Wednesday, March 11, 2009

true story

i've never actually seen a ghost, phantom, spirit, or likewise. i do, however, think that i have been to haunted places. my dog accompanied me once, and was a very convincing witness.

now, most people can say they thought they heard a strange voice somewhere that was nothing more that a creaky vent shaft. so i won't go into detail about hearing babies cry every time i go into my bathroom. i will, instead, share my experience at high tor state park, which happens to be directly across the street from my home.

as my lovely mutt is one of those high-energy (walk me lots or i'll destroy your house) types, i often take him hiking for exercise. we gravitate towards the more desolate areas, less likely to draw crowds, simply because of my dear pet's tendency to, oh, you know, bite.

i prefer to walk with him off his leash, mostly because he loves being able to stretch his legs a bit more than our 700-square-foot apartment will allow. our usual routine is him running 10 feet ahead, then turning, panting, waiting for me to catch up before hurtling forward again at full sprint.

one crisp autumn afternoon, we found ourselves entering a trail that began on a bluff, overlooking our neighborhood. the orange and red leaves marked the sides of the path, drawing us further into the woods. there were absolutely no indications of any other hikers nearby. we were alone.

as we walked, a feeling of claustrophobia mounted. unusual for me, one who is prone to almost being hypnotized by the beauty of forests, cherishing nature's display. as utterly alone as we were, i put my companion's leash back on after only a few minutes. it wasn't hard, he was huddled next to my legs.

about 15 minutes deep, we noticed a side trail that appeared to go up to a look-out point. we headed up the steep, rocky slope. it was even more solitary than the trail below. at the summit, i was desperately trying to take a picture that encompassed the magnificent view. it wasn't working. the longer i stood, rotating my vantage point, the more my dog whimpered and whined. when he finally distracted me enough for me to notice his anxiety, we started back down the slope.

we reached the original trail, and i froze. where we had left the main trail and turned to go up the cliff, we had left no footprints. it hadn't rained in days, the ground was not nearly soft enough to take impressions unless they were forcibly made. yet upon our return to this divergence of path, there were, clear as day, a set of man's footprints leading away from the very spot where we were standing that were not there before.

i can hear your protest now, 'isn't it possible that the footprints were there all along and you didn't notice them?' the simple truth here is that as i was navigating the change in trail from wide, level dirt walkway to uneven climb, i was intently watching the ground. and if there were a person approaching or even nearby, my faithful friend's supersonic hearing would have prompted unmistakable barking.

so as my brain comprehended the footprints, i ran (i mean, jogged, umm, walked really fast) back through the now dense woods for the open air at the exit. i listened for any suspicious noise and only heard suspicious silence. all the while my dog stayed within inches of my side, and repeatedly looked back over his shoulder, behind himself. i had never seen him do anything of the sort, and have not again since that day.

i firmly believe that animals are very perceptive, much more so than humans could ever be. and for my four-legged friend to behave entirely out of sorts is compelling enough evidence for me. but for those of you who aren't quite convinced, i have more.

when i shared my experience with my husband, his replay was "oh YEAH! you're talking about that place across the street right? well, i forgot to tell you at the time, but i hiked up there a few months ago and it was so creepy i had to turn around and leave." he even added that our fearless canine acted very much the same way as he just had for me.

and that was the last time any of us has set foot on what we now call 'weird mountain'.


Kristine said...

I can comment now :)
Just wanted to say, again, that I hate this story and I had nightmares last night :(

Amandasaurus said...

Creeptabulous! There are some woods near where I live and me and some friends were walking through at night when something made a very loud noise (I thought it was chasing us but it wasn't). My friends tried to convince me it was just a person trying to freak us out, but we went back later and there were these huge beastly footprints.... =O