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PostPosted: Fri Oct 15, 2010 4:39 pm 
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Location: Clovis, NM
I told my kids this one years ago, and my daughter requested that I write it down.
Thought I would share it with you....

Here’s an experience that has “haunted” me for years….

It was a cold rain that was dripping off the rim of my cowboy hat, and being blown down the back of my neck. It was well after dark, and I wasn’t to the cabin yet. Occasionally the lightening would light up my surroundings like a giant strobe light, leaving ghostly images behind.
It was really my fault. I’d spent too much time playing. I had left out at the trailhead around 5 a.m. that morning. Frank Smith, my dept’s lion hunter, had put me up for the night, and loaned me the use of Melanie, the ugliest mule I had ever seen (Melanie was named after a bucktoothed, “big boned” female game warden, who never caught the joke).
This was to be a two day, forty mile circle through the Gila Wilderness. Up the middle fork of the Gila River, over the top to Prior Cabin, come off the rim at Hell Hole, catch the west fork, and return. I had my rain slicker, some extra clothes, food, my survival kit, some grain for Melanie, and kibble for Akela, my Malamute who was keeping me company on this trip. Since I planned on staying at Prior Cabin, I didn’t have to mess with a tent or bedding.
I had my duty .357 mag. revolver, and a .357 mag. lever-action carbine…oh, and I forgot to mention..my fly rod….;~)
I had spent the morning checking a few anglers, exploring some Indian ruins, and photographing petroglyphs. Stopped and fished for some rainbow trout, caught enough for dinner. Probably fished too long…
Well, now I was going up a trail in the dark, during a lightening storm, to a place I’d never been to. I just gave the mule her lead, and hunkered down in the saddle. Akela stayed right along side, using the mule as a windbreak.
Soon the rain sounded different. I realized that it was the sound of rain hitting a tin roof. We were there!
I got Melanie situated in the stable with a good currying and extra helping of grain for getting us there.
Akela and I headed up to the cabin, where I lit the Coleman lanterns and unpacked the bedding from the rodent proof bins they were stored in.
After a dinner of rainbow trout and fried potatoes, I kicked back with about 3 fingers of Reposado Tequila from a bottle that had been left in the cabin, while reading some very old outdoor magazines that was also left behind. It continued to storm outside. If I had too, I could spend another night. There were enough canned goods to last several days.
After washing dishes, Akela and I turned in for the night. It had been a long day, and it and the tequila made snuggling down into the blankets all to inviting. Didn’t take me long at all to fall asleep.
Suddenly the blankets were thrown back and I heard a harsh whisper “Get up!” It was pitch black, and when I sat up, I smacked my head into the overhead bunk! Boy did I see stars! I was disorientated, my head hurt, I couldn’t see…and Akela was backed up against the bunk snarling at something. I kept asking “who’s there?” but no one answered. I grabbed my revolver from where it was hanging in its holster from the headboard, and my flashlight…no one was there. The door was still bolted from the inside.
I could hear Melanie hee-hawing and carrying on down in the stable. I figured the voice I heard and feeling the blankets pulled back was part of a bad dream. But mountain lions, wolves and bears are real in the Gila, and Melanie might be in trouble.
When Akela and I stepped outside, the storm had passed. But there was fog so dense my flashlight only penetrated a few feet. But that wasn’t the worst part. Have you ever been somewhere where you just know you are not welcome? There was such a feeling of malevolence the hair on the back of my neck stood up. With Akela pressed against my leg, my revolver belted on, my flashlight and carbine in hand, I headed down to Melanie. There was a faint, odd smell in the air, reminiscent of the sickly sweet smell of burning flesh.
I didn’t want to go down there. The odd feeling coupled with the swirling fog in my flashlight beam gave a feeling that “it/they” were out there waiting for me.
I soon left the light of the cabin behind. The sounds of my steps absorbed by the fog, its weight pressing down on me. I could see how people could believe in ghosts..the shifting shapes in my flashlight beam, along with an imagination (and too many late night horror movies) were taking a toll on me.
The dark mass of the stable and corral soon loomed out of the darkness. I opened the stable door and stepped inside. Melanie’s eyes were as big as saucers, and she kicked and brayed as she spun around in circles.
I lit a lantern, and worked on settling Melanie down. It took quite a while, and I couldn’t settle her down completely, she was still very alert. She and Akela reacted to every sound outside.
I really didn’t want to make that walk again to get to the cabin. According to my watch, it was 3 a.m. Morning would come in a few hours. I sat down against the wall, put Melanie’s saddle blanket over my shoulders, the carbine across my lap, and tried to get some sleep. The lantern and the two animals gave me a better feeling of security than I would have back at the cabin.
When dawn came, I fed the animals, fixed breakfast, cleaned and secured the cabin…and said good by to my one and only visit to Prior Cabin!
I finished my trip, and spent a lot of time thinking about what had happened. I didn’t believe in ghosts, and convinced myself that I was the victim of fatigue, tequila, circumstances, and an over active imagination.
When I got back to Frank’s place, he helped me unload, and put Melanie to pasture. He asked me about how my trip went. I told him it went well, and that I had an interesting night at Prior Cabin.
Frank gave a knowing smile and said “Some folks go there and never go back. Some go there all the time. Some never go alone. Some never even bother to go when they hear the story” I asked “what story?”
Frank squatted down, lit a cigarette, and told me the story of Prior Cabin.
“Well“, said Frank “back in December of 1885, when Geronimo was hiding out in Mexico, one of his younger followers named Josanie slipped back across the border with a dozen or so followers. Josanie rampaged through the Gila country, killing settlers, soldiers, miners, and 20 White Mountain Apaches, most of them women and children. He lit out for the high country with 6 White Mountain Apache women and a child. He lost his horses and supplies in a skirmish with Lt. Samuel Fountain and his 8th Cavalry troops.”
“The next day, the Apaches killed the only non-Indians who had probably ever lived between the middle and west forks of the Gila..miners Thomas C. Prior and John Lilly.”
“The bodies were found in front of the cabin. They had been tortured for hours. While still alive, the men had been staked out with the backs of their heads to a fire. The Cavalry troops who found them said it was one of the most gruesome sights they had ever seen. The bodies were buried near the cabin.”
Frank looked up at me. “Boo!” he said with a grin.

