old stump tying his shoe. Tattered leaves clung to his hair and his eyes were wild and beady.

“This way,” he said, bounding up the trail before disappearing behind a bush.

The three of us marched up the trail like Snow White’s dwarves. I was Happy, ahead of me was Grumpy and behind me was Dopey. None of us broke out into song, though I hummed Mahalia and Dua Lipa under my breath.

The path was overgrown with chaparral and the trail was slippery from a brief drizzle of rain. For the first mile we were routed north then west. Our conversation was pleasant and occasionally broken up by the hum of a passing car on old highway 80. Eventually the trail turned south up a steep slope that was badly eroded.

Clouds of bugs hovered over us and sporadically one would fly too low and cling to the sweaty sheen on our cheeks and foreheads or it would get caught in the vortex of our breath and tumble madly into our mouths and hug the back of our throats, twitching for freedom.

I coughed and spat, hoping the bug went out not in.

“You good?” asked Mickey.

“Yeah, I swallowed a fly.”

Heading up the first false peak.

After climbing for a fourth of a mile, we reached the first false peak. It was one of three high points that joined together to form a ridge that ran east-west alongside I-8. The sky was orange and fading, in the distance, headlights from passing cars lit up the Pine Valley Creek Bridge. It straddled a long, deep ravine that was black and endless. Having stopped to stare for a while, I wondered what ghastly ghouls crept out of it when the moon was just a sliver in the night sky, then I shuddered before racing to catch up with my friends who had gone on without me.

Mickey and Nate had traveled quickly and in the falling darkness I fumbled along the ridgeline looking for their flashlights ahead of me. The temperature was quickly dropping and every breath out produced a steamy cloud that radiated under my headlight and briefly blinded me. Around me I could hear the bushes rustle, either from the wind or from some critter skulking about. After what seemed like a few minutes, I still couldn’t see my friends’ flashlights and I began to wonder if I had passed them or if they were pranking me.

As I drew nearer to the second false peak, the air grew thin with mist and the sky darkened, as if the mountain itself were warning me of the dangers that lay ahead, when suddenly a sharp jolt pierced my heart. Carried by the wind was a sinister melody that I knew well. It was the haunting theme song from Halloween; the one that plays when the killer stalks his victims.

“Let’s go Michael Myers,” hollered Nate from out of the abyss ahead of me.

I chuckled, pushing the fear out of my mind. Michael Myers was a nickname that I’d been given a few years earlier by Joey and Nate, who had noticed that my hiking stride was always constant and steady (like Michael Myers’s) regardless of whether I was walking up or downhill. Occasionally Nate or Joey would play the theme song when they wanted me to catch up.

We arrived at the second false peak together. The sky was black with hints of red, like charred embers in a dying fire. Undaunted, we pressed on, scrambling over rocks and through dense thickets, driven by an insatiable curiosity that burned within our hearts.

After a half hour of climbing, the three of us reached the summit, a windswept expanse of rock and mist that tumbled away into the darkness. We stood at the edge of a vast abyss from which the mountains and hills that rolled gently under the warm sun now seemed to creep along the horizon and blot out the stars. Far away the dull glow of the city could be seen against the underside of the clouds. The pale-yellow light was not inviting, but looked like an ethereal glow on a bleak wasteland.

It was an eerie sight to behold, but only because of what seemed to lurk in the shadows, as if beckoning to us from beyond the veil of reality. As we silently gazed out over the wasteland, we felt a strange, unsettling presence, as if we were being watched by unseen forces that lurked just beyond the limits of our perception.

Suddenly, a chill wind rose up and without warning we heard it: a great scream that crashed upon us like an enormous wave. Mickey and Nate nearly jumped out of their skin while I froze in place, fighting the urge to shiver as gooseflesh crept up my limbs. Slowly, I started to shine my flashlight around us, wholly expecting to see the eyes of some creature shambling through the chaparral, but there was nothing. Wordlessly we each reached for our packs. Then the disturbing sound began again, first as a deep rumble, then a low-pitched, guttural growl that gradually rose into a sharp, piercing scream. I stood frozen in terror and a primal urge awoke within me. Instinctively I felt as if I had stumbled upon something beyond my understanding, something powerful that could not be tamed or reasoned with.

