A Haunted Cabin in The Woods

We had been driving for well over two hours when we arrived at our favorite vacationing spot, Phoenicia. Phoenicia is a small hamlet in Ulster County, in upstate New York. It is often overlooked by it’s more popular neighbor, Woodstock (although I admit we often drive there to experience the town’s eccentric locals and to purchase their handmade art and trinkets).

Upon arriving at the cabin we saw the owner working in the garden. He had been waiting for us so he could show us around and give us the grand tour. I had no idea the cabin was so big, a tour was a wise idea. We greeted him and followed him inside. He was an older man, stern and very matter-of-fact. He had built the cabin himself many years ago and unfortunately it showed. Most of the doors closed awkwardly, windows jammed shut or not at all and the lights flickered constantly. There was no way of turning on the upstairs lights unless you were, well, upstairs and the wooden floors creaked with every step.

He walked us past a door on the way to the kitchen and told us that it lead to the basement and that we should never go down there under any circumstances. I laughed at the seriousness of the statement. “Why? Is the basement haunted?”. He continued walking saying “Oh, this whole house is haunted.” I laughed but he didn’t. Surely he can’t be serious? I don’t believe in ghosts, but we were in the middle of nowhere on our own, in an old creepy cabin. It’s easy to fall victim to the tricks your mind can play. I guess deep down I just wished he had never had said it.

The Cabin
The creek and the forest beyond.
Out back was a fast flowing creek that marked the end of our property and the beginning of a dark dense forest on state land. You can click on the link below to hear it. 
BBQ station alpha

As soon as he left I spotted an outdoor grill by the creek. I have an irrational fear of bears* (of which there are over five hundred in the local area) but I felt that by drinking Goose Island IPA, blasting out Exile on Main Street by the Stones and burning meat would help me man up and forget that one could just “pop out” of the woods at any minute.

Bears, bears, Mmm smells good, bears, bears.
I planned on writing songs for Supermall‘s next album on that chair by the creek, but, you know, bears.
night falls

Night fell and we retreated inside for our first night in the woods. Maria wrote in the kitchen (the only room with a table) while I decided to snoop around the cabin. We had no cell phone coverage or Internet, just silence and peace.

The front door.

Before the owner left he told us to never open the front door. It was an antique he had recently installed and had not quite got it to work properly yet (what’s new?). We would have to enter and exit the cabin via the rear door. It was a very old door indeed but I managed to work out how to open it quit easily. I used it while unloading the car and found it to be the simplest door in the whole house to open. It was also the closest door to the (haunted) basement.

The lonely road to the cabin.
Front view

I returned inside and decided to get some more pictures of this creepy little house.


The mirror in the hallway (right) had a strange way of reflecting you back in an ever so slightly different way each time. I vowed after several more beers (dutch courage) to take a self-portrait.

I’m not sure what this is.
The flickering light.
Front door from inside.
Creepy wood carving.
One of many oil paintings hung throughout.
Why use a light bulb when half a chandelier will do?
The stars came out for everyone except my iPhone.
Two more beers and it was time for weird mirror self portrait time.
Normal lights? F*ck no, these will do.
Every cabin in the woods needs one of these.
More creepy oil paintings of people in distress.

This in particular weirded me out. Not because I’ve never seen the decapitated head of a wild animal hung on a wall as a decoration before, but because it was the first thing I would see walking out of the bathroom. Every time. I grew to really hate it over the course of the few days we were there.

The Happening (insert dramatic scary music)

It was thirty or so minutes after we went to bed and turned off every light in the cabin when we heard it. A very loud bang and then two smaller ones. It seemed far away but it definitely came from inside the house. I tried to pass it off as something falling off a shelf and attempted to go back to sleep. No matter how hard I tried I just couldn’t deny it, the sound had come from the basement. I grabbed my can of mace (bears/aggressive rodents) and my iPhone (torch) and ventured down to the basement with Marisa.

I stood in front of the basement door not knowing what had made the noise on the other side. I unlocked it and slowly pulled it open. As a reminder to the fact the cabin was hand built it loudly creaked open. I peered down into the darkness and placed my hand on the cold inside wall quickly searching for a light switch. There was none, just like upstairs you could only turn the lights on in the basement when you were in the basement. I used my iPhone light to scan into the darkness. A long wooden staircase steeply extended to the bottom of the basement. Something small and metallic lay at the end were you could turn left or right. I took a photo without a flash.

