There are places that I have come across while exploring wooded areas that are beyond explanation. Whenever I find myself in such a place, I often wonder what it is that causes me to feel uneasy, as if there is some sort of unrest due to something that had occurred there in the past. Could it be that it's all in my head, that I've watched too much TV and have let my imagination run wild? Or is it something else?
A bit of a disclaimer here: I don't particularly believe in ghosts or anything of the sort. But I would entertain the possibility of a traumatic event having an impact on a place. I've heard stories about battlefields, such as Gettysburg and Chickamauga, or even the Alamo. My wife gave an account of the overwhelming sense of sadness she felt at Arlington National Cemetery. These are all places where great tragedy and loss has been a part of the history, and the ghosts, real or imagined, have remained.
There is a certain spot up on a mountain between Glassy and Hogback in the Dark Corner that I found while hunting one late November evening. Half-way up a trail that crosses the top of this ridge, I entered a clearing where most of the trees had died and we're lying on the ground like gray skeletons. There was nothing growing there, except moss that carpeted the ground in places, and the fungi that was feeding on the dead timber. But the dead trees and mushrooms wasn't what bothered me.
Just up the hill from where I stood was a overhang, a rock shelter. I knew from the stories that I'd heard that bootleggers once used these shelters to house their materials like sacks of sugar and yeast. There was a hollow oak tree, possibly the biggest one that I have ever seen, in the flat where I was standing. It looked dead too, but it seemed to be standing guard over this place. I stood there and marveled at its height and girth, and then this strange sensation came over me that I couldn't explain.
It wasn't like I was being watched, it was just that I felt that I shouldn't be looking around up there. I found myself looking at the ground more than anything. I couldn't bring myself to go on up the hill toward the shelter like I had originally planned. It was like I was trespassing in a place that was off-limits to the living. Though the hair on the back of my neck was standing up, I wasn't really afraid. I just knew that something was not right.
I felt that something had taken place there, something besides making corn whiskey. On that particular piece of land, there are many remnants of old still sites, as there are all over the Dark Corner. That's not unusual for that area.
Perhaps someone like myself had once wandered up there and didn't make it off of that mountain. Or it could've been some sacred spot for the Cherokee that at one time inhabited the area. Possibly there was some tragedy that took place on that mountain, many years ago. Whatever it was, I felt that something was letting me know that it would be best left in the past.
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