In spite of the fact that I do not believe in monsters, the supernatural or Lovecraftian horrors, I will still go out of my way to try and find them. I’ve gone to Boston Commons trying to find the numerous ghosts that are supposed to have been sighted there. I’ve journeyed down abandoned stairwells hidden away in the walls of the bookstore I worked at.
And now I’ve walked down the legendary Downs Road. There are a few blog entries already written on the subject and the road has worked itself into a few book on haunted New England locations, but that’s not how I first found out about it. A friend of mine claims to have had his own spooky experiences on the road involving a dream catcher and he has been wanting to go back.
Now, we’ve been wanting to go down the Downs Road for a year and a half now, but haven’t had the time or the resources until recently. If you don’t live in New England, you may not be aware that less than two weeks ago, three feet of snow were dumped on the whole region. Snow and rain were also forecast for the whole day. But that didn’t matter, because we were goin to hunt monsters and ghosts and redneck hillbillies and whatever else might be lurking on the road.
Because the stories aren’t really clear what lives on that road. There are stories of ghosts and stories of malformed hillbillies and stories of a four foot tall bigfoot. There’s no one thing that ties together the stories except for creeped out hikers and scary experiences.
My friend, a third friend and myself all went out at around 5 yesterday in the hopes that on our way back it would be truly dark and we could get proper scared. To access the road, you need to drive to Hampden, Connecticut, to the end of a residential street that ends in a cul de sac. At the end of Downs Road, there’s a second cul de sac that’s located one town over, in Bethany.
We marched through snowy woods in snow over a foot thick while we got more and more soaked in the rain. We came across strange tracks in the snow that seemed to belong to some large, three toed creature. But I’ve spent enough time in the country to know that I know nothing about animal tracks. What look like monster tracks to a city slicker like me are most likely tracks made by squirrels that have altered as the snow melts, making the tracks appear larger than they were at the outset.
We heard the occasional owl and saw foot prints from other people hiking through, some of which stopped abruptly in the middle of nowhere, but I’m going to chalk that up to the tracks merely fading as time went on.
We explored the old ruins and the stone walls that cross the countryside. It’s eerie, there’s no doubt about that. It’s so quiet and the little bits and pieces of someone’s failed attempts to colonize the woods are not exactly uplifting. That’s what unnerved me the most; it was a reminder of a time when someone could walk into those woods and never come out again, when the wilderness spanned much further than two cul de sacs, and a body could get lost forever in the wilds.
We walked the length of Downs Road and back again and we saw and heard nothing of note. We were soaking wet, exhausted and ready to make the two hour drive back to Boston. On the way back, we reflected on the sobering realization of an era long lost and the reminders of our own fragility in the face of the unforgiving wilderness.
Or we belted out Weird Al songs while eating junk food.