We descended quickly. First whispering quietly, then cautiously growing louder. By the time we got back to the car we were cracking jokes and laughing, as if the event had never happened. And yet–even as I sit here and write this, I am still haunted by that scream. I can’t escape it. It’s as if it’s become a part of me. And sometimes, late at night, I wake up and stare at the dark corner of my room and feel a pair of eyes staring intently at me with an otherworldly hunger. And beneath those eyes is a gaping maw, filled with jagged teeth, anticipating its next meal. Then the corners of the lips pull back into a twisted smile, as if the creature has come to claim me as its own.

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Pausing on the first false peak to look at the light of the sunset on the pine valley bridge.
Pausing on the first false peak to look at the light of the sunset on the pine valley bridge.
  • Located in Guatay near Pine Valley, Guatay Mountain is a moderately strenuous hike. With a length of 5.3 miles and an elevation gain of around 1,600 feet, the hike will take most people 2 to 3 hours. Dogs are allowed but not recommended.
  • Distance from downtown San Diego: 45 miles
  • Hike length: 5.3 miles • Difficulty: Moderately strenuous • Season: October - May


Dear reader, This hike happened a couple years ago. It’s an unsettling tale which I’ve never told anyone.

Sponsored
Sponsored

“Dude, it’s over here.”

“Wait, where?” I asked, spinning around.

“Over here,” said a chaparral shrub that was rustling about twenty feet from me.

“How did you…” I started, but the shrub cut me off and began shaking violently.

“To your left, fool!”

I veered left toward the feisty shrub and my friend Nate popped his head out from a tangle of leaves. He looked scraggly, yet quite at ease, and I would have believed that the bush was his home if he’d said so.

“This way. I found it,” said Nate. His head disappearing back into the bush faster than an anxious turtle’s.

“Cool. Let me grab Mickey,” I said, turning to walk toward the parking lot where our other friend was waiting.

“You ready?”

Mickey sucked on his vape pen then crumpled into the passenger seat and looked at me out of the corner of his eye, “Yeeeeeah, let’s do it.”

As he grabbed his pack and got out of the car, I turned back toward Nate to say, “We’re com—”

But the bush boomed, “Let’s GO!” And so we did.

Mickey and I delved through the bushes and found ourselves in an oak grove that was dim and stuffy. Ragged leaves hung from ancient oaks, which were gnarled and seemed to have fallen into a deep sleep. Nothing grew on the ground and above us were crooked branches that blotted out the twilight sky. It was as if time itself had forgotten this place, allowing it to wither from a sunlit sanctuary into a poisoned tomb.

“I could fall asleep here,” whispered Mickey.

“But then the roots might curl up around you and drag you into their belly,” I mumbled cautiously.

Mickey and I tiptoed over the soft, wet leaves then ducked under a fallen branch that led us out of the oak grove and onto a defined trail. Birds were singing their last songs for the evening and lizards scuttled around while pausing to do a few push ups before continuing on. Nate was sitting on an old stump tying his shoe. Tattered leaves clung to his hair and his eyes were wild and beady.

“This way,” he said, bounding up the trail before disappearing behind a bush.

The three of us marched up the trail like Snow White’s dwarves. I was Happy, ahead of me was Grumpy and behind me was Dopey. None of us broke out into song, though I hummed Mahalia and Dua Lipa under my breath.

The path was overgrown with chaparral and the trail was slippery from a brief drizzle of rain. For the first mile we were routed north then west. Our conversation was pleasant and occasionally broken up by the hum of a passing car on old highway 80. Eventually the trail turned south up a steep slope that was badly eroded.

Clouds of bugs hovered over us and sporadically one would fly too low and cling to the sweaty sheen on our cheeks and foreheads or it would get caught in the vortex of our breath and tumble madly into our mouths and hug the back of our throats, twitching for freedom.

