We recently had the pleasure of experiencing one of the world’s most spectacular places – Ash Cave at Hocking Hills State Park in Ohio – at night. It was truly one of the spookiest experiences I have ever had. Did I see a ghost? No, but I believe I heard one. Did my friend Kelley speak with the dead Native American Chieftains buried there? Maybe, the dowsing rods were a little confusing. Did we get to play with a Geiger counter? Fuck yeah. Did we generally freak ourselves out? You betcha.
We met the park’s naturalist, Pat Quackenbush, at the entrance at sunset. He set the scene for us with a couple of ghost stories from the area. And then we were lead down the trail that leads to the cave…in the near absolute dark…with no lights…as Pat continued with the ghost stories sprinkled with facts about the area. I stayed in the back of the line of people with Kelley as we walked along. We had both read the story in Pat and his wife Jannette’s book, Haunted Hocking, of a woman in white who is rumored to peek out from the trees lining the path, scaring the crap out of stragglers. So Kelley was intentionally straggling, and I was just stupidly along for the ride.
Once we got to the actual cave, the fun really started. Pat was nice enough to bring hardcore ghost hunting equipment and was brave enough to unleash us with it. We split up the dowsing rods, digital thermometer, EMF detectors, recorders, Geiger counter, etc. and set out to find some ghosts. Kelley and I used the dowsing rods to communicate with whatever may be there. It was inconclusive at best.
The darkness had somehow gotten darker while we were gallivanting about with the ghost hunting toys, so the way back to our cars was nerve-wracking. At one point, I believe I saw a white figure in the trees along the path. It was squat and most likely a tree stump of some sort, but my imagination was all hopped up on goofballs at this point. But then I heard the footsteps.
Listen, I’m totally a ghost believer inner. I have no real evidence for this belief other than that I want it to be true and it sounds plausible. So I’m susceptible to this stuff and maybe that’s what was going on….but as we’re standing a few feet from the entrance, listening to another story from Pat, I heard what sounded like shoes scuffing along the pavement behind me, as if someone was running up to me. There was no one behind me at the time. You may feel free to laugh at me.
Big thanks to Pat Quackenbush for taking us out into the dark wilderness for some ghost hunting and for the entertaining storytelling. I highly recommend that if you find yourself in Central Ohio, check out HauntedHocking.com for tours and stories to scare you shitless. And buy the book! It’s a fun read. Take it with you on your next camping trip.