Ghosts of Santa Cruz

The Haunted Coast.

They say the California Central Coast is full of ghosts, that with the mists, clouds, and fog the sea brings apparitions. You never feel quite alone near the sea, especially when the hazy light fades.

I’ve felt the touch of spirits, good and bad. The good, on one of my trial runs at UCSC. It was mid day but a type of fog the natives call “pogonip” covered the sun. It filled the forest with cool drizzle. The damp charged the scent of eucalyptus and bay leaf. As I emerged from the tree covered path and entered the meadow, a burst of sun beams broke through the fog; they shined through the hole in the clouds above me. It was as if a window to heaven had opened up. I was stunned; I stopped running and just looked up in amazement at the mysterious portal. A rush of warm air blasted down. It smelled of fresh roses, strawberries, and mint. With the scent came an overcoming thrill of joy. I laughed. When I came to my senses, the portal had closed. I inhaled deeply, then continued my run. From that point onward, I had the distinct sense that someone watching over me. It was a little discomforting at first because it was so pronounced and lasted for weeks. I felt self-conscious taking showers, going to restroom, and doing other personal things. Either I got used to feeling or it went away.

A few days later, a daydreaming mother of three side swiped my Corolla. After the impact, I stepped from my car to find out if the woman who hit me was OK. She and her children were fine. I returned to my vehicle to retrieve my insurance information. Just before reaching into my glove compartment, I felt a presence tugging on my shoulder, urging me to step away from the car. I looked at the road, but it was clear. Nevertheless, the pressure to get off of the road overcame me. I left the insurance information in the car and walked to the curb. As soon as I got to the curb a huge SUV zoomed around the corner and slammed into my car, completely wrecking it.

The other supernatural encounter I had at UCSC was not so positive. It was downright frightening. And I hope it never happens again. It was about a week before the angel came to me. I was hiking across the street from family student housing. It’s an “off limits” hidden trail. The hike started out pleasant enough. I crossed a dilapidated bridge, then spied an inviting side trail. It was narrow had clovers and wild strawberries on the sides. Soon the vegetation gave way to looming redwoods, which darkened the path considerably. As I followed the trail, a growing sense of dread emerged. It got to point where I was in a panic, almost overcome with terror. I felt as I would lose my mind if stepped further, as if some malicious presence would take control. My hair raised, my heart raced. An alarm was triggered in me; it told me told me run, to get the hell out of there ASAP! But when I tried to run, I couldn’t. I was frozen in place. I tried to yell, but my voice didn’t work. Then I heard a branch snap near a ring of huge, ominous Redwoods. I know no one else was on that trial. Whatever had snapped the twig wasn’t human or animal. I knew I could not be alone with it. But I couldn’t move and I knew it was approaching. I forced myself to imagine a peregrine falcon (my totem animal) flying overhead. The grip of terror broke. I bolted off the trail and ran home.

A few days later, I decided to run an experiment, I took someone else with me to the same area, determined not to venture as far this time. I did not tell her what had happened to me the last time I went there. Sure enough, the person I was with had the same alarm signals go off. She turned to me and said, “This place is evil. We need to go.”

These are the places of power, some good, some evil. Their energy cannot be denied. Tread barefoot, it’s easier tell which is which.

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