Friday, June 13, 2008

Would You Know A Ghost If You Saw One?

We leave for the Smoky Mountains in less than two weeks. I always look forward to making the trip. The rewards are wonderful. But today I'm thinking about the first visit I ever made. 

Hubby has been going to the mountains ever year since he was born. For the longest time they went to the same place, a campground just inside of the park, called Smokemont. My first tagging along on this trip took place when I knew Hubby almost a year, 1992. He was so excited to take me camping. Now you guys got to realize my idea of nature back then was walking around the block of my urban neighborhood, but I went. And it rained. It always rains at this campground when it's not raining three miles down the road. 

On the fourth night of our seven night stay, the stars were out and the temps were cold. Hubby and I stayed up past all the family, eight more members, had gone to bed. Remember we were still young and romantic. We just needed time to stare into each other's eyes and be in love. He He. That night we just sat in front of the fire until it turned two in the morning. No one in the campground was stirring. I was so tired from all the hiking I couldn't move from my chair. Hubby was awake watching the fire. 

I looked up and saw a figure moving toward us from the little road. Now, this is a National Park with no electricity except in the bathroom. A bathroom stood several campsites over from us, but its outside light could be seen. It did not light our campsite. The figure came closer. I looked at Hubby, who looked back at me. On its path, the figure would walk right through the middle of the campsite instead of down the path that took you to the bathroom. I remember thinking of all the nerve. The figure did not carry a flashlight or lantern. As it came into the campsite I saw it was a woman. Her hair was piled on her head in a ball with lots of little wisps curling around her face and down her neck. She had no shoes. I noticed this first because the direction she had come took her over gravel and through some tangled brush. She looked to be in her early thirties of spanish decent. She wore an old fashion slip that hung to the ground. Not what one would wear to sleep in while camping. The slip was edged with what looked to be handmade lace. I know my antique clothes and this looked like a slip from the mid to late eighteen hundreds. I couldn't take my eyes off of her. 

She walked in the middle of our campsite, right past the big fire, stood, looked at me, but more like through me. Around her neck was a tiny cold chain. The expression on her face made me think she had to be sleepwalking because she wasn't there with me and Hubby. She turned away and continuing walked toward the bathroom. 

This particular bathroom had a door that screeched so loud when it was open it woke me in the night. 

I looked at Hubby. "She was weird."

"What was her deal? She gave me the creeps." 

I kept waiting for her to open the bathroom door, but never did I hear the sound or see her walking away. 

A few minutes later I looked at Hubby. "She never went to the bathroom. The door didn't squeak." 

He shrugged. 

"Let's go in the tent." And we did. 

The next morning I still couldn't get the woman off my mind. I decided to walk in the same direction as she had come. If she were real, she had to cross a rushing river and walk through heavy woods, not to mention the afore mentioned gravel and tangle of brush. 

Who was this woman? I did some research when I got home and found that two cemeteries were on the Smokemont property. A logging camp had settled there in the late 1800s before the land became part of the park.

I told my future mother in-law at the time and she only smiled and said, "Child you've seen what my granny would have called a haint." 

I've been back to Smokemont countless times. The woman has never showed up again. I have not camped in the campsite either. I refuse to test fate, and mostly I go to bed around ten. 

But the woman is always remembered. The kids and adults alike ask to hear the story each time we stay, always in front of the campfire. 

Would you know a ghost if she came walking up to you? 



Ruth D~ said...

Eerie! Truly a scene to be remembered and wondered about for years. Still . . . could she have been a real woman, lost, confused . . .?

Ann Hite said...

Who knows? Something was very different about this woman. Normally my husband would have spoke to her, ask her questions. He's all about helping people. He told me it felt like a weird dream. I can't rule out her being real, but you know the Black Mountain part of me so enjoys the ghost story part :).