More friend than foe:
[Source] In 2018 there was a report from a witness from Ojai , California, who was out hiking in the mountains when he came across something very bizarre indeed. He would say:
I was hiking up a remote trail up the 33 in Ojai, I was about an hour up the mountain, no people, no cars in sight. as I was hiking, I had this eerie feeling I was being watched. I looked up at the top of the mountain. It was a black figure. I waved, jokingly, not really thinking the object was a person. It waved back. Thinking I was maybe tripping, or that it was a tree waving in the wind, I took a puff of my cigarette, only to see the figure blow out a plume of smoke as well. I started seeing it flowing, and I say flowing, almost floating vertically. I ran like hell back to my car, spraining my knee in the process.
Steinbeck’s mother Olive Hamilton brought fruit or sometimes flowers. Steinbeck’s son Thomas said his grandmother, a school teacher, was no fabulist, but she believed firmly in the Dark Watchers. She told her children and grandchildren she left fruit or nuts in Mule Deer Canyon on her way to school in Big Sur. On the way back, there would be flowers in their place. [SFGATE]
Poet Robinson Jeffers, in his poem Such Counsels You Gave to Me & Other Poems, in which he calls them “forms that look human… but certainly are not human,” and says of them:
He thought it might be one of the watchers, who are often seen in this length of coast-range, forms that look human to human eyes, but certainly are not human. They come from behind ridges to watch. But when he approached it he recognized the shabby clothes and pale hair and even the averted forehead and concave line from the eye to the jaw, so that he was not surprised when the figure turning toward him in the quiet twilight showed his own face. Then it melted and merged into the shadows beyond it.
Tattoo by Justin Flores at Earthbound Tattoo Sand City
[Source] One strange occurrence was told of by a witness from Moreno Valley, California, who in 2011 said:
As we were killing time, in the pitch black now, we were hanging out inside and outside of the car, killing time, sharing smokes, and we started to distinctly see what looked like black shadows, evenly distributed completely encircling us, they did not move, they stayed motionless but were of significant size and based on the distance, I would say at least the size of a small car like the bug we ourselves were in. Whatever these were seemed hunched over, perhaps kneeling. Time passed, they never moved and though we walked around the car and got in and out of the car to see if what we were seeing was some sort of optical illusion, yet we couldn’t explain or discredit what we were seeing. To this day, it racks my brain.
[Source] In 2013 there was a report made by a Elizabeth Benitez of San Mateo, California, who claimed to have seen the specters in broad daylight near the San Luis Obispo reservoir. She would say of this encounter:
I remember one day my friend and I were coming back from Los Angeles. We passed the San Luis Obispo reservoir, and as we drove on the road I saw something at a distance down at the end of the mountain. It was a really big human figure, but it wasn’t. It had a black cape kind of like the grim reaper and it was leaning over holding on to a staff at a “puddle of water” or so that is what it seemed at a distance. It was in daytime too, so I could identify it wasn’t a person. Even in mid light he was very black and reminded me of a raven. I told my friend that was driving to look over at the mountains, and surprisingly she was able to see a glimpse of it. I asked her what she saw without giving her my details, and she said exactly what I saw. She only looked at it for about 5 seconds, but she was able to see it. She almost lost control of the car too when she looked away at it, and I begged her to go back and see it, but she was very tired of driving already. These Dark Watchers are real!
[Source] Also in 2013 was an account from a witness known only as “Brian,” from Hollister, California, who claimed to have seen the entities as they were driving home. He would say of the incident:
We where coming home to the San Juan Bautista/hollister side when we saw a very large dark figure standing at the edge of the mountains which is extremely weird since I’ve never seen anyone cross over the barbed wire fence and I travel that road daily and at all hours. We drove by it slowly behind the figure noticing it staring off into the distant valleys and mountains (fremonts peak). It appeared to have a large cape with straight shoulders that where very broad. It seemed to have a hunch on it’s back. At first from a distance I thought it was a condor but when I got closer it stood almost over 10 ft tall. It did not notice us driving behind it but when we found a spot on the cliffy road to turn around and get a better look it was gone.
