“My pops and I are avid campers, not professionals anymore but my dad used to be a wilderness guide for kids. We typically prefer the eastern/western sierras as they have great car camping spots next to lakes and a lot of great trails. Last summer we decided to go up for a two-night stay and do some day hiking.
The campground was pretty full, not unusual for the summer, but we were lucky enough (I thought at the time) to find a pretty secluded site and we set up our tents. First night was normal. Little bear activity, but we’re used to that. Second night, I crawl into my backpacking tent (head and toes hit both ends- very small) and I pass out cold… until about 3 am when I wake up to the sound of footsteps. My dad is a diabetic and needs to get up to pee around 3-4 times a night, and the sounds are definitely footprints but they’re coming from the wrong direction. We were located next to the bathrooms, so the footsteps should be moving in that direction but they’re coming closer to my tent. They stop about a yard short and the breathing gets really heavy. I first brush it off as my dad, maybe lost without a flashlight. The breathing goes away. I fall back asleep only to be woken a few minutes later to breathing right above the tent. You know that rush of terror up your spine? I had that.
This wasn’t dad.
I laid perfectly still but the footprints continued to circle the tent. I had the rainfly on so I couldn’t see through the roof and it was a new moon and pitch black. Now I convince myself, a heavy sleeper, that I’m dreaming. Just as that thought runs through my head I feel a single finger run the length of my foot through the tent… real slow and methodical. Now, I figure, I have to be dreaming because my foot is in my sleeping bag and I couldn’t possibly feel that. But that comfort disappeared quickly when I realized (using the small ambient light available, that my foot was bare and out of the bag. I laid frozen as… whatever it was… Stroked my foot for a minute or two, gave a few more labored breaths and then just stood above my tent for what felt like an eternity before disappearing. I stayed up all night.
In the morning I heard my dad get out of his tent, I bolted up and met him by the fire. He looked me in the eye and asked if I had gotten up the night before. I asked him the same and he said he had at around 2am because he thought someone was going through our stuff. As I told him my story we noticed our gear had been neatly rearranged on the table. Every item. Nothing taken. Footprints in a perfect circle around my tent. We still can’t even talk about it.” – kitteninabearsuit