As I had mentioned in my last post, there is an old bridge near my house called “Old Alton Bridge” or as local legend decries it “Goatman’s Bridge”. The two local legends are what gives Old Alton Bridge its alternative name. On the one hand, there is the legend that the area is inhabited by a demonic Satyr, who supposedly throws rocks at people visiting the area, particularly at night. For me, not a particularly believable legend. The second legend, has it that a local goat farmer – a black man with a very honest reputation – was lynched from the bridge by local Ku Klux Klansmen. When the KKK members pushed the goat farmer off the edge of the bridge to hang, they looked down to see an empty noose and the goat farmer nowhere to be found. In a panic, they traveled back to the goat farmer’s house and slaughtered his family. The legend continues that if you traveled over the bridge without your headlights on, you would see the goatman on the other side of the bridge, warning you to turn on your lights. When you did so, the goatman vanished. The Old Alton Bridge was in use for normal traffic until 2001, when the concrete bridge nearby was built. Old Alton Bridge is only wide enough for a single vehicle to go over at a time. To facilitate the traffic flow, when approaching the bridge, traffic had to honk their horn to signal that they were crossing the bridge, so that oncoming traffic would slow down.
I showed up at the Old Alton Bridge around 0930, realized that I had forgotten my flash card for my camera – and immediately returned to the house for it. I only live 2.3 miles from this bridge, so the return trip was fairly quick. My first stop was to underside of the modern concrete bridge that replaced the Old Alton Bridge. As one would suspect, the area has become a haven for teenaged drinking, and the resultant trash and graffiti associated with it. The feeling of the land here was not a very strong one, until crossing underneath the Old Alton Bridge on the exposed sandy bottom. There was evidence of some night-time fires having been lit down here, along with smashed ceramic materials and a multitude of discarded beer bottles. The feeling of sadness here was fairly strong, and I suspect it would be helped with a little cleaning. This is definitely something I will think a bit on – and try to come up with an idea of how to go about changing this. Druidry has a service element to it, and I cannot think of a greater way to provide service than to clean up this area. A little planning is definitely in order.
Moving back towards the walking path towards the bridge, there is evidence that remote cameras are here to try and stifle some of the local shenanigans in this area. It is obvious that this is not too effective from the manner in which the area has taken the brunt of the “activities” here. The grass is a little overgrown in places, certainly showcasing a little disuse or forgetfulness by whatever city or county maintenance crew that should be taking care of this area. When you step on to the bridge, you can certainly feel a part of the Goatman legend. There is certainly a presence located here, and is still quite strong, even in the daytime. Crossing over the bridge will place the traveller into a walking path that leads to a large gravel parking lot at the foot of the Pilot Knoll walking trail. By the way, on the opposite of the bridge – prior to walking over – is the trailhead for the Elm Fork trail which I did not walk along.
I walked along the Pilot Knoll trail for about two and a half miles. The terrain was a bit rocky in some places, and extremely deep sand in a few others. The trail is also covered in deep roots crossing in several places, so footing can sometimes be a little treacherous. Dressed in a t-shirt, jeans and tennis shoes – I found that I would have been better prepared with some hiking boots and a walking staff. The trail follows the edge of several fence lines for private property – including a pasture where a pregnant mare and some cows were located. At about the two and a quarter mile point, I found myself walking behind some extremely large houses – again with a defined fence line between what was the walking path and their property lines. Having not set myself up for a long walk (no water, no food stuffs), I turned back at this point and retraced my steps back to the Goatman’s Bridge and my Subaru Forester.
The entire time I was on the trail (approximately three hours), I encountered a total of seven people. Mostly runners, and a few walkers. But the area and the Path is mostly in the tree line. Very shaded, extremely quiet, and very open with the Spirits of the Land. For the most part, I was ignored by those Spirits I encountered. But I definitely got the feeling that there was a sense of being neglected by these Land here. When I made similar walks in Germany nearly a decade ago, I marveled at how clean the forest trails were. I was thoroughly disgusted at the amount of trash I encountered on my three hours on these trails. Again, there’s a lot of need for some cleanup here – and while a desire to cleanup is nice, a little bit of planning needs to be done on my part. I was also astonished at the lack of ANY garbage cans in the area as well, which in my opinion leads to a desire to just pitch the trash wherever as well.
While I do love walking in my local neighborhood, I do believe I will spend some time out on these trails in the very near future. Its very obvious that the Spirits are here – hemmed in a bit by the continuing growth of housing developments and the such. I will definitely be returning here again, perhaps with a handheld recorder to try and capture some of the lush sounds for a future podcast. Its adefinitely an area with a strong magickal presence…and a very good area for getting away from the feeling of suburbia without having to drive extremely long distances to do so.
Photos from my walk can be found at My Flickr Page.