[Source] and [Source] In 2016 there was a report from a long distance runner calling himself Joey, in Sylmar California. The witness said that he had been out training for a race in the mountains when he saw something peculiar, saying of his experience:
Time of day was 2:00 pm I was running and up in an area where no human could climb without gear I saw a black figure in plain day light. I never seen anything like it up in the mountain. Was darker than dark could not explain it. A year past and today again January 24th I saw it again and in the same spot.
[Source] Les Brennan of Ramona, CA on 2011-04-06:
While flying my twin engine Beechcraft on a southerly course and just 20 nautical miles north of Vandenberg AFB I glanced toward the Santa Lucia Range just after sunset and saw what appeared to be seven large dark figures spaced evenly apart. They had an even spacing of about 1 quarter of a mile
[Source] C. Gardner of June Lake, CA on 2011-02-03 said::
Up here in the Eastern Sierras, we see the Dark Watchers all the time. They are always out at dusk and dawn. All you see is just a tall dark silhouette. They almost look like horses standing on their hind legs with the assistance of a walking stick. Its pretty creepy, and nobody has ever seen them close up. They disappear the moment you try to get closer.
Way back mid to late 80s I use to camp and spend a lot of time in Big Sur I have seen some strange things in those woods.. They looked like wrapped in something black and what looked like small pointed ears heads... All they did was stand in one spot... After awhile they would just disappear... I couldn't get enough of what ever they were...
About 20 years ago I worked in Ventura County (as it is locally known), and decided to go for an afternoon hike in the Topatopa mountains north of Ojai. I do not recall the name of the trail. What I do recall is that it consisted almost entirely of switchbacks up a steep slope. As is typical of Southern California, the soil was mainly coarse sand and rubble, while the vegetation was California chaparral, but even drier than usual on this south-facing slope.
After about half an hour of progress, I noticed a humanoid figure silhouetted against the sky on the ridge above me. Although I experienced the profound sensation of being watched, I reasoned that this must be someone who had hiked up the trail before me, and was enjoying the view. I had no way of accurately estimating the height of the figure, and no real reason to try. The distance obscured any details. All I could be sure of was that the figure was definitely humanoid in shape.
As I continued up the slope, the figure did not move much, which struck me as odd. People often do admire views for a while, but standing in one place and looking in the same direction for an hour or so is unusual. I considered the possibility that the figure was nothing more than a tree, but if so, then it was the only tree on that part of the ridge, and oddly humanoid in shape to boot.
I was pondering this oddity when something whistled past my ear, stopping me in my tracks. Was someone shooting arrows at me? I looked around quickly, but seemed to be alone on the trail, except maybe for the figure at the top of the ridge. It was in its previous pose, though I can't say what it did when I looked away, for example to watch where I put my feet.
I considered taking cover, but my options in this direction consisted of lying down in the dust of the trail, or taking my chances in dry, spiky vegetation on a steep, loose, and crumbly slope. The meager cover that the nearby bushes offered did not seem worth the chance of a close encounter with a rattlesnake, or a certain encounter with ticks.
It was then that the hummingbird sounded its battle cry above me - a sort of tapping or clicking sound that I knew well. I looked straight up in time to see the little bird make another attack run. Likely this was a mother protecting her nest.
My sense of relief faded quickly as I hastened around the next bend of the trail. There, on the ridge, was the same humanoid figure, in the same position. The sense of being watched waxed to uncomfortable levels. What would I do if I reached the ridgetop, and this person was still staring at me? I concluded that there was no reason a dangerous person couldn't go hiking in the wilderness, and headed back down, taking care to speed past the overprotective hummingbird.
Now, my assumption all along has been that the figure on the ridge was another human being, albeit a decidedly disturbing one. But who knows?
Pictures of Brocken spectres
These were not taken in Big Sur, but are the closest we have to the experience. Photos by Rob Bennett in Snowdonia
(They don't seem to be what witnesses are describing about Dark Watchers)