Monday, August 17, 2009

Canoe Trip to the Unknown

When Steve W. set off on an adventure with just a canoe and a head full of summer dreams, he never expected that it would take him on the most fantastic journey of his life. Around the bend on that scenic river, the 50-year-old man discovered, was the dwelling place of creatures that he once regarded as belonging only to the world of storybooks and magic. But now, with his own eyes, he saw that they were real. This is Steve W.'s true story:

On June 24, 2003, I went canoeing in Western Kentucky on the Rough River. I had just wanted to get away for a little rest and relaxation, away from my normally hectic life. I put my canoe in at a nice little portage near the Falls of Rough, just downstream of the falls, which is not too far from Rough River State Park. The current was very fast because of all the recent rainfall. It was really just a typical canoe ride down a very pleasant and scenic river.
I had a very funny, queasy, nervous feeling though. I was inexplicably anxious for some reason. Although I could not define why, I felt like I had something to fear - and I sensed death. Taking these sensations seriously, I was extremely cautious on the river because I didn't want the death to be mine.
After several miles, I paddled the canoe to the riverbank and tied off to a tree. I got out to stretch and to explore the area. I climbed the bank and looked for a smooth, dry spot to pitch my tent. After deciding to camp near the water so I could keep a good eye on the canoe, I went on a little hike. I climbed up the hill and around the bend to a little creek that flowed back into Rough River.
Looking down eight or 10 feet into the creek, I spotted what looked like the top of a clay jar. I instantly recalled a dream in which I found some ancient pots. This recollection sent my imagination running wild with the thought that I might have found some old archaeological artifact.
I started down the bank toward the creek. The bank was extremely slippery with mud and down I went, sliding all the way. My backside and hands were caked with gooey mud, but I stopped just short of the water and very close to the old earthenware pot. It was more like a clay crock and I quickly realized that it probably wasn't very old and that the bottom was probably broken as well.
I poked at it and noticed there were little handprints on it. I figured a raccoon had already searched it, but upon looking more closely saw that these prints were not like a raccoon's; they were more like little human handprints, about an inch wide.
As soon as that thought entered my mind I dismissed it as preposterous. I started pulling on the jar, but it was stuck really well in the mud with suction holding it down like super glue. I figured, well I'm all dirty anyway; I'll just get a stick and pry this thing loose. After working on it for a while, it finally budged.
But when it did, I heard something.

I heard what sounded like little kids laughing. It was coming from down the creek several yards away... in the bank somewhere. When I at last managed to pull the crock jar out of the mud, something screamed! It sounded like a little girl - really high-pitched and loud! Man, I was scared. Who or what could it be?
Not knowing exactly what to do, I grabbed the jar and began to scramble up that muddy bank. Glancing back, I saw something move down near the creek. Now I was freaking out! I made it back up the bank and set the stoneware jug down. It was just a cylinder about 14 inches tall and 12 inches in diameter. It had a little rim about an inch down from the top. It was dark brown on the outside and light brown on the inside. It guessed it weighed about five pounds. And, yes, it did have little handprints on it - that wasn't my imagination.
I sat at the top of the bank for a moment looking at the jar, trying to reason away the handprints. It's no big deal, I finally decided, compared to that scream and those voices. Leaving the jar for the moment, I walked along the creek aways and stopped every once in a while to peek through the bushes and see if anybody was there. That's when I got the shock of my life!
When I looked over that bank I saw two little people standing about 10 inches tall. As incredible as that sounds, I'm not kidding! They had pale skin, little brown leather pants held up by suspenders, no shirts and little pointy hats made of what looked like leather. They had leather foot coverings that went up past the ankle. Their hair was a reddish color and their eyes blue. Their hands were only about an inch wide!
They knew I was watching, but they continued their task: they were pulling some kind of wooden stump down that muddy creek bank with long leather ropes or strings. These little men were surprisingly clean, I remember thinking, for the work they were doing. Then I heard a thump back where I first went in the creek. I looked back and there were three more of them - men just like the first two - and they had pushed that crock jar back down the bank. They were all laughing - high-pitched laughter, like a bunch of kids.
Then I heard a loud snap… and they were all gone. Their footprints were plainly visible in the mud, but they were gone along with the crock jar and the wooden stump. They had vanished in a split second.
My heart was racing and I struggled to catch my breath. I was feeling pretty insane! How am I going to tell anyone about this? Yet that's exactly what I decided to do. I walked almost two miles back to the old mill by the falls where I started. (The stream was too fast to try to paddle the canoe back upstream.) I had my cell phone with me, but it was just one of those emergency ones that I was going to use to call my girlfriend when I was ready to come home and she could come get me and the canoe.
At the falls, I spotted a man in a pickup truck, whom I assumed worked for the golf course they were building there. I told him I needed a witness to what I had just seen. I didn't expect him to believe me just from my story, but I thought perhaps I could get him to at least come look. He told me to quit smokin' that stuff. I practically pleaded with him to get someone else and we'd go down there together and I would show them. He flatly refused, saying I was crazy and that he wasn't going anywhere with me.
Nearby was a cable TV repair truck; the repairman told me get away from him, too. I suspected that the guy in the pickup called the repairman on a CB radio or cell phone and told him he thought I was crazy. Between what I had seen and the reactions of these two guys, I was starting to feel a bit paranoid. I started to think: they'll call the police and have me arrested, and I sure don't need that.
I gave up on those two and decided to walk back downstream to the ditch where it all happened. I just had to look again. When I got there - I cannot explain it - it wasn't the same. There were no footprints, no sign of the little people at all. Where I slid down the bank was as clean as a whistle - no skid marks. The mud looked completely undisturbed. I was and still am absolutely positive that was the exact spot where it all took place. But there was no sign of anything.
I loaded up my gear in the canoe and got the hell out of there. About 20 miles downstream, I camped out in a hay field. That night as I lay in my tent, all of the strangeness and impossibility went through my mind of the strangest camping trip I ever had. I just could not get those little people out of my mind. They knew I was watching them, but for a little while they didn't care… and then they vanished. In my mind I can still hear them... like little kids on a playground, laughing, screaming, playing.
Was it real? Am I crazy? They were real. When I told my girlfriend the whole story, she just laughed and told me of the time she had seen a little green man under the lilac bush at her grandmother's house when she was little. She had no problem with it. Well, it's a big deal to me because I have to live with knowing what I experienced. It was just too strange! Little people - indeed!

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