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Strange Accounts From North Idaho

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Dopplegangers in the Valley of Shadows

“Who are these? Why sit they here in twilight? … Ever from their lair and through their hands’ palm; Misery swelters.” – Wilfred Owen

Jody Forest got the jump on me last May with his “Dopplegangers I Have Known” piece. This first tale is quite different from his.

I’ve related several unusual and bizarre accounts about people’s odd encounters and experiences in the woods of North Idaho over the past five years, and the following is no exception.

Ever wonder about some of the unexplained differences in the world? Or stranger yet, an odd reappearance? A person who has been missing and returns after several months, or even years, and even though family and friends are happy for the person’s return, they seem… different.

 Of course, the time away and their experiences could, and in most cases likely does, explain this change. But there could be another explanation, one that perhaps crosses the veil into another possibility or shall we say… another reality. One that the following could explain.

Look for yellow eyes; they need not be jaundice, but the telltale sign of nature’s or perhaps Super nature’s, copy.

This account takes place one summer in the 1950s somewhere in and around a logging camp here in the forests of North Idaho.

My source, who was then a young man in his twenties, I’ll call “Jake.”

The housing boom of the post-war era was going strong and Jake had no trouble finding logging jobs. In grade school during World War II, his dad was partly disabled from a wound he sustained. Through hard work, the good money Jake, an only child, made came in handy in supporting himself and his parents, even though his dad had some benefits from his war service. His mother was a housewife.

Enough with the background. It was late May and, while Jake would get off one day a week, and three days a month, the logging job would last  through late September or early October, depending on the weather.

Long days took their toll, but the pay for four-plus months work would provide not only Jake’s parents with the extra to make their year more comfortable, but Jake’s tuition and most of his living expenses in the fall to attend the University of Idaho.

ne hot day in late August, the young man and an older logger were limbing some fallen trees (his term, not mine). It wasn’t unusual that they would find themselves yards apart, and though they might be out of eyesight, usually kept within ear shot.

After nearly an hour, Jake, exhausted and drenched in sweat, leaned against the last log he had limbed.

Drinking from a canteen, he suddenly noticed what he thought was his partner a hundred yards away. The other man was walking away. But it was funny as the older man should have been in the opposite direction, behind Jake, nearer to the logging road.

Jake yelled to him and there came a reply, from behind him where the other should have been all along. Confused, the young man looked back. The ‘other’ partner, in the meantime, had turned to look at Jake. The man appeared to be his partner, but his clothes were different. Instead of a cut-off, short-sleeved red plaid shirt and black pants held up by suspenders, this partner wore a blue chambray shirt, blue jeans and a belt. The other thing though was what, at the time, Jake thought to be a trick of the sun and sweat in his eyes. This other partner’s eyes seemed lighter, not the brown Jake knew, but a burnt orange/yellowish color.

After several long moments the other man shouldered what appeared to be an oddly small-looking chainsaw and continued into the tree line away from the road.

At that moment, Jake’s partner suddenly spoke from three feet behind him, asking, “Whatcha lookin’ at?” Jake jumped a mile and turned to look at the man who was wearing the clothes he had  been wearing earlier that day.

That night in camp, Jake said that when he related the story to the other lumberjacks that his partner and one other man shifted and exchanged odd looks with each other.

Jake came out and asked why they were acting funny. The entire camp of eleven men looked at Jake’s partner and the other man.

Jake didn’t go into all that much detail, just said that the two men simply shrugged, and kept quiet though they continued to act strangely as the night’s conversations came to an end.

Jake worked the rest of the season and the first part of the next until he had enough money to attend the University of Idaho at Moscow that fall of 1956. He got a degree in forestry, and married just before President Kennedy was assassinated. HE had one child and now lives in Everett, Wash., along with his wife and several grandkids. But he always wondered about the two men in the lumber camp of North Idaho. Why the odd reaction to having seen a double to one of their own? Had they had their own odd encounters they had not wanted to share?

More accounts from the forests of North Idaho next time, in the Valley of Shadows.

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Author info

Lawrence Fury Lawrence Fury is an inveterate letter-to-the-editor writer, and a conservative conscience for this area of North Idaho. He's also an expert on local ghost stories, and is compiling a group of them for future book publication. You can read more about him in a Love Notes feature for the River Journal

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Valley of Shadows, dopplegangers

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