I woke up restless throughout the night at Ermeline’s flat, a bit disturbed from a trilogy of nightmares I had.
It’s always the same. A man wearing a void white mask (he creeps me out so much that I don’t even want to mention his name on here) chases me around where ever my brain decides the hellish dream will take place: a restaurant, at school, my house, your house, McDonald’s—it doesn’t matter, he’s always there stalking me and chasing me around. Three nightmares in a row though?! I read that a sudden abundance of nightmares, among other oddities, are an omen to those who dare to enter Hoia-Baciu Forest. It just so happened that I felt adventurous enough to brave that forest the next day and it also just so happened that I had a weird assortment of murderous nightmares the night prior. However, I believed it was just a mere coincidence because anything can trigger a nightmare for me personally. I have them fairly often, actually.
I’ve never heard of Hoia-Baciu Forest, let alone know how to pronounce it correctly. Ermeline casually mentioned it to me a couple of days ago, when I asked her what there was to do in her city of Cluj. I knew this was something that I needed to explore. Fortunately, I wouldn’t be going alone. Clay was on board to check out the forest as well. Would I have done it by myself? If I’m being honest, probably not. I’m no fool.
We could have gone there during the early daylight hours, but I thought it would add to the experience, if we explored the forest a couple of hours just before the sun began to set. That way, to instill somewhat of a time limit or else we’d be lost in the darkness FOREVER! In reality, I was doubting this place was going to be even remotely spooky. It’s just a forest, after all.
Hours prior to our endeavor, I came across some interesting tidbits on the internet, rather superstitious reports of people who claimed to witness the strange and the unnatural while inside Hoia-Baciu Forest and from those who claim to know about the forest all too well. They say that the forest is sometimes referred to as the Bermuda Triangle of Romania. Those who enter too deep, especially during the darkness of the night, become lost for days upon days. The forest is known for severe paranormal activity. Cellular reception stops working and navigational equipment (GPS, compasses, etc) begin to malfunction and go haywire. Some people say they beckon intense feelings as if they were being watched the entire time in the forest. Some say they heard unsettling shrieks of female voices and giggling. Some even call it a portal to another dimension.
Strange paranormal phenomena has been recorded for more than 50 years in Hoia-Baciu Forest. Everything from leering green eyes that gaze at trespassers through the bush, figments of ghostly figures, poltergeists, and heavy black fog have been observed. People have said they would gradually feel feverish, find unexplainable rashes, scratches, burns, and develop nausea.
Of course, I don’t believe any of it.
Oddly enough though, I wanted to. I wanted my iPhone to go berserk in the forest. I wanted to feel as though someone was watching me. I wanted to see the green eyes and hear the voices. I wanted to experience all of it (minus the lost forever in the darkness part). I doubted any of this would happen but in the least I wanted SOMETHING strange to occur. Otherwise this would make for a pretty boring blog post.
Clay, Ermeline, and I spent most of the early day sight-seeing Cluj. Ermeline took us to a botanical garden near the university before we tried our fix with some local restaurants somewhere off. From there, Clay and I discussed what would be the best way to get into Hoia-Baciu Forest. The forest itself is situated just outside of Cluj and covers an area of over 250 hectares. We decided the cheapest and most direct option would be to summon an Uber. We told Ermeline we would meet her back in her flat by dusk, while Clay and I hopped into our Uber that drove us the distance.
I’m not sure how I was feeling. Anxious but incorruptible; I kept my hopes low. What a story it would be if we actually found or experienced something on the supernatural side of things! Our Uber driver never questioned our destination or why on Earth we would be going to this forest outside of Cluj. The road up the hill became less of a road and more of an obstacle course. He couldn’t drop us off at our destination pinpoint, because that pinpoint wasn’t very ideal for driving, so we stepped out once we were close enough and happily walked on foot the rest of the way. We didn’t have an Uber or any other sort of transportation for the ride back. Neither of us have any service in Romania. We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.
I readied my camera and found that before we entered the forest, we had to cross an empty field of grass, which looked to be stretch about 300 yards or so before we even came to a tree.
The weather, by the way, was calm and emotionless. Not hot nor cold. Faint wind and barely a hint of sunshine. Just a mute, gray-scale sky. The perfect setting for something like this, if you ask me.
And so we entered.
I guess my biggest concern (besides not seeing anything in the realm of abnormality) would be getting lost. According to my Google map, this forest was fairly large. And if by chance, our electronics did malfunction, we needed to keep our wits about our direction and pay attention to standout landmarks that we passed. If that didn’t work, then just go straight. We’d be bound to hit something, but then it’d be dark.
The forest itself was lifeless. No birds or small animals in sight. There were many scrawny trees scattered about, all bent irregularly at their base. Some say it was some form of dark energy that bent those trees. Science, please explain them to me. Why are they bent like this?
As we walked deeper into the woods, Clay and I came to a small, wooden…I don’t know what it was. A shack? A shrine? There was hay collected at the bottom of it. Maybe it’s a framework built for horses or mules to eat hay? Whatever it was, it was isolated in the middle of nothingness, inside the gloomy glint of the “world’s most haunted” forest that surrounded it.
We checked our phones. Yup, they still work. And no, I didn’t feel like I was being watched. We’re not deep enough. We pressed on and on. We split up but kept each other in visible view.
I looked up, down, and all around for anything strange and peculiar. Really ANYTHING that seemed out of the ordinary. No rashes, bruises, or scratches on my body. The only thing that achieved even the slightest thought was this tree or large branch, that was missing its bottom half. I didn’t mind it much.
I felt like I needed to explore fully and intently until I found SOMETHING that would keep me satisfied, but I was mindful of Clay. I’m sure he didn’t want to be walking around in this monotonous forest for too long, especially since he had a late train to catch back to his Peace Corp obligations in neighboring Moldova in just a few late hours.
I wish I could report something interesting for you readers or stretch this story on a bit, but there was NOTHING about that forest that seemed haunted besides the oddly shaped trees, which I’m sure Mother Nature has an explanation for. Perhaps I didn’t go deep enough? Maybe it’s after sunset when the weirdness begins. That has to be it. The forest was so large in fact, we barely scratched the surface of it. The World’s Most Boring Forest, would be more appropriate.
We did get a little misplaced on the way back but nothing to cause a fluster over. We eventually emerged back onto the plain, empty field. There were two random vehicles on opposite ends, that had no business being there. Like a splotch of blood in the middle of a snowfield. Possibly a fling of secret romances among the wheels? Or maybe people who were as curious as I was about Hoia-Baciu Forest. Hopefully they find more than I did.
Since Clay and I didn’t have any service, we decided just to walk back to Ermeline’s. It took an hour and then some, but we really had no choice. When we met up with her, she asked if we saw anything. Clay and I pretended that we would rather not talk about it, to chalk it up a bit. She’s so gullible. We kept it going for a bit until we came clean. We saw absolutely nothing.
I should mention, on the way through and out of the forest, I randomly snapped dozens and dozens of photos of everything nearby: the trees, the ground, more trees, without ever looking through the viewfinder. My hopes are to one day revisit those random photos and look at each individual one intently with the hopes of spotting something strange. A shadowy figure lurking between the trees? A creepy child that appeared out of nowhere that I wasn’t aware of before? A huff of black smoke shaped like a ghost? Anything unexplainable.
I have yet to look through them and I will wait a while until I do so.
Because if I did see anything chilling in the slightest, then I would have to go back to that forest immediately to find out more.