Witness Reports Encounter with Cryptid Canine During Inexplicable Darkness at Rock Cut State Park in Illinois

Lon Strickler of Phantoms & Monsters recently received the following report from someone claiming to be an amateur photographer who said they experienced a period of inexplicable darkness during which they encountered a cryptid canine while at Rock Cut State Park in Illinois.

Hi. I came across your site, and I was reading about the Chicago [winged] humanoid sightings that you’ve investigated. I also noticed that there have been sightings reported in the Rockford, Illinois area. I had a strange incident occur a few years ago and I was wondering if you could give me your thoughts on it. Even though it’s not a winged humanoid, it did involve an unexplained creature and a weird darkness?

There are a few public hiking trails near my house in Northern Illinois in Winnebago County. Rock Cut State Park is very near me as well. I’m an amateur photographer and there were great opportunities to take nature photos. I was particularly interested in taking photos of songbirds and I would always see a greater variety on this trail.

I don’t know how many times I hiked that trail, but it had to have been several dozen. I never once felt anything strange there. But then again I always stayed on the trail. Once in a while, I would venture maybe 10 yards into the woods to get a good photo but that was it. A smaller trail split off from the main trail deep in the woods. You could tell it was definitely not part of the state park trail but it had been well traveled. I never saw anybody on it, but I rarely ever saw anybody else out there at all.

My experience happened in late July 2021. I had just gotten off work and I wanted to get some photos in the evening light. So I headed out to my secluded trail. The sun sets about 9 PM in the summer so I had plenty of time after work to hike that trail and to be back to the car before dark. My hike seemed normal enough but when I got to that small trail, I noticed that it was roped off. The Park Service had posted a sign that stated hidden falls area, erosion damage and to keep out. I should have heeded the sign but I wanted to see the waterfall for myself since it could be a good photo opportunity. So down the trail, I went.

I didn’t notice any erosion damage on the way down, but I had never been on that trail before, so I didn’t really have anything to compare it to. The trail led almost straight down, and the foliage became denser. I could hear the waterfall well before I saw it. The forest suddenly opened up and there it was the hidden falls. It was almost magical, something straight out of a fairy tale. The evening sunlight pierced through the trees and lit up the falling water. I immediately pulled out my camera and began taking photos.

I was only there for about 10 minutes when I heard laughing. It didn’t sound exactly like a human voice though there was something off about it. I looked around and I couldn’t see anybody else. I called out but I didn’t get a response. I started to pack up my camera, but when I heard the laugh again and this time it sounded like it was coming from the stream itself. I listened closer and I was certain it was at the stream. I stuffed my camera back into my bag and I wanted to get the hell out of there. But just as I stood up to leave it had suddenly gotten dark. I don’t mean dark like the sun was setting, I mean dark like the middle of the night! I looked at my watch. It was 6:45 and I knew I had about two hours of sunlight left but it was dark. I could see stars through the gaps in the trees. I didn’t know what was going on but I knew something wasn’t right. I had to get myself back to the car as fast as I could.

I got on the trail heading out and used my cell phone as a flashlight. As I climbed out I heard the laughing again, but this time it sounded like it was coming from the trees. So I aimed my light at the trees but I couldn’t see anything. Then I caught it! A pair of eyes reflected back at me. They stared at me for a moment and then the laughing began again. I held the light towards the creature and it showed itself for just a moment. It ducked from beneath some branches and stood there in the light. It looked like a coyote standing about 30 feet up a tree. It looked at me, tilted its head, and it smiled, but not like a dog smile. I don’t quite know how to describe it but I knew it wasn’t a coyote. As soon as it revealed itself it laughed again and I ran! I could barely see where I was going but I didn’t care. I knew that I needed to get away.’

I have never felt such relief after I reached my vehicle. The sky was light again and it was as if nothing had happened. I have not gone back to the state park. I’ve never figured out just what that coyote or whatever actually was or what it wanted. I never made any inquiries since I had no plans to ever return.

Strickler told The Singular Fortean Society that the witness refuses to return to the area and is reluctant to discuss the matter further. Communication between Strickler and the witness was conducted exclusively via email.

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The winged humanoid sightings referenced by the witness have been reported throughout northern Illinois and southeast Wisconsin and are part of a larger phenomenon of sighting reports submitted from every state bordering Lake Michigan.

Click here to see a detailed timeline of those reports.

High strangeness experiences in out-of-the-way places are not uncommon in the realm of forteana.

A man in Springfield, Illinois, reported a 2003 encounter with a humanoid flying a scooter during which, he said, “the trees seemed like they were spinning in circles around the top, and I felt like the trees were going to grab me, like they were alive, like the whole woods were alive.”

Angela Nichols reported that, in 1987, she and her family heard a mysterious, haunting melody with no discernible source while fishing on the Saline River in Arkansas.

Shirley Ivey said she, her husband, their teenage daughters, and at least two strangers all experienced a strange spacetime distortion while visiting Georgia’s Okefenokee Swamp in 2000.

And in 2022, a woman reportedly became “pixie-led” while traversing a patch of woods in County Meath, Ireland.


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