Yup, just like every horror movie.

There was nothing but silence from below. I tried to summon the courage to walk down the steps but to be honest it was damn creepy. I kept thinking of every guy in every movie who ventures down into the basement investigating a noise only never to return. F*ck it, I took a step. Creak! The step bowed under my foot. I took another. It creaked even louder. This guy was not a good carpenter. I decided to take a picture with the flash this time.  

Creaky haunted steps or bad carpentry?
Deep in the basement somewhere came another noise, faint this time. It could have been a water drop, a small rodent scurrying around, or just the wind from outside but I was done. I retreated and Marisa slammed the door behind me with relief. We don’t believe in ghosts but that basement was just damn creepy. We went back to bed and the beer took us off into a deep, well deserved sleep.

The next morning I walked down to the creek and found these foot prints in the soil. I have no experience in identifying prints but they looked like they belonged to a large animal. They had clearly been left a day ago.

demon hooves?
A trail of demon hooves?
A trail of demon hooves leading right to the cabin!

It was only when I returned home that I looked up the prints and found that they belonged to a deer. Pretty obvious to anyone who lives in the country. Maybe that was what made the noise the previous night as I had seen a few in the area. We decided to drive to the Phoenicia Diner and grab breakfast and not talk about the weird noises from the basement. I was glad I didn’t bring up the tracks not knowing what they were at the time.

Post haunting breakfast
Classic Americana

Later when we returned to the cabin I decided to to take the car and take a quick trip to some local abandoned railroads. Even though the sun was shining, by the time I climbed deep into the woods it was quit dark. My iPhone automatically adjusted to the darkness by keeping a slow shutter speed which is why the photographs below are bright and blurred. There is something incredibly sad about anything that has been abandoned that once took effort to put in place.

                           The Second Happening (insert even more dramatic scary music)

Driving back on the main route I turned right onto the long narrow road back to the cabin. About a 1/4 mile before the cabin I seen Marisa sitting on a small stone wall by the side of the road. I stopped the car and let her in. On the way back to the cabin she told me what had happened. Soon after I had left she was sitting in the kitchen writing at the table. This was her favorite spot to write during the day as she’d open the large windows allowing the sound of the creek to fill the kitchen while she had a full undisturbed view of the forest. While writing alone she heard three loud bangs come from upstairs. Slow, deep and intense like someone punching a wall. She ran from the cabin and down the road until she found the old stone wall were she sat and waited for my return.

Upon arriving at the cabin I checked the upstairs and found nothing unusual except for the bathroom. Lying in the middle of the tiled floor lay her hairdryer that was normally tucked away in a cupboard. I put it back in the cupboard and closed the door. I never mentioned it and told her I found nothing.

We spent three more nights at the cabin and nothing else major happened. We had a visit from an unusual owl that looked more like a small man to the point that we still joke about the human/owl hybrid creature that watched us from the trees at night. Bangs, bumps, creaks and slamming doors continued during the night, but to be honest, we were so tired and happy to be away from the city we just presumed, and I guess correctly so, that it was the wind making its claim on a house that was badly built.

On the last day I ventured deep into the forest, alone. I found a clearing and stood in its center to soak up the last of the silence before returning to the city. Something glistened in the dark shadows of a sprawling bush. As I leaned in I found old beer cans and a whiskey bottle that had been worn smooth by the elements. It was a sharp reminder that no matter how far you travel, the imprint of the past never truly leaves. Like a ghost, but then again, I don’t believe in them.

Goodbye (haunted?) cabin in the woods

*I also hate clowns, jellyfish, crocodiles, chick peas and most creepy crawlies 

4 thoughts on “A Haunted Cabin in The Woods

  1. This was excellent! That cabin looks damn creepy and I'm not sure I'd be able for a stay in it haha! When an old building like that creeks and makes noises your imagination can really run away with you 😛 Any little sound is eeevil. But who knows? Maybe it was ghosts. How'd the hairdrier get on the ground? Weeeeird…


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