I want to begin by saying a big thank you to “Appalachian Unknown 2019” for taking the time to grant a wish I’ve had for a very long time. They say you never forget your first time; the truth of those words are self-evident.
I began corresponding with Brent Heird (founder of AU-19) and Spencer Cantrell a few months before our investigation, and after learning their motto (More to These Mountains Than Moonshine) I knew these were the folks I had been looking for.
As if having AU-19 on scene, wasn’t enough, I was luckier still to have Emily Menshouse of “Error404Paranormal”, and Chelsea Ryan of “Black Fox Paranormal” join AU-19 in the spirit of collaboration in the hope that it would provide the answers Id been seeking. Both brought their own unique talents to bear on the study, and those talents were applied with enthusiasm.
Within minutes of the “scene survey”, Emily called out “Something hit me on the leg”! An unknown, seemingly thrown object, from an even more unknown origin. Then began the “spirit-box” sessions. I was only vaguely familiar with this technique, and even less with another technique used; which was referred to as “The Estes Method”.
The plan had been to stay completely neutral and only observe, but taken with the moment I began snapping random pics as Chelsea was conducting her session with the Estes Method. Out of a series of 15-20 shots, there were a couple that turned up with “anomalies”. I offer no opinion, but will say there was no fog, no one was smoking, and it could not be a smudge on the lens because no such artifact appeared before or after in the series:
Having no experience with a real, live, “boots on the ground”, investigation (and also having a personal philosophy of “no trafficking with spirits”) all of this was a bit overwhelming. Thankfully, Brent of AU-19, was very helpful with the mental digestion of this new and exciting information.
Not wanting to be a hindrance, I stayed behind as the company made their way to the our family cemetery. Many who have been laid to rest here would attest to the “resident phenomena’ ’in their own time. Besides, the cemetery was a no-go for me; too much emotional attachment to those that lay there. However, I felt the cemetery residence would appreciate this “search for answers” to questions they had in life; and I’m sure they would welcome the visit just the same.
Upon the group’s return, I took the opportunity to get to know my guest a bit more. While speaking with Brent, he talked of AU-19’s purpose, “We mainly explore wooded areas, mountain sides, and forgotten cemeteries in following local folklore and old wive’s tales. We don’t search for cryptids, but we do run across them from time to time. Appalachia is old as time itself. These sacred lands hold on to their secrets. Some they don’t want told”.
His last statement resonating with truth, as this has been my experience as well. It has always been a rough and rugged land, and it takes a special spirit to call it home. The longer you stay, the more it becomes clear that there is “something more” in these mountains. You don’t just live on the land, the land lives through you.
By all accounts, the team members agreed that it was a productive night. Brent said, “Something was out there speaking, but there were no clear words (in English)for me to capture, but there was a low murmur. That could be what you are referencing. Nature spirits may have a language all their own. “
The “nature spirits” Brent was referring to came from a previous conversation; which discussed a wide range of phenomena that had occurred in the area over the years. I stated my belief that there are other things on the land (woodland-spirits or the like) besides what can traditionally be considered “ghosts”.
Brent continued, “One thing I have noticed is that the first time exploring, the spirits are off-ish. Quizzical but not interactive much. The next time, they know what to expect and know if the explorer’s are going to try to hurt them or not.”
“Everywhere we went that night we were asked— who are you? —why are you here? Questions like that came through the Ovulus.”
My overall takeaway from the night was much in the same vein. Feelings of confusion mixed; with a healthy mix curiosity and excitement. Was this coming from the team members? Perhaps. But, there seemed more to it. In the end, the search for the unknown comes down to personal belief and experience. It may never be captured, measured, or categorized; but it is the quest that is important. If nothing else was gained from the night; I had the opportunity to meet and converse with some fine folks. That in itself made it all worthwhile. I highly recommend them for anyone in need of assistance with their own quest.
Appalachian Unknown 2019:
Chelsea Ryan: Instagram @paranormalchels