This was several years back; my brother and I met some friends for a weeklong northbound hike on the Appalachian Trail (AT) in Southern Virginia. To help keep the weight down we decided to spend our nights in the shelters along the AT instead of bringing tents since the shelters are conveniently spaced along the trail. If you have ever traveled along the AT you know that each shelter has its own log book where hikers leave random thoughts, notes to other hikers, and advice for hikers heading the other direction about what to expect of the trail the next day.
On our second night out we were resting after a long day of hiking and decided to read through the log book at War Spur shelter. There were the usual entries about water sources and hikers trying to meet up with other hikers, then there were some strange entries about 3 wild goats living on top of the mountain that steal socks from resting hikers, but what really caught our interest were the numerous entries about Sarver Cabin
We had planned to skip the Sarver Cabin shelter for 2 reasons: 1) the guide book said that it was supposed to be completed that year so we didnít know if it existed yet and 2) it was supposed to be a steep 1/4 mile hike down the side of the mountain and we didnít want to start a day climbing if we didnít have to. However what we saw in the trail log changed our minds. The shelter was complete, brand new and ready for use, but that wasnít the selling point, the area was also haunted. Sarver Cabin is the location of an old homestead that is now abandoned and falling apart. Every entry about it in the book said that the shelter was very nice but the area around the shelter had some creepy old buildings and many mentioned hearing a ghost that sounded like a man walking with a cane.
We were skeptic, hearing something walking in the woods at night is hardly proof of a haunting, there are a lot of animals that walk around in the woods along the AT at night unseen, but if we had a chance to camp in a haunted spot then we were not going to pass it up. So the next day we altered our plans a little to make our stop at Sarver Cabin and spent the day speculating about what we would find. We arrived with plenty of daylight left for exploration and the hike down the side of the mountain was exactly as expected, steep and not worthwhile if you donít have a reason to make it.
The shelter was brand new, no sign of weathered wood and it sat in the middle of a pile of fresh gravel with no grass for at least 5 feet in any direction. You couldnít walk up to it without making a distinct crunching sound on the fresh gravel. It was a large one level shelter with a large covered porch.
The shelter was at least 100 yards from the buildings of the homestead and we explored these after dropping off our gear. There wasnít much left of the homestead, what looked like the main cabin was log construction, had a collapsed roof and the walls were starting to fall in. There was another smaller building that was pretty creepy, it was about the size of a root cellar but was all above ground and looked like it was probably used to lock something in. After exploring a few of the trails from the cabin we found what looked like an old cemetery, it wasnít one of those old scary cemeteries like we expected, it was just your standard homestead family burial plot.
Now that we were familiar with the area all we could do was make dinner and wait for nightfall and possibly ghosts. On any other night we would have gone to bed when the sun set but tonight was different. We were determined to stay awake so we wouldnít miss the haunting. When it got dark we lit some candles and played dice. The hours went by; we heard noises in the woods but all of them we could attribute to animals; the four legged steps of dear, the quick sounds of mice darting through the underbrush, and the hoots of owls but nothing that sounded like an old man walking with a cane. It got later and later but still nothing until eventually we decided to give up and crawl into our sleeping bags, after all, we still had a long hike ahead of us the next day.
So there I was lying in my sleeping bag, disappointed that we had missed our chance to see a ghost and too hot to sleep in the summer heat. One by one my companions drifted off to sleep, I closed my eyes and tried to get some sleep as well and thatís when I heard it. On the right side of the shelter I heard a Crunch on the gravel like a foot stepping down, then another Crunch of a foot followed by a quick lighter crunch. Then there was a pause, then again a Crunch... Crunch crunch; Crunch... Crunch crunch. What could that be? I asked myself, it didnít sound like a deer or a bear and it was too big to be a mouse. Then it hit me, it was the sound an old man would make walking with a cane. First one foot then the other quickly followed by the cane. This was it, I was hearing the ghost, the moment I had waited for all night but now I was too scared to look.
I kept listening... Crunch... Crunch crunch, getting closer to the front of the cabin, Crunch... Crunch crunch. I still couldnít force myself to open my eyes. Then I heard the sound change from a crunch to a hollow thump but still in the same pattern... whatever it was had stepped up onto the porch. Thump... Thump thump, another step on the porch, Thump... Thump thump. This was it, this was my chance, whatever was walking out there was right in the middle of the porch, in one quick movement I opened my eyes and sat up looking straight at where the sound was coming from and there is was... nothing. No ghost, no animal running away, no sound, just an empty porch. If it was an animal then it would have made noise running off the porch and over the 5+ feet of fresh gravel, but it didnít, the only thing that I have ever heard of that can disappear into thin air is a ghost.
It took me a couple more hours to get to sleep that night, every sound seemed amplified but I never heard those footsteps again. The next day I told the others what I heard but not one of them heard it. They all said I must have been dreaming but I assure you I was not. We packed up and headed up the mountain for another day on the trail and, in case you are wondering, those 3 wild goats are there, up on top of the mountain waiting for hikers to pass by so they can lick the salty sweat off your legs or steal your sweaty socks if you decide to take a break and air out your feet.
Don't believe this story?
Visit Sarver Cabin and see for yourself.
Read More Ghost Stories
The Will of The Wisp
Alone in the Allegheny National Forest
The Trees are Talking
Screams in the Night
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