I coughed and spat, hoping the bug went out not in.

“You good?” asked Mickey.

“Yeah, I swallowed a fly.”

Heading up the first false peak.

After climbing for a fourth of a mile, we reached the first false peak. It was one of three high points that joined together to form a ridge that ran east-west alongside I-8. The sky was orange and fading, in the distance, headlights from passing cars lit up the Pine Valley Creek Bridge. It straddled a long, deep ravine that was black and endless. Having stopped to stare for a while, I wondered what ghastly ghouls crept out of it when the moon was just a sliver in the night sky, then I shuddered before racing to catch up with my friends who had gone on without me.

Mickey and Nate had traveled quickly and in the falling darkness I fumbled along the ridgeline looking for their flashlights ahead of me. The temperature was quickly dropping and every breath out produced a steamy cloud that radiated under my headlight and briefly blinded me. Around me I could hear the bushes rustle, either from the wind or from some critter skulking about. After what seemed like a few minutes, I still couldn’t see my friends’ flashlights and I began to wonder if I had passed them or if they were pranking me.

As I drew nearer to the second false peak, the air grew thin with mist and the sky darkened, as if the mountain itself were warning me of the dangers that lay ahead, when suddenly a sharp jolt pierced my heart. Carried by the wind was a sinister melody that I knew well. It was the haunting theme song from Halloween; the one that plays when the killer stalks his victims.

“Let’s go Michael Myers,” hollered Nate from out of the abyss ahead of me.

I chuckled, pushing the fear out of my mind. Michael Myers was a nickname that I’d been given a few years earlier by Joey and Nate, who had noticed that my hiking stride was always constant and steady (like Michael Myers’s) regardless of whether I was walking up or downhill. Occasionally Nate or Joey would play the theme song when they wanted me to catch up.

We arrived at the second false peak together. The sky was black with hints of red, like charred embers in a dying fire. Undaunted, we pressed on, scrambling over rocks and through dense thickets, driven by an insatiable curiosity that burned within our hearts.

After a half hour of climbing, the three of us reached the summit, a windswept expanse of rock and mist that tumbled away into the darkness. We stood at the edge of a vast abyss from which the mountains and hills that rolled gently under the warm sun now seemed to creep along the horizon and blot out the stars. Far away the dull glow of the city could be seen against the underside of the clouds. The pale-yellow light was not inviting, but looked like an ethereal glow on a bleak wasteland.

It was an eerie sight to behold, but only because of what seemed to lurk in the shadows, as if beckoning to us from beyond the veil of reality. As we silently gazed out over the wasteland, we felt a strange, unsettling presence, as if we were being watched by unseen forces that lurked just beyond the limits of our perception.

Suddenly, a chill wind rose up and without warning we heard it: a great scream that crashed upon us like an enormous wave. Mickey and Nate nearly jumped out of their skin while I froze in place, fighting the urge to shiver as gooseflesh crept up my limbs. Slowly, I started to shine my flashlight around us, wholly expecting to see the eyes of some creature shambling through the chaparral, but there was nothing. Wordlessly we each reached for our packs. Then the disturbing sound began again, first as a deep rumble, then a low-pitched, guttural growl that gradually rose into a sharp, piercing scream. I stood frozen in terror and a primal urge awoke within me. Instinctively I felt as if I had stumbled upon something beyond my understanding, something powerful that could not be tamed or reasoned with.

We descended quickly. First whispering quietly, then cautiously growing louder. By the time we got back to the car we were cracking jokes and laughing, as if the event had never happened. And yet–even as I sit here and write this, I am still haunted by that scream. I can’t escape it. It’s as if it’s become a part of me. And sometimes, late at night, I wake up and stare at the dark corner of my room and feel a pair of eyes staring intently at me with an otherworldly hunger. And beneath those eyes is a gaping maw, filled with jagged teeth, anticipating its next meal. Then the corners of the lips pull back into a twisted smile, as if the creature has come to claim me as its own.

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