Happy Halloween, Fallsers! And beware dark paths where perhaps the ghosts of long-gone inhabitants remain, ever-watchful. One jogger’s tale of an eerie encounter before sunrise.
As told to EFL….
As an off-road runner, part of the fun is feeling off-grid — the less traveled the trail, the better. Once I find a loop I like, I’ll return again and again, enjoying my own private familiarity with an untouched corner of the Wissahickon.
I won’t say where my trail is, only that it’s near Rittenhouse Town with an excellent view of Lincoln Drive. As a seasoned city girl, I never run without my wristband that fires police-grade mace like Spiderman — and I always, always, always keep my eyes out for other humans or animals. I take being alert to danger very seriously, as I run alone in the wee hours of morning.
In my 2+ years of running this path, I’d imagined many “What would I do if..?” scenarios but never thought to add “ghostly encounter” to the list.
Although this part of the Wissahickon was rich in history, with colonial settlements, military encampments, and a big Native American presence — to me, it was just a forest. And not even an especially creepy one, either.
Except for this particular Fall morning. I was enjoying a thoroughly uneventful jog when yuck, I felt the wispy strings of spider web as I ran thru it. I did my usual dance to shake the spider off but then realized there was no web on me, after all. Huh, sure felt like I’d run into something…
About 50 yards later, I felt spider-webby tickles against my arms & neck at the same time my eye caught movement ahead of me. I froze. I watched. I listened. Nothing. A mist clung to the trees here, maybe that’s messing with my eyes?
The spider-webby feeling turned into full-on chills, with the hair all over my body standing straight up as I peered into the murky woods at sunrise. Nothing. Shouldn’t birds be singing? Weird…
I jogged cautiously ahead maybe 25 yards, and dammit — there it was again: something moved, I definitely caught it. More standing, waiting, holding my breath. What is up with this mist, hanging so low? I walked a few feet forward…
I wouldn’t say the energy stopped me, but the “pins and needles” feeling on my skin kicked up a notch, a little uncomfortably. I stood where I was, wondering what was going on. Suddenly, there he was.
I saw a man with long dark hair, shirtless, from the waist up. I assumed right away he was Native American, but I really can’t say why because I couldn’t see his clothes or any identifying features.
He stood partially-obscured in the woods off the path ahead of me (no more than 15 yards away), and I could immediately recognize he was not flesh & blood. He was like a glowing, translucent image vibrating with visible electricity. He was looking right at me.
Then he was maybe 10 feet closer, standing almost in the path this time so I could see that the bottom of his body was invisible. His expression never changed, it said “I see you” without any menace or friendliness or emotion I could sense at all.
I wasn’t scared yet but I was thinking that if he appeared any closer I would probably pass out right where I was. After about 5 full seconds, his image seemed to collapse into itself towards the ground. Maybe I imagined this but to me, I saw his body fade first around his face, and then his eyes were the very last to disappear. Again, it’s like a message: I see you.
Then it was like SNAP! The trail was back to normal. The mist lifted, birds picked up singing, I finished my run spider web-free. By the time I got home, I’d almost forgotten about my encounter — in truth, I did brush it off, until recently when a friend related his own Wissahickon experience that seems to corroborate mine.
I don’t believe in ghosts, but I know I saw something “otherworldly” that day. This trail is still one of my favorites. I have never seen anything like that again (but of course I keep my eyes out). — C. Sullivan (East Falls, 2016)
Scratching sounds on your bed posts? Portal to Hell in your best friend’s linen closet? Sasquatch or alien sightings nearby? WE CAN’T HELP — but we’re all ears anyway!
East Falls Local seeks spine-chilling stories of all kinds for sharing & scaring this Halloween season. Email us or call 215-498-8874 to set up an interview or an enthusiastic (but completely bogus) paranormal investigation.