A New Ghost Story

It’s almost Halloween and that means it’s time for my annual pilgrimage to Greenwood Cemetery where I pay my respects to many of the founders of Decatur. Every year is a different experience. I’ve had very pleasant experiences enjoying the beauty of the rolling hills and trees and I’ve had years where I was practically hyperventilating before exiting my car and had to leave. I don’t know how I’ll feel this year but I’ll soon find out.

Decatur certainly has its ghost stories, like I assume every town does but I never truly had my own experience that left me so astounded as I did a few weeks ago in Garman Park.

I regularly visit Garman Park since it’s near my home and I’m often there testing out the GPS accuracy of various smartwatches and fitness trackers. It’s a hobby of mine that I enjoy and the money is helping pay off my student loans. 🙂

It was a pleasant day and I had been recording a video for about an hour. I took some awesome photos of mushrooms and other interesting organisms on the forest floor as I hiked along. It was a wonderful experience, especially since it was a rare day off from work since I had worked the weekend shift.

As I was wrapping things up I stood reviewing the video on the trail not far from the trail’s entrance to make sure it turned out okay.

I then looked up and saw someone entering the forest and as we both noticed each other I quickly looked down at my phone and turned off the recording because I thought they might think I was weird for standing in a forest listening to myself talk on a video. It’s always awkward to be out recording video of yourself when people are around.

Out of the corner of my eye I could see that the person was still walking towards me and I was fully expecting to look up from my phone, after the few seconds it took me to turn off the recording, and see them walk past.

I looked back up and they were gone. The person had been within less than 20 feet of me and they were suddenly gone. Poof! Gone!

I began walking down the trail towards the direction they had been but didn’t see him or her. The person just totally disappeared. I heard footsteps off to the left of me walking through the leaves but nobody was there.

Then I thought, maybe they took the other trail because at the entrance there are two trails that form a Y and so I got up to the other trail and looked but there was no sign of anybody. It would have been impossible for whoever it was to walk or run so fast down the other trail that I wouldn’t have caught a glimpse of them.

Plus, the sound of footsteps had gone in the opposite direction but the opposite direction presented a very steep ravine. Hence, the naming of Ravina Park Road and the Ravina Park neighborhood where Garman Park is located. There are some mighty steep ravines in them woods. If anyone had tried to walk in the direction heard footsteps they probably would have been going head over heels for about 150 feet until they plunged into the creek below.

I need to stress that all of this had happened in a very short period of time – probably over a 30-45 second time period. There wasn’t enough time for the person to hide or get far enough away from me that I wouldn’t see them.

I quickly exited the woods after I realized I couldn’t see a trace of the person. I stood out in the open field near the trailhead looking back at the trail’s entrance, trying to make sense of what had just happened.

I was absolutely stunned, shocked, and energized by what I had just experienced.

I know that I saw a person walk towards me. I saw the clothes that they were wearing, a light blue shirt that reminded me very much of a shirt my mom often wore. She died in 2004. While I didn’t think anything of it when I had first saw the person, I noticed that their face had been illuminated with a bright light.

My thought was that it was just bright sunlight hitting their face but then I realized, there’s very little direct sunlight in those dark woods. More compelling than that was I hadn’t been able to make out any distinct facial features because of the glow.

We both stood for a second looking directly at each other and both clearly noticed each other because we paused at first sight.

My thought after I exited those woods was that I had just seen an angel and just for the record I don’t normally believe that I see angels all over the place. The only other time when I believe that I had a conversation with an angel was when I was about 5 years old.

I was given a message and told that I wouldn’t see the angel for a long time but I would see him again. The message and the experience wasn’t something a 5 year-old could conjure up in their mind – even if the 5 year-old was me.

Anyway, as I walked to my car after the experience in the park I was still overcome with wonder and amazement of what I had seen. It’s hard to put into words. There was no doubt about what I had just seen but I couldn’t explain it and still can’t.

I quickly posted on Facebook that day about my experience because it was so much better than my usual sharing of photos of my cat and memes I find funny.

I didn’t think anyone would believe me but they did. I soon learned others have had similar experiences though were very rare occurrences.

I recalled that my mom always told me that when it comes to picking mushrooms, “Red is dead.” A photo of a mushroom from that day.

I joked that maybe the angel had been sent to get me out of those woods for my safety. Walnuts were falling from the trees and a small limb fell not far from me when I was recording. I was planning to go back and re-record the video I had been reviewing because I wasn’t happy with the results. Maybe I would have been conked on the head by a walnut or maybe something worse was about to happen to me.

Whatever the case, I had no intention of going back into those woods for quite some time because if it had been a ghost, I didn’t want to see it again, and if it had been an angel with a message from above, I was going to heed it.

About a month after this experience, I got brave enough to go back into the woods figuring the danger had passed and was recording another video but I stayed close to the open field while walking in the woods …just in case.

I felt good and the video was going well for a change. I heard a man and a woman enter the trail a good distance from me but I increased the distance so I could continue narrating the video. I continued hearing them talk loudly in the distance for a few minutes. Then suddenly, after about 5 minutes or so I heard a single gunshot and yes I have it on video, complete with my reaction.

I thought, “Seriously! You’ve got to be kidding me.”

The gunshot sounded like a 38 special revolver at close range. I know the sound well because I have the same gun. I hightailed it out of there as quickly as I could which wasn’t easy with the thick bush honeysuckle choking out the forest floor. Those gnarly invasive species with their sinister looking branches are impossible to get through so I had to continue on the trail for a while until I found an opening.

Maybe the bullet would have hit me if I hadn’t been too afraid to go farther in the woods. I don’t know but after seeing a ghost/angel and hearing a gun go off at close range, I’m not going back for a long time.

I can’t say for certain what I saw or why but I sensed nothing negative about the “ghost”.

I think the message I got from all of this is that I don’t think we need to fear ghosts in Garman Park but I’m not so convinced we shouldn’t fear the living, or falling walnuts.

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