Thursday, July 19, 2018

Screams on the Mountain


An anonymous listener (she asked Dave Schrader to not say her name) shared a bizarre story:

“In 1975, a ski resort opened about an hour from the Twin Cities next to the St. Croix River. It was not huge and it sat in a sparsely populated area in Minnesota. It was new and it was in an age when there was no cellphones or Ipods. All the kids in the school wanted to go there. I joined our school ski club and we went every Thursday. Often enough that I got to know the owner and would talk to him about skiing and sometimes ski with him. In 1977 I joined the navy and went away. Whenever I got leave and came home, it was winter time. I would go to the resort and ski. Each time I would renew my friendship with the owner and join him on the trails to ski until closing time.

One winter I came home and as usual decided to go to the resort. This was a Wednesday. My sister, niece and one of her friends asked to come with me so we made a night of it. When we arrived at the resort I found myself behind the rental counter. We talked for awhile then I made my way to the slopes. The owner was off the skis because of a neck injury so I was skiing alone. It was an off night with hardly anyone at the resort. There were no schools or classes scheduled for that night. It was about 10 degrees with light snow and a slight wind. I thought I would get bored with the skiing but it was fun and time passed quickly. It was the last trip down before I knew it and what I thought was the end of a good day. I returned to the chalet and searched for everyone who needed a ride home with me but they were all missing. I eventually found my sister in the chalet bar and asked her if she had seen our niece and her friend. She said she saw them once standing next to a cross country trail entrance on a run called Moonshine. This was bad. If they had gone down the run, the girls would be somewhere in the dark woods surrounding the mountain.

I hurried to the front desk, my sister in tow and told the owner I had to go back up the mountain. My sister asked me to wait for her but I was impatient and skied to the chairlift before she ever got out of the chalet. Now the mountain didn't seem so fun. It was a cold, barren place with a touch of danger. The resort that seemed so familiar to me was changing unpleasantly. The lift operators had been warned of my coming and were ready to let me on. They may not have known my name but we had talked casually through the night each time I used the lift. They too seemed worried. They let me know the ski patrol would be beginning their last check of the runs in a few minutes. As I let the chair catch me behind the legs and lift me into the air, I waved to them and held on to the chair support. There were no people ahead of me in the chairs and I never saw my sister reach the lift before I got too far away to see the base of the hill in the falling snow. A movie about a Bigfoot attacking a ski resort (1977 TV Movie “Snow Beast”) played in my mind when I rode up the trails, a stupid movie so fake it should not have bothered me but I rose up the mountain and I grew frightened, half expecting a Bigfoot to reach up out of the woods and snatch me off the lift.

The bald top of the mountain came into view and by the time I skied off the lift at the top, I was both worried and paranoid. I felt like I was being watched and that to fall or make noise would be a fatal mistake. I poled across the top of the mountain to the entrance of the trail Moonshine. I was completely alone. I looked into the dark entrance of the trail and saw a reflection, a light from further down past a corner. Making as little noise as possible, I skied to the first corner and followed the turn, taking care not to fall. The next corner had a single light on a pole, casting dark shadows at the entrance to the two trails I had come to check. One of the trails was three miles long. The other was 5 miles long. With the fresh snow, I thought if anyone had taken the trails, I could see their tracks and alert the ski patrol to where they were possibly lost in the woods. To say I was frightened was an understatement. I was terrified yet I had no reason to feel like I was being watched or threatened. I had experienced danger in the service but this was nothing like that, it was visceral.

I came to a stop at the lone light and looked at the dark trail entrance. The one to the west had no tracks leading to it. I poled to the next entrance and looked down at the snow. Two sets of tracks crossed the manila rope used to block the entrance of the 5 mile long trail. The tracks were covered with about a quarter inch of fresh snow. Whoever had made these had crossed the rope within the last hour or two. I stared into the darkness and tried to decide what I had to do but I already knew the answer – I had to go after them. Even if they chose not to go down the cross country trail, the only way off that trail once you pass the ropes was an expert run that was a chute dropping rapidly to rejoin Moonshine about 200 yards from where I stood. The name of that short trail – The Devil's Run.

I looked back at the trail hoping for a ski patrol person to wave down but I was alone. I started to enter the run but just couldn't seem to cross the rope. I know it was fear that stopped me but I had no obvious reason to fear. I was an expert skier. I knew the trails. So gritting my teeth, I worked my way on to the trail but could not get myself to go into the dark. I turned away and felt shame as the fear grew more intense and made me stop in my tracks. Looking around once more, I confirmed I was still alone. Then almost as if a casual act, I twisted and then shouted my niece's name into the darkness. Immediately two children's voices came from the woods. They screamed in terror, one of them shouting that it was killing them. As the screaming continued I stood there in shock, unable to breath or move. As quickly as they had come, the screams stopped but I thought I could hear whimpering just over the sound of the trees rustling in the wind. I must have shouted incoherently and moved before my mind began to fully function. I realized I was turned and facing the woods, pointing forward before my mind once again screamed for me to stop. There was something wrong with this situation but I was at a loss for understanding any of it. I just knew I was going into the dark and I would be alone to face whatever was happening to those children. Regretfully, forlornly, I looked back up the trail and with relief, saw a ski patrol coming my way. The whimpering stopped.

