Oct 09, 2015, just outside of Cluj-Napoca, Romania.

Day 8 of our 10 day adventure through Paris and Romania. This, was bucket list night.

For a paranormal team, or really for anyone interested in the supernatural, having the rare opportunity to spend an evening exploring the infamous Hoia Baciu forest was an experience that is very difficult to put into words…but I shall do my best.

Hoia, meaning plains and Baciu, meaning shepherd, translates into plains of the shepherd. The legend of the forest begins with a shepherd tending his flock. His excursion took him through the Hoia Baciu forest where it is said that he and his entire flock of sheep, vanished with no trace. Never to be seen again. Another legend has a five year old girl venturing into the forest. She disappeared only to re-emerge years later, unaged. People have reported seeing strange lights, UFOs, aliens, ghosts, Bigfoot, you name it. The energy surrounding this forest is palpable. The center of the forest is a round clearing where nothing but grass grows. Some have reported that there is radioactive energy in the center.

Night had fallen in this mysterious and beautiful part of the world. I could feel the anticipation and sheer excitement building for the events that were to come in a few short moments. We met our guide, Alex, at the historic Cluj Opera House. Being an aficionado of older architecture and historic sites, our chosen meeting place seemed an appropriate venue to begin our journey. We began our 45 minute trek around 9pm; finally arriving at our destination just before 10pm. Excitedly jumping out of the van, I nearly busted my behind due to not checking the surface of the “road” before stepping onto it. Nothing but mud. Nevertheless, the built up anticipation and elation for being in this location seemed to explode…

And then I saw it.

A ghost? No. Bigfoot? No. Aliens? No. A huge hill that seemed to go straight up into the heavens with all sorts of dips and miniature cliff like indentions in the earth. Keep in mind, by this point in our trip, we had already hiked about 42 miles and climbed roughly 2,000, if not more, steps. I was exhausted even looking at it, however, pure adrenaline kicked in and we trooped it up the “hill”. Now I’m not saying that we didn’t stop several times along the way. We needed to hear some of Alex’s stories and it was much easier to talk without walking. Wink, wink.

After what seemed like hours of sloshing through ankle deep mud, we finally reached the summit. Pausing a moment to catch our breaths, Alex regaled our group with a tale of a mysterious light phenomenon that had occurred in the very same area we were now standing. According to him, he and a friend were hiking out of the forest, so late in the evening it was almost early. Fresh snow had covered the ground and the clouds were low hanging. As they left the cover of the forest, the light spectrum changed from a white light to an orange light. In this light, Alex said he felt very uncomfortable, that something unnatural was occurring. His friend experienced the same event. The other two hikers, following them, said they neither saw nor felt anything out of the ordinary. No natural explanation has presented itself.

We filmed our goofy intro and then headed into the forest. To my memory, the clearing was not that far away, however, we walked around the outskirts of it, seeing all of the crazy tree formations and hearing more of the history of the forest. I believe we did a full loop of the circle before we entered it. Upon entering the clearing, we saw a group of gentleman had set up camp in the center. They had erected several tents, had a nice camp fire going, complete with hotdogs, various other meats….and swords. Laura’s bionic hearing picked up an American accent so we ventured over to the camp site to have a chat. Now, up until this point, I had not experienced any uneasiness or anything supernatural. As we drew closer to the group, you could feel that we were not welcome there. The guys were pleasant enough and told us they had been there for 3 days praying and fasting to rid the forest of any evil or supernatural entities. Their reasoning being that it was better for the community. Typically, I would have made my opinion of such an audacious act known and perhaps had a good debate, however, they had swords and I had a kitchen knife. Our guide, Alex, was so nervous he actually stood behind us. Though in his defense, he had encountered them earlier on when they were doing their rituals and was not a fan of us chatting them up. Understandable.

We left our swordsmen and headed off back into the forest. The deeper we got, the more turned around we got until we eventually had to stop to get our bearings. It was, at this point, where the only paranormal event took place. While Alex was trying to figure out where the road was, we were taking pictures and just chatting. Nothing out of the ordinary, just the feeling of a nice stroll through the woods. The next moment, silence. Everything went completely still, unnaturally still. An eerie presence enveloped the area around us. We stood, motionless, as though trapped in a vacuum. A white mist began to form around us. Normally, I would not have given this a second thought given the cold, wet conditions we were in, but this mist was only around my group and nowhere else. We were being watched. We began seeing shadow figures darting in and out of the trees, never confronting us but letting us know they were there. Staying close enough to make our skins crawl. It felt as though time had ceased to exist. What were mere moments in reality seemed an eternity in our minds. And then it stopped. It had vanished as quickly as it had come upon us.

Gathering our senses, we continued on. The road appeared before us, very close to where our strange event had occurred. Odd that we had not seen it. What happened next was something that I will never forget. Walking along the road, no one was speaking. It was late, we were muddy and tired. Our encounter had left us somewhat drained. I was in the rear of the group, trudging along. I kept getting this nagging feeling that something was watching me. I took a few more steps and stopped abruptly. I shined my flashlight directly to my left and there was a deer standing approximately 50 feet from me, staring at me. I know that doesn’t exactly scream paranormal, but the way this deer was looking at me was strange. What also struck me as peculiar was the fact that I had heard no movement, seen no movement and yet was able to pin point this deer’s exact location in a split second with some sort of other sense. I can still see this deer’s gaze in my mind’s eye, even today.

We explored the forest for a bit longer. No more exciting events happened, save for me talking Laura and Tonya out of doubling back and seeing what the swordsmen were up to…images of beheadings were dancing through my head. Heading back down to the van, we paused when we left the forest cover. Stepping out of the forest, a peace came over me. We were looking down upon the lights of Cluj, such a wondrous site. It was calm. Hiking back down the hill, I do not recall any of us falling, which is a miracle in and of itself. We dropped Alex back off and headed over to McDonald’s where I learned that “fast food” is not taken literally in Romania.

Though we were unable to really investigate the clearing, as we had hoped to do, we walked away with a sense of satisfaction. Something happened to us during our adventure. Can I explain what it truly was? No. But the experience of it all proved to be an amazing, bucket list journey that we one day hope to revisit.