Vanderpool, Texas is such a small community that once, back in the ’90s, only had around 20 residents. Besides that, the area still gets a lot of tourist activity. Tourists come to Vanderpool mostly to hunt and go camping at the Lost Maples State Natural Area up North.
Lost Maples is home to some of nature’s most beautiful landscapes. Located on the upper Sabinal River, the natural area is painted with hills and canyons, ponds and forests. While efforts are being made to preserve the area in its natural state, Lost Maples has been open to visitors since ’79. Visitors can enjoy about 30 modern campsites, 11 miles of hiking trails, and numerous primitive camping areas.
It is in the primitive camping areas where things turn sideways.
Beware waking the sleeper when you camp near Vanderpool, Texas
“There were five of us,” our source told us. The girl and her friends decided to spend a weekend in Lost Maples to enjoy the weather and hike the East Trail. “We turned right, towards a pond and set up camp.” Not far away from the water, there was a clearing surrounded by trees. At night, they could hear the sounds of the forest nearby.
Until they heard something more sinister.
“At first, it was just whispers,” she told us. “Words riding on the wind. Sounded like wake,” she said, shivering. Lying in the tent she shared with her boyfriend, who was asleep, the girl stepped outside to see what was happening.
Her friend emerged from the neighboring tent, looking perplexed. She turned on her flashlight, casting the light around them. The whispers died as soon as the light hit the trees. She went back inside the tent.
“He remained outside,” she told us, tears in her eyes. “I did not see what hit him.”
But the flashlight had fallen to the ground, casting the man’s shadow on the flaps of her tent. “He flailed and screamed,” she said, “and he begged, whatever it was, to let him go.” Yet, the shadow on the tent only showed the man. “I was frozen at first,” she told us, “but I realized he must be messing with me.”
But when she stepped outside the tent, she realized her error. “An oily thing, black as night, glided away from him. It glinted with a dull red shine in the moonlight.” Her friend still wakes up at night, screaming, telling everyone that now, he must go back there once a year.
The Sleeper will steal a part of you and compel you to return
We managed to get a few locals to talk about the legend of the Sleeper. The Sleeper has been around, according to the legend, since before the town was established. Local youth would go camping at Lost Maples and come back scared out of their minds. Yet, every year, they would go camping again. Every year, they would come back bleak, exhausted, and sad.
Some of them packed their bags and left, never to return. The Sleeper, they say, only wakes in certain moments, for certain people. They say he takes a part of your soul, and every year, you go back to Lost Maples, trying to get it back.
Maybe you should stick to the modern camping sites when you explore the area around Vanderpool, Texas.