If you want to connect to nature this Halloween, and do something spooky at the same time, this is the book for you (but not your little ones).
I have been searching for a topic to cover this Halloween that offers something unique for my readers --- something different from the typical "how to use nature to decorate for Halloween" topic. Not that there is anything wrong with that, we enjoy taking Bean and Budder to the pumpkin patch every year, gathering leaves and gourds, creating spider webs and going batty for one of our favorite holidays. However, as true fan of Halloween I really, really enjoy the "supernatural" side of the holiday. Ghosts and goblins intrigue me. I love a good ghost story. Yes, I am a believer...as I've had my own experiences with ghosts. In fact, there is one ghost story I tell which is about my first-hand experience with a ghoul that brings tears to my eyes and raises the hair on the back of anyone's neck who listens.
The thing is, with two children under seven, I can't go there...yet. We do the basic Halloween stuff, of which ghosts and skeletons are natural part of it. But if there was a real understanding of what those symbols of Halloween really mean, there would be a BIG problem in our house! In other words, they would be sharing the 'rents bed for the next 10 years. So, in a nutshell, I guess you can say I am ghost deprived.
Haunted Hikes in Vermont: A Book Review
Naturally, I was intrigued when I received the book entitled Haunted Hikes of Vermont to review. It awakened the inner ghost chaser in me. I also thought might offer an interesting way to get older kids involved in nature as it's not the typical "corny nature activity" and I have had several readers mention they would like to learn more about nature activities for older children. But be warned, some of the haunted hikes covered in the book are not for the feint of heart, and they might even be too scary for high schoolers.
Upon reading the introduction, it was apparent that the author, Tim Simard, did a ton of first-hand research into hikes in Vermont that take you to haunted places. And we aren't talking graveyards here! We are talking about real hauntings, where people have seen ghosts, heard the sound of a train where no tracks exist and lights flashing in the middle of the woods. It also covers places where there are doors to another dimension, where people have disappeared never to be seen again, and where monsters lurk in lakes. No matter you personally believe, parts of the book are truly creepy. So much so, that even I question whether I want to do any of the hikes, especially at night! In other words, ignorance is bliss and that's the way I think I prefer it in this case.
The book is well written. Simard divides it into 13 chapters, each covering a different area of the state, beginning in southern Vermont then heading north. Each chapter includes a historical review of the area Haunted Hikes of Vermont including the related ghost stories and legends. If you enjoy a good ghost story, it's worth reading the book for just that purpose. He also includes descriptions of each trail and directions to it, the level of difficulty, elevation, distance and time it takes to hike it. Additionally, he provides excellent details of each trail, how to access it in winter, and what specifically to look for, like beautiful limestone cliffs, rare and fragile alpine plants, moose, deer and little green men who just disembarked from their UFO.
Throughout the book, I couldn't determine whether or not Simard believed all the tales he recounted. As he described his experience on there trail, he recounted strange occurrences, but also seemed skeptical of others. In the end I came to the conclusion that no matter what he personally believed, he was certainly more brave than I!
Overall, I enjoyed reading the book, and as a New Englander, found the historical background quite interesting. It covers many of the most beautiful, difficult and breathtaking hikes in Vermont and could easily serve as the prefect trail companion in that respect alone. When you add the creepiness factor, those who like being scared, or are just downright interested in the supernatural, unexplained events, UFO's and the like will appreciate it.
Since we're on the topic, does anyone know a good ghost story???