When he came to a stop next to me, I rapidly told him what was happening but he had an odd look on his face. It seemed like he thought I was lying to him so I told him I was going down the trail. Anger had defeated the fear that held me before I could go. He stopped me and entered the trail, telling me we would meet at the exit a few hundred yards away. I turned and started to ski but within seconds the man went out of the trail exit without stopping. I worked hard to catch up to him and finally caught him at the base of the mountain near the chair lift. I grabbed his arm and stopped the ski patrol, demanding to know what had happened. He said, 'Nothing was in the woods, just go home!' We argued for a few minutes, me saying there were children up there. Him telling me to just go home. Finally I pulled up the chairlift to get on for a ride back up the mountain. The ski patrol yelled at the lift operator to shut it down. The argument got worse and there was almost a fight when I saw my sister coming down the Moonshine with another member of the patrol. I poled to her but before I could say anything she said they had heard children crying. The ski patrol with her had made my sister come down the mountain without entering the woods. The argument continued at the chairlift for a few more minutes before I realized I could get my friend to let me back up the mountain.

I hurried to the chalet where my niece and her friend were waiting. I charged in to find the owner. He was at the front desk and I quickly told him what happened. My sister joined me as I spoke, confirming the screams of the children. His reaction as I talked was odd, as if he'd heard this before. When I asked to be let back up the hill, he told me, no, that it was not something to concern myself over and to think of it as just 'ghosts'. By now, most of the members of the ski patrol were standing behind us. I suspected they were there to keep me from going back up that hill when they moved in front of the door. We all took our ski boots off and I took our sister, niece and her friend to the car. I did not look back to see if anyone was watching us depart. I was quiet. None of this made sense. My favorite place to ski was tainted and I was determined to come back and look down that trail.

The drive to Stacy (Minnesota) where I dropped off my niece was silent. My sister and I had nothing to say and my niece thought we were mad at her. I did have enough voice to tell her something had happened and I did not want to talk about it. Once they were out of the car, I took the back road to Wyoming. I headed home down a road with few houses. A mile out of Wyoming, I began to feel the fear again only this time it was worse. I looked in the rear view mirror and I saw nothing, no lights of the farm we passed, just an impenetrable darkness. The side view mirrors were the same. As the fear grew, my foot lightened on the accelerator and the car slowed. I could feel the hair on my head pushing against my hat and with amazement I realized that tears were flowing down my cheeks. I looked at my sister and I realized she was crying too. When I looked to the rear view mirror again, without knowing why I did it but I knocked the mirror askew with my right hand. I asked her to look behind the car and tell me what she saw. Slowly she turned and gasped then spun forward and sunk in the seat. She managed to tell me to keep driving. The car had slowed to ten miles an hour. I sped up and tried my best to drive under these circumstances.

After about a half mile, as we passed a farmhouse, the feeling went away as if a person had just switched off a light. We drove the rest of the way home without incident. I asked what she saw and my sister said she saw death was behind us and refused to ever talk about it again. A few days later I returned to the ship. A few years later I was involved in an explosion that took away any skiing for the rest of my life. I never went back to that resort. I never saw the owner again. A few years ago someone finally persuaded me to tell my story and when it was done, he said he was going skiing at that resort in a few days and would ask about ghosts. When he returned he said that there are more people that experienced the same thing we faced that night.

Occasionally I go ghost hunting but I will never go to the resort for personal reasons. I finally asked my sister a year ago what she saw that night. I thought the distance of time would lessen the impact of the event but she is still haunted by it. She told me something huge was sitting in the rear seat. She said it was a huge black shadow with red eyes. I'm left with the same question each time I think about that trip. Who were the children in the woods? (I looked for old murder reports but never found any.) What was killing them? What was in the car that night? My sister felt we would have just disappeared if that thing had wanted us to. Until I die, I will not forget those screams.”

Source: Beyond The Darkness – July 14, 2018

Beyond Creepy


Weird Minnesota: Your Travel Guide to Minnesota's Local Legends and Best Kept Secrets

Minnesota Hauntings: Ghost Stories from the Land of 10,000 Lakes

The Nearly Departed: Minnesota Ghost Stories and Legends

Haunted Minnesota: Ghosts and Strange Phenomena of the North Star State (Haunted Series)

Ghost Stories of Minnesota

Lon's Suggested Reading List - Books & Films / DVDs

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