Because of my wonked up training schedule, I decided to shoot for my 15 mile run yesterday, as opposed to waiting until Saturday. I have been wanting to run in a new place, so I tried out the Chickamauga Battlefield. Back in April I ran a 15k there. It was a pretty run, with a few gentle rolling hills.
Before I ran in the 15k race there, I looked up ghosts for that particular battlefield. Turns out it is "the third most haunted Civil War Battlefield," as named by some organization that comes up with such lists. I mean, in a place where 37,000 people were killed or wounded, surely there are some unhappy souls still wandering the place. Chickamauga has the usual "lady in white" who is searching for her husband, sounds of horses when there are none present, and seeing a lost solider or two looking for his regiment. Then there is "Ol' Green Eyes" (description courtesy of The Moonlit Road)
... a strange, otherworldy creature, half-man and half-beast. He's been spotted walking on two legs and has long, stringy hair down to his waist. But he also has glowing green eyes and huge jaws with two sharp fangs sticking out. It is believed that this version of Green Eyes comes from a Native American legend from long before the Civil War. There were some reports of the creature wandering among the dead at Snodgrass Hill shortly after the Battle of Chickamauga.
CREEPY. CREEPY. CREEPY. I even found so accounts by the former park ranger about an encounter with him. (Prarieghosts.com has some good stories about the park - scroll about halfway down the page). ANYWAY, I should have never looked up the battlefield ghosts, because I am creeped out every time I go there now. During the 15k it didn't bother me - there were 300 other people running with me and I felt safety in numbers.
But it turns out that mid-morning Mondays are not a very popular time at the battlefield. I was all by my lonesome out there. Unseasonably warm (70ish) and lots of fall color still on the trees. The first three miles were fair, at best. I was on a road with lots open field on one side of me, and plenty of historical markers and monuments (FYI to the Indiana Cavalry: leave some room for everyone else.). I don't know if I was running too fast or if the nice breeze in my face was to blame, but I was worn out, and I had to take more than one walking break during those first three miles. I got back out to the main road through the park and then cut off on another side road that I remembered from the 15k. Long story short, it was very wooded, and I felt creeped out the whole time. Then I took another road that turned out to be just as secluded. I only saw maybe 4 cars pass the whole time. I felt very isolated. Normally I like that I can find that feeling running though a crowded neighborhood, but this time it was unnerving.
I continued to turn on roads that I thought were headed back towards the visitor's center, but I never came to it. Finally I turned on a road and there was a sign that read, "Welcome to Chickamauga Battlefield," so at some point I must have left the park completely. I saw some stereotype of an old man getting his mail, and he assured me that I would get back to the main road in about a mile.
I finally got back to my car and headed for home. I decided to drive my route to see what my mileage was, and I came out to a decent 9 miles. Not the 15 I had hoped for, but I will try for that on Saturday. So I never did see the lady in white searching for her husband, or the riderless horse wandering the hills, and thankfully no Ol' Green Eyes. But they were present in my mind enough at least to make me feel like maybe I wasn't so alone out there on the roads.