A Hike At Bachelors' Grove

A Hike At Bachelors' Grove
© 2006 PaganMaid - paganmaid.livejournal.com
May 5, 2006

In my other journal some time ago I talked about trust. Well, I neglected to tell you about this because I was going through some other stuff, but I had a practical lesson in trust a few weeks ago...

On April 30 I went to Rubio Woods in Midlothian, IL, one of the southwest suburbs of Chicago. Around the city we have many forest preserves that are used for picnicking, horseback riding, hiking, snowmobiling in the winter and other uses including camping. In this area we have some woods that are inhabited with spirits. Over a hundred years ago Native Americans traveled in the area known as Archer Avenue and they used the nearby Des Plaines River for spiritual cleansing. Their spirits are still around today, and I have experienced them.

Additionally, Al Capone and his gang are said to have used a nearby farmhouse as a hideout and speakeasy, allegedly transporting illegal booze through underground tunnels to the waterway known as the Illinois Ship and Sanitary Canal, which travels parallel to the Des Plaines River in the area. They also allegedly dumped bodies of people they killed into the woods behind the farmhouse. These woods, which my daughter and I hiked the week prior to April 30, are also inhabited with their spirits as well as those of Native Americans. Today the farmhouse is a pizza parlor that is also haunted.

Across the street from the farmhouse is the Willowbrook, a dance hall where a young woman attended a dance in the 1920s or 1930s and was killed in a car accident on her way home. Her ghost is said to travel Archer Avenue at night, accepting rides from strangers and then disappearing when the car reaches Resurrection Cemetery, where the woman is buried. She is known throughout the world as Resurrection Mary.

But Rubio Woods is the home of Bachelors' Grove, an old settlement with a cemetery that has been decaying for many years now. Grave markers stand, but some have toppled over when trees have fallen on them. There is a child's grave where people will leave toys, candy and other memorabilia. For tyears, the cemetery has been said to be violently haunted. There have been rumors of ghost cars traveling nearby, of people being decapitated or hanged. Some people have even seen a house in the surrounding woods, only to see it disappear as they approach it. Vandals have left their mark, and satanic rituals within the grounds have left their mark.

Bachelors' Grove was a community that was settled in the late 1820s, first by people traveling from New England, then by German immigrants from the old country. Eventually the community was deserted and houses decayed as nature overtook the area. The woods nearby still contain signs of the old settlement, with a foundation of a house near the cemetery. Rose bushes flourish wild throughout the woods, and an apple tree grows near the creek bordering the cemetery.

The woods surrounding the cemetery are also said to be haunted. Some people have gone inside at night to drink and to look for ghosts from the cemetery. Sometimes they have been rewarded with orbs, including blue flashing lights that have simulated a police car and scaring away the revelers. As I explored the cemetery with my daughter, her friend and a group of friends of mine, I have seen the trees move a short distance away as well as a glimpse of a woman in white. There was no wind where I stood. In the cemetery I felt strange, moist warmth by some of the gravestones as though a being breathed warmly over me, but no malevolent presences. I thought it was because there were too many people around, as well as the fact that it was raining at the time.

We posed for pictures by the quarry, where I spotted a part of a car submerged in the water, and we decided to explore the woods for more spiritual presences as well as the disappearing house.

We crossed the running creek and got our feet and our pants soaked. We had to make our own path much of the time, crossing muddy creeks and helping each other navigate the woods. We got our pants soaked, muddy, we fell a few times, but we trusted each other to make it out okay. And we did, though my tired mind and body had visions of "Deliverance" and "The Blair Witch Project" dancing in my head. But we didn't get lost, run into stick figures or anybody who demand we squeal like pigs.

We saw a lot of interesting things too. We found the decaying foundations, scratched ourselves on the thorny rosebushes, and found the apple tree with white blossoms by the creek. We found a deer and followed it until it disappeared, and a blue tarp with rusted beer cans. I found myself doing a lot of things I thought I was incapable of doing - like three miles around the woods and crossing muddy creeks, and all with an arthritic knee. Needless to say, I had to dry my shoes for three days afterward and did laundry right after we got home, but the experience was worth it.

And right before we crossed the creek again and ended up back at the cemetery we found a large tree that was bent over in half and hollowed out toward the base. According to legend, the hollowed out area is used by fairies as a portal to and from their world.

We went back to the parking lot, tired but satisfied with our journey. After a short discussion with each other to compare notes and talk about future outings, I took my daughter and her friend to get some food. My friends then returned to the cemetery where they discovered spiritual presences, now that most of the people had departed.

I'll return soon to Bachelors' Grove on a day that is less encumbered, but as I don't know the woods well I'll keep my explorations to the cemetery and nothing more. I also plan to explore the healing waters near the Des Plaines River that were used by the Native Americans when they traveled that area almost two hundred years ago...

That was my experience with trust. Trust in others and your own abilities and you'd be amazed at what you can accomplish. I remember a friend asking over a year ago whether I would "jump when I say to jump". It was a loaded question and I didn't know how to answer. And now, thanks to this experience, I know what he means.

And now, if you'd like to take a quick poll about your favorite "walk in the woods" movie/story, please feel free to visit my [info]paganmaid journal. Thanks for reading!