For centuries, Big Sur residents have seen ‘Dark Watchers’ in the mountains

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If you want to see a Dark Watcher, 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 10 feet tall, made taller or wider by hats or capes. They may turn to look at you. But they always move away quickly and disappear.

For centuries, tales of the Dark Watchers have swirled in the misty Santa Lucia Mountains. Most stories begin with the local native tribes, which allegedly spoke of the shadowy figures in their oral traditions. When the Spanish arrived in the 1700s, they began calling the apparitions 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.

Accounts vary, although everyone agrees the beings are more shadowy than human and more observant than aggressive. They took their most solid form in the first half of the 20th century, when two legendary writers memorialized them.

In 1937, Robinson Jeffers, poet of life along the Central Coast, drew inspiration from the watchers for his collection “Such Counsels You Gave To Me and Other Poems.”