…And now we take a break for a true story.
While backpacking part of the Appalachian Trail in Amherst/Nelson County, Virginia with my husband and some American Heritage Girls “Pioneers/Patriots,” (scouts) I saw something unusual.
It had been raining the previous night and most of that day, and a thick, foggy mist had settled down in the hollow where we’d made camp. The rain had let up just long enough to trick us into hiking up to a big rock outcrop we had passed the day before. About halfway there, it started pouring. The rain made a lot of noise and caused the leaves to wiggle a tiny bit, but there was no wind. So, when I saw some thick undergrowth (large ferns, mostly) sway wildly, I thought someone had gone off the trail. I quickly turned my head to make sure the four girls were still ahead of me. They were.
As I swung my head back around, I caught a quick glimpse of whatever was making the ruckus at my 2 o’clock and about 20 yards away. It was loping unhurriedly away from the trail in the lush undergrowth. Its skin was of a light olive complexion, and it stood a little over five feet tall. I could only see from the tips of its ears to just below the neck. The ears were a lot like a donkey’s, but smaller, and the face was human and seemed male. It walked with a strange gait and seemed to be walking on two legs (I can’t be sure, as the ferns and such were in the way). The ears were covered in fine, seemingly soft, grayish-blond hair, and the hair on the head was light brown. The creature had natural sideburns that came to the joint in its jaw, but the rest of the facial hair was like the “peach fuzz” of a boy who has just hit puberty. In front of the creature’s ears, poking through its hair were two little stubby horns. Its full head of hair was acorn brown and curly…a lot like “Sam Gamgee” in The Lord of the Rings movies.
The nose was of medium size and Romanesque in shape. The eyelashes were thick and dark, but I wasn’t able to catch the eye color. It’s expression wasn’t sad or angry, but it wasn’t joyful either; pleasant but distracted is as close as I can get to describing it.
I didn’t get a sense of dread or fear from seeing the creature, though the experience was odd. It was more as if I’d come upon a deer or other woodland creature which was shy of humans. I watched the creature until it disappeared into the mist. Does this thing still hide in the dark hollows of the Appalachians, or did it appear from a different dimension? I’ll probably never know.