Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Spooky Hikes

I've been on a few hikes where I happened upon some spooky places that made me feel very vulnerable. There were various reasons for these feelings of vulnerability. Once, hiking in the Standing Indian Basin and heading for a waterfall, I just suddenly had the impression that I was being watched. I can't say why...it was just a feeling. Here are some spooky places where my hikes have taken me:

I took this one at The Jumpoff, a vast cliff face on Mount Kephart. It was very early in the morning (I'd started my hike in the dark)and the fog was hanging heavy. I looked up amidst the trees and snapped this photo.

Several times in my many hikes I've gotten lost. Not lost as in turned around on the trail, but lost as in there was no trail anymore. This has always happened to me in red spruce forests. There's something about the uniformity of a red spruce forest that messes up my sense of direction. It's my kryptonite.

Back in 2004 when I was first trying to hit all of the old growth hemlock groves before they became extinct, I was hiking in the famed Boogerman Grove in the Great Smokies. I had stopped to rest and as I lay on the ground I noticed a faint trail leading up into the woods. Curious, I decided to follow it. It led into a very small clearing with weird little rocks sticking out of the ground. It only took a few seconds to realize that they were graves. After taking a couple of shots I just felt kind of creepy and backtracked to the main trail. I've been back three times but have been unable to locate this place again.

While hiking to see this waterfall...

...I used this trail to access it. Walking along, I suddenly felt the hairs on the back of my neck prickle. Gooseflesh went up my spine. I looked around, but never saw anything. However, as the light was fading, I did pick up the pace to get the hell out of there.

This is a bright and sunny photo, but I had to ford this stream in Panthertown Valley during a time when I was probably the only person in that 7K-acre preserve. This was above a waterfall and the water was swift. I just felt very alone as I took off my boots to ford the creek, worrying about getting across and wondering what would happen if I didn't...


Mark Rainey said...

That's some good stuff. I love finding places that are in some fashion disconcerting — if not necessarily dangerous. I was thrilled to find a place this weekend that -was- HPL's setting for "The Whisperer in Darkness," if transplanted to Kibler Valley, VA, from the Green Mountains of Vermont.

James Robert Smith said...

I'm pretty sure Carole and I have been there. But I don't recall stopping and hanging out.