by Janae Mitchell
The drive to the secluded cabin was even more foreboding than the stories that brought us there. Dilapidated barns and abandoned houses with broken out windows lined the curvy gravel road that left a cloud of dust in our wake. It was like driving through a backwoods ghost town.
I didn’t want to go on this investigation since cabins in the woods are usually the go-to locations for horror movies. However, when my son, Zak, heard where my team was going—deep in the Appalachian woods—he begged me to go. So, there I was, driving to the middle of nowhere to investigate ghost stories and Bigfoot sightings.
Of course, we couldn’t drive all the way to the cabin, since it truly was in the middle of the woods, so we had to walk the last couple of hundred yards. As the cabin came into view, nestled in the center of a small clearing, the first thing I thought was how cute and quaint it looked. That feeling quickly changed as we got closer. Despite the sunlight that danced through the trees, the air felt heavy.
Signs of the life that had once inhabited the cabin were everywhere—an old handmade ax and sawblades still hung on the walls, a dusty lantern sat on the woodstove, and jars filled with long-forgotten food lined the windowsills. I had seen the cabin on a documentary days before we went, but it felt a lot different actually being there, standing on the front porch.
As daylight began to fade, so did my last bit of confidence. The small fire that we started and torches that we put out to light up the small clearing didn’t abate the creepy factor that the darkness had ushered in. All they seemed to do was cause shadows to flicker around the trees, increasing my uneasiness.
The current landowners and a local historian stopped by to tell us, firsthand, the stories and legends they’d heard and experienced through the years. Sitting around the campfire, listening to their tales of ghostly apparitions and haunted cemeteries, creeped me out even more than I already was, like their words were giving life to the legends.
As they spoke, with all of us bathed in the bright glow of the fire, I felt exposed. It was almost a relief when it was time to investigate, and we started down the trail, cloaked in darkness. However, that feeling of safety was only temporary.
Zak started knocking on trees once we were out of sight of the cabin. Within a few minutes, his knocks were returned.
“Did you hear that?” I asked as we all stopped.
“Yeah, two knocks,” Zak replied with a grin.
The woods went silent, so we continued down the trail. After a few hundred feet, the trail became thick and overgrown. With only our flashlights, it was too much to try to hike through in the dark, especially since there was a pond down there that we didn’t want to get too close to—a pond that held its own stories.
While we stood there, debating what to do, a growl came from right in front of us, causing Zak’s friend, who’d been standing right next to me, to take off running. “Nope, nope, nope,” he said as he fled with me right behind him.
“What did y’all hear?” James, the leader of our team, asked as we rushed by. He was the one with the gun, so he didn’t seem as quick to flee.
I told him about the growl and how I was done wandering around the dark woods. “I’m a paranormal investigator, not a monster chaser.”
“Bigfoot,” he corrected.
As we started to head back toward the cabin, we were once again stopped as a distant scream echoed through the trees around us.
“Well, I sure did hear that,” James said with a laugh.
“Okay, I’m done.” Within minutes, I was back at the cabin, telling the ones who’d stayed back what we’d heard.
“We’ve had activity here, too,” Laura said. "The EMF has been spiking off the charts, and there's no reason for it."
“Unless there isa reason for it,” James interjected.
We hung out at the cabin for the next hour, doing EVP sessions and watching the EMF detectors as we listened to eerie sounds in the woods that seemed to come from all around us. I kept shining my flashlight through the trees, but there was nothing there—nothing I could see, anyway.
I’d been to haunted homes and some of the most active abandoned hospitals in the South, but none of those places freaked me out like this place did. From the moment we cut off the main road, I just didn’t feel safe.
“I think I’m ready to go,” I admitted.
Zak stood up, grabbing his tree knocker from the edge of the porch. “But it’s not even ten o’clock.” Before he made it to the large tree that stood in front of the cabin, he stopped and turned around.
“What?” I jumped up, scanning the woods behind him. “Did you see something?”
“No, my back is burning.”
“Yeah, like, really bad.”
“Let me see.” I walked over and raised the back of his shirt. “Oh, my gosh.”
There were three scratches across his back—two going down the center and one through the middle, like an 'H.'
“How did I get scratches on my back? I’ve been sitting right beside you.”
“I don’t know. What I doknow is that I’m ready to go.”
At that point, he didn’t argue.
The ride home, past the creepy barns and fog-laden fields, made my skin crawl. Even when we got back onto the main road, well-lit by streetlights, an eeriness still lingered inside my car. I cracked the windows, hoping the cool, fresh air would help, but it didn’t. Even though we’d left the creepiness of the woods, that creepiness hadn’t left us.
That’s the thing about legends and folklore… they linger. They linger in conversations and curiosity, coming alive in our imaginations. Sometimes, it’s because there’s a bit of truth to them. Searching for the truth is what led us to the middle of the Appalachian woods that night. Personally, after what we experienced, I think the truth is better left a mystery—a legend.
Actual Photos by Author, Janae Mitchell.
You May Also Enjoy: