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Halloween is coming, so I thought I’d tell you one of my true(ly) scary stories. This one is about something that happened while we were in our house on Eagles’ Nest Mountain in Waynesville, NC.
One day, my mother and I decided to go visit friends in Highlands, NC. My sister, Melanie, was quite young at the time and had a very good friend who lived at the bottom of the mountain. Our house was near the very top of the mountain (with glorious views of Maggie Valley). Since there would be very little for Mel to do during our trip, we decided it would be best if she would stay and play with Heidi.
My Aunt Jean (Hyatt) Richardson was also visiting with us, and she opted to stay home. She’d grown up just down the mountain, and her kin were all around the area. She was going to spend the day visiting with them, so she stayed with our dog Gretyl.
The drive to Highlands was scary enough! The roads we took were twisty and turny, and there were areas with shear drops several hundred feet down the sides of mountains. When I think of the little rock walls on the down-side of the road, I still laugh. Don’t know what, exactly, they were supposed to stop, but it wouldn’t have been any normal-sized vehicle. The other sides of the road were straight up except for the rocks that stuck out from the walls. Surely, there was an easier way to get to our friend’s place, but her directions were very fuzzy. My mother swears that the air in the car was blue from all the curse words uttered. (I may have even made up a few new ones.) If you’ve never been “chased” down a mountain, back-road by a logging truck, consider yourself very lucky. But that wasn’t the end of the fright for the day.
After a pleasant visit, we headed back to Waynesville, We had better directions on how to get back, so the ride was much more pleasant. We stopped for dinner along the way and made our leisurely way back to Eagles’ Nest. That’s when the “fun” began.
As we were approaching Eagles’ Nest Mountain Road, we saw more police cars with lights flashing than we thought existed in the whole state of North Carolina. They were all getting off the interstate at our road. We only got as far as Mom and Pop Hyatt’s home (at the base of the mountain) when we were stopped and turned back.
Apparently, two bad guys had robbed a liquor store near Asheville, stolen a car, shot at police, and headed up our road. They’d ditched the car right at the gate that lead up the road – right next to where Mel was playing at her friend’s home. The authorities had the road blocked and weren’t letting anyone up or down.
We joined a large contingent of Hyatts at Mom and Pop’s place. A quick call to Heidi’s parents reassured us that Mel was safe and that the police had posted sentries outside their home. Aunt Jean was another story, though. Here she was in our home up on the top of the mountain with only our dog keeping her company. We begged the police to let us go up to our home. The state police weren’t having any of it until the local county authorities arrived. Once they learned that Aunt Jean was Jean HYATT, the tune changed. To help you understand a little more, at one time just about everything in Haywood County was “Hyatt” something. The name is still attached to creeks, road, hills, and developments.
A rapid convoy was arranged. In the front were two police cars, then us in my car, then two more police cars. Lights were flashing everywhere.
Eagles’ Nest Mountain Road is like most of the other roads in the area. There are sharp curves, switchbacks, hairpin turns, and very few straight areas. It’s just wide enough for two cars to pass (in most places). We took the whole road. I never had before (nor after) gone up that road so fast. We’d been warned to keep in tight formation. I’m still not sure how we made it up there without someone rear-ending someone, but we did.
We sure were glad to get home, and Aunt Jean was beside herself. We all settled in to stay locked down for the night. That was, all of us except Gretyl. Poor pup had to “go!” She’d been cooped up inside for as long as she could wait. On top of that, there were “strange” people outside our house. The police had left a patrol to make sure we were safe. I hollered out to the officer that my dog absolutely could wait no longer. He grudgingly let us out. So, here I am, in the pitch dark, with a scared dog on a leash, just beggin’ her to go ahead and pee. (Now, Gretyl – being like most dogs – was almost too afraid to pee.) I was so concerned about her, that I didn’t hear the person walking up behind me. Nigh to jumped out of my skin when the biggest man I’d ever seen showed up right behind me! He even startled Gretyl as he’d appeared so quickly and quietly. Phew, another one of the police who was looking for the bad guys. He wasn’t sure who we were and why we were out there, but he was none too happy that we were.
Business taken care of, we were hustled back into the house. I know I didn’t sleep a wink. My mother was upstairs with my sister and aunt. My room was on the main level of the house. Gretyl stayed with me. Every so often, she’d give a low, warning growl. She sure wasn’t letting those men outside forget she was on duty.
Our house was a cross between a chalet-style and a barn. It was built into the bedrock of the mountain, and had a walk-out basement. The deck from the main portion of the house protruded out probably 20 feet. The views were spectacular. We could see the lights of Maggie Valley, the lighted cross on Mt. Lyn Lowery, and (on clear days) Mt. LeConte (the highest peak in the area and the third highest peak in the Smokies). The basement was only visible from below.
After a sleepless night, we were informed that one of the desperados had been caught and the other was presumed to be at least as far away as Maggie Valley. We could go back to our normal routine. The whole area breathed a sigh of relief (all except Gretyl who was still growling – poor dog was traumatized). That was until the next day, when the second guy was caught…walking down Eagles’ Nest Mountain Road.
Where’d he been? He told the authorities that he’d spent both nights up on top of the mountain…up next to a concrete basement… under a big deck.
Up Next: Another Smoky Mountains “Ghost” Story
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