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Woods Walk

Ron Ridley
October 2023

There are scant few moments in life when one has no rational explanation for events that occur which could be deemed unordinary. Even fewer when multiple people share an unexplained and strange experience. This is an account of an incident where two friends and I experienced such an occurrence. One which has been the topic of discussion regularly ever since.

As you can already imagine living in a rural area has its downfalls, such as there always being a lack of things to do on a Friday night. It was mid to late summer a year or so before we all got interested in doing paranormal investigations in my old house. On this Friday night in question my friends Jon and Trevor came over to find something fun to do. After they helped me with chores we sat in my basement and pondered on what activity to partake in for the evening. There wasn’t anything good on television so we came up with the brilliant idea to take a walk in the woods. Now this isn’t an activity we had never explored, although it was typically during the day and usually to clear out the trails for our four wheelers or to have airsoft wars. To make it even better we decided to walk the third of a mile across dark fields to get there rather than drive. None of us brought a flashlight aside from a janky old shake light and our cell phone screens since the crescent moon in the sky was bright enough to light the way.

Once we reached the tree line we found the two track trail which follows it back to my uncles hunting cabin. I say cabin but it’s just an old trailer house they painted camo and converted into a bunk house. There was never any electricity run to the cabin since it wasn’t necessary for a bunch of men who want to get away from it all during hunting season. As we approached Trevor shared an idea to grab an old gas lantern out of the cabin. He said it would be cool to take a woods walk like the hunters and trappers of the old days. We agreed and entered the cabin to retrieve the item in question. After just a moment of searching and 10 minutes waiting for them to stop browsing through my uncle’s stash of playboys we grabbed the lantern and continued to the into the woods.

The two track split into two directions from the hunting camp. One trail lead east and the other south. We decided to take the southern path since it went directly into the woods rather than just around the perimeter as the eastern trail did. At this point my father still didn’t have the area logged of all the dead ash and elm yet so the woods were thick and dense. So much so that one really couldn’t see far into the tree line. That being said with the thick canopy of the trees there wasn’t much sunlight that hit the ground so there wasn’t much in the line of undergrowth. You could only see about 25 yards in during the day, in the night that distance was much smaller. It was an extremely calm night so we could hear everything. It was the kind of still night that makes deer and other small animals hunker down to avoid detection from predators. We heard nothing but the slightest sound of rustling leaves and our own footsteps as we worked our way into the darkness of the woods. A darkness made darker by the lack of moonlight allowed to penetrate the thick canopy.

We strode along swapping the lantern between the three of us since it was old and somewhat heavy. The weak flickering lamplight casting shadows behind the trees. We talked and made plans to cut some more trails for our A.T.V.s. We talked about girls and about cars. (You know, hard core guy stuff.) At this point none of us were unnerved nor frightened. We had been in this woods countless times and we knew that nothing was in there aside from maybe a sleeping deer or squirrel. As we neared the other side of the woods the trail forks off once more. Directly to the south was a field we called the low land. It was once swamp land many years ago and was filled with Michigan peat, which is basically very dark mineral rich soil which looks like potting soil minus the white clumps of fertilizer. We decided to head east on a narrower winding trail that lead deeper into the woods then out into a clearing and pond. This trail was not in as good of shape as the one we were turning off of so we slowed our pace to avoid mud puddles and ankle twisting ruts. This is where things started getting strange. About 30 paces up the trail we stopped. Jon asked if we could hear the same noise he that was hearing. We stayed still and quiet for a moment. Our ears taking in the strange sound. The noise in question sounded far off and gradually grew louder. After a moment we all agreed that is was the sound of drums.

This sound brought a memory back to me at that moment. Many years prior to this we were having a small bonfire behind our old house. My grandfather, brother, and I all sat around the fire roasting marshmallows and talking about our day. My grandfather sang some old songs to us and told us stories. Once the fire died down some he looked at us and asked if we wanted to hear a scary story. We leaned in and both said yes. Now to clarify my grandfather had a tendency to play tricks on us from time to time, however normally he was a very serious and strait forward man so we could tell in his eyes as he spoke that this wasn’t a joke at all. This story, he said, was about the Native American tribe from the local area.

The Thumb was a gathering place for many tribes in the summer because of the large quantities of food and game. It was where tribes would trade goods and crops as well as being the site of the “sacred stone”. Which is now known as the Sanilac petroglyphs. As more white settlers moved into the territory they began to push out the tribes. Most being forced to take shelter in the uninhabitable swamps that are spread throughout the area. The tribes being infuriated by the white man’s greed decided to begin assembling war parties to remove them from their land. With what was left of the warriors who didn’t flee they took up arms against the white men for a last stand of sorts. Being short on men and supplies they decided to strike at night when they knew the settlers would be at their most venerable. They began playing their drums to signify the start of the attack. The low beat rumbling from the distance woke the settlers and they took to their arms as well. This night was not in the natives’ favor and the war parities were wiped out within hours. As he concluded his story my grandfather looked at us both and finished with this. “On quiet summer nights you can sometimes still hear the drums of the tribes who were slaughtered coming from deep within the swamps. They start quietly and grow louder almost as if they are coming ever closer.”

As a child this story wasn’t something I believed but as I stood beside my two friends with what was once a swamp to our backs and the growing sound of drums surrounding us I understood my grandfather was not lying. After a few more moments of standing totally quiet and still we decided to continue moving forward. Not a sound came from any of us just blank stares and shallow breathing. As we walked we began looking into the trees because we all saw what looked like red dots of light far off into the woods. They were reminiscent of the dots laser pointers make but there were hundreds of them all around us. We all began to become unnerved and bunched together to feel safe. That’s when we heard the sound of breaking twigs and hooves smacking dirt. We all stopped dead when something jumped from the woods to our left. It was quite honestly one of the most unexplainable things any of us had ever seen. What jumped onto the trail just yards ahead of us and back into the woods on the other side was a bright blue glowing light. It was shaped crudely like a deer. (Think Harry Potter’s patronus and you have a relative idea of what we saw.) As it went bounding away the first words in a while were spoken. “Did you guys see that?” I asked. Jon and Trevor both nodded, and Trevor asked if we could see the red dots in the trees. We both said yes.

At this point we decided that this was not a place we wanted to stay and ran out of the woods into the clearing near the pond. The sound of drums faded into the still night once we were clear of the tree line. As we gathered ourselves we decided to head up to the house. We all had enough excitement for one night. We were so frightened we didn’t even stop at the cabin to put the lantern back but simply made a beeline for home never looking back. When we got back to my house I told them my grandfather’s story. We all decided it was best not to take a night time woods walk ever again.

Ron Ridley
00:00 / 01:04
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