Episode 8: The Appalachian Trail Mysteries (Anthology)
The Mountain Mysteries
The Appalachian Trail Mysteries (Anthology)
The Mountain Mystery of The Trail of Mystery
The Appalachian Trail is one of the USA’s most famed hiking routes. The vast journey crosses nearly 2,200 miles and runs from Maine to Georgia. It’s the longest dedicated hiking trail in the world. With that big of an influence on our culture and history, it's no wonder so many urban legends and scary stories are based around the trail.
Most of the Appalachian Trail is deserted and isolated, cutting through mountains and thick woods. And when you've been hiking for a few days, and haven't seen civilization in a while, your mind can start to play tricks on you. Or maybe it’s no trick. Maybe there really are unexplained incidents and creatures waiting in those woods. Maybe ….
These are The Mountain Mysteries, and this, is Episode 8…The Trail of Mystery
In 1988, a man was hiking along the trail when he underwent an experience perhaps more frightening than a ghostly encounter. He was hiking on the trail when he noticed a bright light coming from the forest next to him. Not wanting to bother anyone, or anything… he didn't investigate, but set up camp somewhere close by.
He awoke in the middle of the night to find a man standing over his hammock. Stunned, the man quickly fled and yelled to unseen people that the hiker was awake. The hiker was terrified and quickly packed up to put as much distance between them as possible.
A few days of non-stop hiking finally allowed the hiker to relax a little bit, but that night, he was sleeping in his hammock when suddenly he was cut down, wrapped up, and dragged away. He was severely beaten while the people shouted at one another as they were preparing something. Luckily, the hiker was able to cut through the hammock and escape. Even though he made it back to civilization, police inquiries into finding the people who kidnapped him came back with nothing.
A young couple was on the Appalachian trail in the southern part of Virginia when something happened that they could not explain. While they were asleep in their tent one evening, they suddenly woke up to the sound of rustling and odd noises coming from outside. The man went out to see what was going on and managed to scare off some figures he saw creeping around. He almost chased after them, but then decided against it.
The next night, they made camp with their backs to a cliff in order to be prepared. They both slept with guns next to them and sure enough, the figures returned. Once the man announced they were armed, the figures retreated. The next day, the couple hustled to get out of there.
Around midday, they rounded a corner and saw a silhouette of a figure standing in the distance, watching them from afar. They quickly were able to get off the trail and back to civilization, but the whole time they felt they were being watched.
Children usually make everything creepier, and that's what makes this story even more scary. By the account, he was backpacking along the Appalachian Trail with a few people, when something bizarre happened. He and his group awoke one morning to find their campsite surrounded by a thick mist. As they were packing up, they started to hear children's laughter coming from all around them.
Once they were about done packing up, a group of children lead by one parent walked out of the mist and started to walk past the group. The kids asked the backpackers where they were going, and someone responded that they were hiking the Appalachian Trail. The kids started to laugh and one of them said, "This isn't the Appalachian Trail," and kept walking. Throughout the day, the campers could hear the kids laughing all around them.
In May of 1972, a hiker claims to have seen a ghost from another era. The hiker was walking alone and noticed a heavy ground fog had started to surround him. He looked up and saw a person walking with a heavy coat and wide-brimmed hat. The man slowly staggered about, looking at the ground as if he was looking for something that had been lost. The man started walking toward the hiker, still looking down at the ground, so the hiker moved to avoid him.
When they were close to each other, the man suddenly looked at the hiker, who instantly became afraid of the man's cloudy, blue eyes that stared straight through him. He was also shocked to realize that the man's clothes all seemed to come from a different time. The hiker tried to say hello, but the man did not respond. After the hiker walked a little distance, he turned back only to discover the man had completely disappeared.
An urban legend known throughout the country, The Pierce Pond Ghost. The take begins as a man was hiking along Pierce Pond in Maine when he experienced a shock that he'll never forget. One night, while by the campfire, he suddenly spotted a figure walking a short distance away from his campsite. It was ghostly in appearance and looked like a woodsy outdoorsman type with what appeared to be fishing gear. It wasn't long before the figure faded into the night.
The man didn't know what to think of it, but the next night, the ghostly figure returned, only this time, it stopped to stare at the hiker. Getting the message, the hiker abandoned his camp and ran off into the forest. He hid behind a tree and waited until morning to return, pack up his stuff, and get out of there quickly.
Sometimes ghosts don't have to do much to be creepy. A young girl who was hiking with her parents experienced her first ghostly encounter after they stopped to camp for the night. Her father was fast asleep, but something was frightening her and she couldn't keep her eyes shut. The next morning, she found her mother and asked if they could go for a walk. While out exploring, her mother suddenly stopped.
