Navajo Mountain is a scary campfire story about a Native American man who encounters a skinwalker.
When I was in high school, our history teacher took a group of us on a backpacking trip to Navajo Mountain. One night, while we were all gathered around the campfire, he dropped a story on us that chilled us to the bone. This teacher is very sensible and well-liked. He assured us that he doesn’t normally believe in ghost stories and the like, but he’s convinced that the man who told him this story is for real.
Navajo Mountain sits on a reservation in northern Arizona and it is reputed to be haunted by several skinwalker spirits. These creatures are know as Native American shape shifters. They say the skinwalkers of Navajo Mountain are bloodthirsty beings, who protect the cultural relics which can be found at ancient sites throughout the mountain. It is said that the skinwalkers of Navajo Mountain will kill anyone who disturbs the artifacts, and then they will take on the shape, or “skin” of their victim. The site has a lot of ancient artifacts, such as arrowheads, pottery shards and artwork on rock faces. While we were camping there, we saw lots of these artifacts, but we were strictly warned not to touch any of them.
My teacher said that the last time he traveled to Navajo Mountain was about 10 years ago, during his Summer vacation. He was there to do some hiking and camping. He had only been on the mountain a couple of days when a storm rolled through. There was thunder and lightning and it was raining heavily, so he quickly packed up his gear and drove to the nearby town to wait out the storm.
While he was sitting in the local bar, nursing a beer, a strange, bedraggled man came in and sat down at the bar beside him. The man turned to look at him and my teacher said he noticed the man had “cold, dead eyes”.
The man stared at him for a minute before asking, “Doing some camping around here?”
My teacher said that yes, he was spending some time on Navajo mountain, but was waiting out the storm with a beer.
The man nodded and said, “I’ve seen some crazy things on that mountain.”
Intrigued, my teacher asked him what he’d seen.
The man said he used to have a stall, selling Native American artifacts by the roadside to tourists who were driving through. He had some Navajo blood in his family and he had a reservation-issued permit to pick up small artifacts from the area, like pottery shards and small stone tools. The man said he had two brothers, one older and one younger, who would often help him comb the mountain for objects they could sell at their stand.
One day, the man asked his younger brother to head up to the mountain and see if he could find some more artifacts. He told him he would come by in his truck to pick him up a few hours later. The brother set out to hitch a ride to the site.
A couple of hours later, business was drying up for the day, so the man shut his stall and set out to meet his brother. He drove up to the mountain, parked in the dirt lot and started calling his brother’s name. As he wandered up the path, he heard a strange noise. It sounded like someone snickering.
Growing uneasy, the man continued up the trail and the snickering grew louder. He said it sounded like his younger brother’s voice. The eerie snickering turned into a deep, booming laugh. According to the man, the laughter was so malevolent and evil, it almost caused the blood to freeze in his veins. He was certain it sounded like his brother, but he had never heard his brother laugh like that before.
After about 100 yards, the man was rounding a rocky outcropping, when he suddenly spotted his younger brother standing about 50 feet up on a cliff. The man stopped in his tracks and stared in horror. His brother’s throat had been slit from ear to ear and blood was pouring from the wound. His eyes were wild and he was laughing.
Whatever it was, the man knew it wasn’t his brother anymore.
When it saw the man, the thing stopped laughing. It slowly turned its head to the sky and let out a blood-curdling howl. The horrified man turned and ran as fast as he could, back to his truck. He could hear the thing running behind him, hot on his heels. He managed to make it to his truck and jumped in. Revving the engine, he tore out of the parking lot as fast as he could. Looking in his rear-view mirror, he saw the creature chasing him down the road. It was running on all fours right behind the truck. The thing followed him all the way back to his house and never stopped grinning for the entire drive.
The man scrambled out of his truck and ran into his house, slamming the door behind him. When he peeked out the window, he saw the thing that used to be his brother. It was sitting in the middle of his lawn, grinning up at the window, blood still dripping from where its throat had been sliced open.
This went on for two days. The man was too terrified to leave his house. Occasionally, the creature would laugh its horrible laugh, or howl at the moon.
On the third day, the man called the local shaman for advice. The town’s shaman was highly disturbed by this news, and advised the man to stay in his house until the moon started its waning phase. At that point, he said, the Skinwalker would return to the mountain. The shaman expressed his sympathies for the loss of the man’s brother and assured him he would chant and pray for the spirit to move on.
Fortunately, the man had enough food and water to wait the five days it took for the moon to pass it’s full phase and start to wane. On the second night of waning, the man went to his window and saw that the Skinwalker was indeed gone.
Relieved, the man called the shaman to tell him the good news. The shaman asked the man if he had seen his older brother recently, as nobody in the town had seen him for a few days, and there was no one running the brothers’ roadside stand. The man said he had not heard from him, but that he was going to head back up and check out the mountain, as he had a sudden feeling of certainty that that was where he would find his older brother.
The man got in his truck and headed up to the dirt lot and parked his truck. As soon as he opened the door, he heard a familiar sound. That evil, malevolent, unearthly laughter. But this time, there was something different about it. This time, it sounded like two voices.
The man looked up and saw his two brothers, standing on top of the rock face, both grinning down at him, both dripping blood from the gaping wounds in their necks.
The man jumped back in his truck and tore out of there like a bat out of hell. He didn’t even look in his rear-view mirror until he got to the edge of town. When he finally did check, there was nothing following him, just the memory of his brothers’ dead laughter.