So, is the Prior Cabin haunted? I don’t know. I’m much more open to the possibility of ghosts than I was before this happened.
Y’all are welcome to find out yourselves…Prior Creek and the cabin is marked on Gila National Forest maps. Cabin is locked, and you are welcome to pitch a tent….but I won’t be there!

P.S. Josanie eventually slipped back into Mexico with the loss of only one of his followers after killing some 40 or so people.

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"A venturesome minority will always be eager to get off on their own... let them take risks, for godsake, let them get lost, sunburnt, stranded, drowned, eaten by bears, buried under avalanches --- that is the right and privilege of any free American." -- Edward Abbey, Desert Solitare


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 16, 2010 8:53 am 
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:banana: :appl:

Happy Halloween ..


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 16, 2010 10:27 am 
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"There was a faint, odd smell in the air, reminiscent of the sickly sweet smell of burning flesh."

That's something no one can ever forget,,, Will you ever spend another night there?,, I think NOT!!!!


:appl:

good tale,,,,,

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 25, 2010 8:18 am 
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Location: Southern Ohio
:bigthink:
Would that .357 drop a ghost?

Doc

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 25, 2010 12:20 pm 
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Location: Clovis, NM
I'd havta use Winchester Silvertips...no, wait..that's for werewolves... :biglol:

It's a great combination for wilderness travel. The Rossi .357 carbine (20" barrel cut down to 16") and a S&W Model 66. When I grabbed the carbine and jumped off the horse, I had 8 rds in the carbine (6 more in a buttstock carrier), 6 in the revolver plus 12 on my belt...32rds that could be used in either carbine or revolver.
I carried 125gr. hollowpoints in both for duty, but had along .38spl lead roundnose and shotshells for small game, and a few .357 158gr. softpoints for the carbine. Outside of elk, or the African oryx found on White Sands Missile Range, the .357 would be adequate for anything found in NM.
But for ghosts...I wonder if they still make that explosive "Phantom" round? :wink:

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"A venturesome minority will always be eager to get off on their own... let them take risks, for godsake, let them get lost, sunburnt, stranded, drowned, eaten by bears, buried under avalanches --- that is the right and privilege of any free American." -- Edward Abbey, Desert Solitare


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