The girl followed her gaze and saw a hazy apparition standing against a tree not too far away. It was a man who looked calm and sad. After a tense few moments, the man just faded away, leaving the mother alone with her child.
In 1862, three major Civil War battles were fought over different passes on what is now the Maryland section of the Appalachian Trail. Many lives were lost in the bloodshed and carnage. The death count was so high that it seems some spirits still remain. People hiking over the passes report seeing ghost soldiers, odd campfires, and the sound of cannons blasting in the distance.
On top of that, near the farm of a man named Daniel Wise, the bodies of 58 soldiers were tossed down an old well. This has caused reports of ghostly figures wandering around Wise's property.
The Spearfinger legend originates from the Cherokee Indians and has been used to scare children for years. She is a witch-like hag, who is said to be able to take on the persona of a sweet, old grandmother. She lurks around the highest peaks of the Smokey Mountains, keeping a special eye out for children who have wandered away from their parents. She likes to prey on their fear, telling them she will help find their parents, but slowly sings them to sleep.
Once the child is sleeping soundly, Spearfinger will use her fingers and gouge out their liver and eat it in front of them.
Dudleytown, CT has an ominous nickname: The Village of the Damned. It's called that because of its horrifying history. It was founded by descendants of Edmund Dudley, who was beheaded by Henry VIII for treason and was said to have cursed land and a cursed family. And the Appalachian Trail runs right by it.
Dudleytown was built in the eighteenth century and was abandoned in the nineteenth century, leaving only ruins in its wake. No one knows for sure why it was abandoned, but some people believe it's because residents who stayed there soon went insane or committed suicide after claiming they were possessed by demons.
Nowadays, people report seeing strange lights and orbs surrounding the area.
Every year, about 24 hikers go missing on the Appalachian Trail, but a vast majority are found within just two days. That's what makes the peculiar case of Geraldine Largay even more mysterious. The 66-year-old was halfway through hiking the trail in 2013 when she just vanished. On that day, she was planning on hiking eight miles north to meet her husband at a rest stop.
Throughout her entire journey, her husband met up with her at certain points to provide encouragement and supplies, but Largay never arrived. Her body was found in 2015, just thirty minutes from a road that led to town.
Reported crime is rare on the Appalachian Trail, which makes the story of Randall Lee Smith even more frightening. Back in the '80s, Smith pleaded guilty to murdering two hikers on the trail. He admitted to befriending and spending time with them on the trail, but then in the middle of the night he shot one of them and stabbed the other. He was sentenced to 30 years in prison but ended up serving only half of his sentence. Once he got out, he tried to do the exact same thing.
He befriended two fishermen on the trail and tried to kill them both. He shot them, but they both survived. Smith tried to flee the scene in a pickup truck but crashed and died from his injuries a few days later.
In 2011, a man took a week off of work to go hiking along the Appalachian Trail, but it turned into a frightening experience he would never forget. One night, he heard noises coming from outside his tent but didn't bother to go out to investigate. The following night, he was sitting around his fire, when suddenly he was shocked to see a man standing near his firewood. His hands and body were badly burned, and his face was smoking. The man was too afraid to even move, and the burned figure just stared at him with vacant eyes before walking away. This scared the man beyond all reason, and he quickly packed up to leave the area.
While leaving the trail, he came across a recently burned down house with a sheriff around it. The sheriff told the man that four days prior, the same day that the hiker started his trip, an entire family burned alive in the house.
Now is this true? Probably not, as it's a story we've all heard before, but it shows how ghost stories have the ability to adapt to their surroundings. In this case, the Appalachian Trail served as an helpful environment.
One of the Appalachian Trail's most enduring urban legends is that of Ottie Cline Powell. On top of Bluff Mountain, you can find a marker with information about four-year-old Powell, who passed in that exact spot over one hundred years ago. Since then, hikers have reported seeing a little boy wandering the campgrounds looking for something, but never actually finding it.
Nobody knows how Powell died, which has caused countless theories about him and why he still haunts the area. People have also gone out of their way to create entire narratives explaining what happened to Powell, but the actual truth seems lost to history.
The White Mountains are one of the Appalachian Trail's most beautiful sections, but one spot in the heart of the mountains might cause some pause. The Greenleaf Hut is rumored to be inhabited by the spirit of Ben Campbell, the former hut master. The interesting thing about his tale is that he did not die on the trail. He passed away on a hike in Scotland.
It's said he was supposed to be returning to the White Mountains, but died before he could, and now his spirit roams about. Those who have reported seeing him also report hearing footsteps at night.