Fall in the Green River Valley

By Sandy Schenck

By Missy Schenck


Jack-o-lantern season is upon us.  For many that means carving a Halloween pumpkin, but for those of us in the Green River Valley, it’s quite a different tale.

Legend has it that one fall just about the time of the changing of the leaves, the old Green River Preserve Camp caretaker, Alfred, wandered high into the mountains one afternoon to deer hunt.   Now Alfred was quite a character.  He was the third generation to grow up in a one room cabin right on the Preserve.  The foundation for his family’s cabin is down in the Hemlock Grove, the last remaining original growth forest on the property.  Trees in the grove are three hundred years old or more.

Alfred knew this land. Since childhood his days were spent exploring every rock, stream and cave on it.  He knew the trees, the animals and the spirits and they knew him, too.  For Alfred to ever get lost would be extremely unusual.

One afternoon, Alfred took off up Uncle’s Creek towards the waterfall. The days were shorter now and the sun had already begun to set. The fog was rolling in over the mountains and recent rains washed away many of the trails.  Alfred lost his way.

Very few things ever made Alfred afraid.  He’d been a part of these woods his entire life.  Still, he knew the best thing to do when you are lost, particularly when it is dark, is to stay put; so, he settled in for the night.  There were plenty of leaves for warmth and he had his shotgun for protection.

Just as Alfred was dozing off, a bright light caught his eye.  Thinking it was his imagination, but wanting to be on the safe side, Alfred slept with one eye open.   Alfred’s parents had told him about Jack-o-lanterns, bright round balls of light, that appear mysteriously, but he had never encountered one.

Trying his best to stay alert, Alfred dozed off again only to be awakened by an even brighter light.  This time, it was not his imagination.  What was going on?   He decided to stay perfectly still and wait.  As he did the light came closer and closer to him.  Right behind it was another light, and another. Soon several balls of lights surrounded him.

The lights’ power was hypnotic.  Their rhythmic movement mesmerized Alfred as he followed them through the uncharted woods of the mountains to his own backyard.   The lights disappeared as fast as they appeared.  Many folks still seek the answers to their mystery.  Alfred’s family thought he was delusional.

This past summer campers were camping one night up on the Upper Bald field near Peggy’s Rock.  A call came in on the radio close to midnight.  Sandy and I were on radio duty.  The communication reported the sighting of a bright round ball of light mysteriously wandering towards the group.  The campers were all safely asleep in the shelter, but the counselors were unable to sleep for fear of the bright light.   The moon was not full and it was not fireflies.   Sandy was positive it was a Jack-o-lantern.  Convincing the counselors of this was not successful.  They wanted to return to base camp.

During the following session, Bentor, the mentor, jumped at the opportunity to take his group to the same location with hopes of sighting the bright light.   That they did!   This time, the group did not radio in at midnight.  They waited until the next day to make their report at dinner.

What do you think was seen?   Do you believe Alfred was disillusioned?  Do you think Sandy was right on target?  What do you think Bentor’s group of campers saw?

Please help us finish this story… send your final paragraph to GRP and we will include it in our next newsletter… until then… Happy Fall!