While more adventurous folk look to the Appalachian Trail as a means of challenging their physical and mental stamina, the Eastern Continental Trail, which spans from Key West, Florida all the way to Belle Isle, is another rigorous course in which to test one’s mettle.
The trail itself is 5,400 miles and typically takes the average hiker a year to complete. Dominic (name changed for privacy), a former New Yorker, spent ten years in the hustle and bustle of the city until one day he simply couldn’t take it anymore.
A New Leaf
“I’m not sure what came over me, but one day I just had enough. I quit my job on the spot, packed up all of my belongings and booked it to Florida. I never had any intention of hiking the Eastern Continental Trail, but the moment I heard about it, something in my gut told me I had to do it,” he said, shaking his head and smiling.
“I spent an entire year preparing for it, researching routes, finding the right kind of gear. My friends told me I was crazy, but every step of the way, everything I did in preparation, felt right in an intuitive kind of way. It was the spring of 2014 when I started my journey on the ECT.
"A part from being a little unprepared for how weary and lonely I would become, I felt that I had done a decent job of planning. The very beginning of my journey happened without incident, but as I reached into the northern most part of Florida, things took a very strange turn,” he said and swallowed as though he had a lump in his throat.
“I will preface this part of my tale by saying that I do not abide by drugs, and I did not take any alcohol with me on the journey.
"When I started walking that day, I began to notice movement out of my periphery. At first I thought it was just animals, living and eating along the trail…But the more I watched, the more I realized that the movement seemed to be shadows, human sized shadows.
What Sinister Beings Live on the Eastern Continental Trail?
"A little worried, I tried to quicken my pace and ignore what I saw. But that very night I had a dream about an old, horrible looking woman wearing a thick black robe who came to sit by me in my tent while I slept. I’m still too creeped out to go into much detail about her appearance, but she looked like a hag to me,” Dominic said, making a face.
“By the light of day I could pass it off as mere stress, but the same thing happened to be the next night, and the night after that and the night after that. It got to the point where I could handle the physical demands of the ECT, but I couldn’t handle the emotional stress it was causing. I abandoned my quest and went to visit a friend in Key West.
"By chance, she decided to take me to visit a psychic and the woman told me that I had recently taken a journey and had been followed by demons,” he shrugged. “I don’t know if that is true, but my experience scared the living tar out of me.”