Strange Lights

skiMy book Demon’s Treasure will be out in a few days. In it,  a couple of characters beginning talking about strange sea mysteries such as ghost ships (like the Flying Dutchman), the Bermuda Triangle, and (one of my new favorites) the Bloop. (Gotta read the book to hear about that one!)

Anyway, it all got me thinking about something strange that happened to me several years ago.

I used to guide cross-country skiers on overnight wilderness treks. The trail was two and a half miles long–all uphill–and ended at a huge, two-story lodge. The lodge was about a half-mile away from a 400-foot cliff called the Overlook, that looked down upon our parking area.

One night a group of Boy Scouts arrived to ski, but by the time we had them outfitted and ready to head uphill, the second group we were expecting still hadn’t shown up. We decided to send the kids in anyway, with all of our guides but two. My friend Art and I stayed behind to lead in the second group when they arrived.

It was about ten-thirty at night when everyone skied off, and Art and I settled into the cab of our truck to wait. It was a nice night, cold and overcast, just right for skiing. Art and I passed the time talking, and after a while happened to glance up toward the Overlook. There, on top of the cliff, we could see lights, as if skiers with headlights had gone to the edge to look over the country.

Art and I exchanged glances, both of us realizing our guys hadn’t had been gone long enough to have reached the lodge, let along travel the extra half mile to the Overlook. We had radios, so we called up to our guides who said they were still half a mile or so from reaching the lodge.

“Is anyone else up there?” we asked. “You see any tracks?”

“Huh-uh. We’re pushing new snow. No one’s been up here.”

Well, we thought that was pretty creepy, but could only imagine someone had to be up there.

The lights eventually disappeared back into the trees. Our second group of Scouts never did show up. so around midnight Art and I skied in alone. Once we reached the lodge, the guys wanted to know why we were asking about tracks. When we told them, they exchanged wary glances, then told us a story of their own.

The ski trail follows a winding stream, and about halfway to the lodge reaches a dam. The trail zigs and zags up the hill, crosses over the dam, then heads back into the trees and up another mile to the lodge. It had snowed during the week, and the guys were pushing about 16 inches of new, unbroken snow as they skied. As they neared the halfway point, they turned a corner in the trail to where they could see the dam. And up on top was a light, as if someone was standing there wearing a headlight. As our guys came into view, the light turned as if someone was turning their head to look down at our guys.

The guides figured the same thing Art and I did, that someone else was simply on the mountain. They lost sight of the light as they started up the hill, but once they reached the top . . . nothing. No one there. And no tracks, either. No sign that anyone–or anything–had been there.

Well, that kinda freaked everyone out.

The next morning we skied to the Overlook, expecting to find the tracks of whomever had been there the night before. But (yeah, you guessed it) no tracks there, either. No sign at all that anyone had been there.

The experience gave us something to talk about around the fireplace. We never could come up with a good explanation, or even a reasonable theory. But when writing about the Bloop I thought back to that night. And imagined skiing around in the dark, knowing someone–or something–might have been out there . . . watching me.

 

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