For at lest 300 years, hikers in California’s Santa Lucia Mountains have been reporting sightings of shadowy, mysterious silhouettes popularly known as “dark watchers”.
If you want to see one of them, you should wait until the late afternoon.
As the sun begins its descent behind the waves, look to the sharp ridges of the Santa Lucia Range, the mountains that rise up from the shores of Monterey and down the Central California coast. If you are lucky, you might see figures silhouetted against them. Some say the watchers are at least 3 meters tall, made taller or wider by hats or capes.
They may turn to look at you but, eventually, they always move away quickly and disappear.
The first reports of giant figures ominously perched on mountaintops date back to the 1700s, when the Spanish first came to California, despite most stories begin with the local native tribes, which allegedly spoke of the shadowy figures in their oral traditions.
Actually, Spanish were the first to dub these mysterious strangers “los Vigilantes Oscuros”, literally “the dark watchers”, and as Anglo American settlers began staking claims in the region, they too felt the sensation of being watched from the hills, until the figures became part of the local folklore.
Either way, dark watchers still today show themselves to hikers in the Santa Lucia Mountains, and some have even been captured on camera.
According to local stories, no one has seen a dark watcher up close, as even when brave hikers try to approach them, they magically disappear.
Despite some believe them to be cryptids, like the Sasquatch or Bigfoot, most scientists believe that they are the nothing more than examples of pareidolia or simple optical illusions.
A little bit like when you look at a fluffy white cloud and start to spot a resemblance to a rabbit, a horse or even a human figure, or when you start seeing faces in the surface of the moon at night.
Well, that’s pareidolia, and for many this explains the sightings of the Dark Watchers in the Santa Lucia.
Another likely explanation is a natural optical illusion known as the Brocken spectre, from the Harz Mountains’ Brocken Peak, where German locals have also been reporting sightings of shadowy silhouettes.
It, too, became a muse for writers like Lewis Carroll and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, with Brocken becoming a byword for high strangeness.
Actually, it seems that the Brocken spectre happens when shadows, like those of a hiker, are cast on particularly misty mountain peaks. If the sun is behind the observer, the mist plays with the shadow, making it look huge and menacing.
Not by chance, the phenomenon is more frequent in the Harz Mountains, where fogs regularly forms at low altitudes and it can occur on misty mountainside when the sun is at your back, and the clouds are below you.
The dark figure, which often has a rainbow halo around it can disappear if you move, or if the mist shifts, which would explain why the dark watchers are usually seen for only a few moments.
In short, hikers reporting dark watcher sightings may be the actual dark watchers, but It is only a mere theory, that many believers in esoterism and paranormal promptly contest.
But for that, you’ll have to seek your own answers in the sunset-dappled mountains….
Images from web – Google Research