Michele Stump's Story of Covelo Shadow People

My alarm sounds at 5:30 a.m. on Saturday morning. It is unnatural to do this. I should be selfishly sleeping.

As the staunch skeptic in this enthusiastic group, I felt that this trip might be my stellar opportunity to really experience a paranormal encounter. As the historic researcher for HPI, I had studied our suspect location for this scouting mission. I must admit that I had my reservations. I have always been superstitious about Indian ghosts. As I read the bloody history of Covelo and the heinous treatment of the native people of Northern California, I felt a bit weary about the whole thing. Despite my apprehension, my love of the paranormal prevailed and I set out on what would be my first glimpse into a supernatural world.

A friend of a fellow group member lost his life along the nervously winding stretch of Highway 162. We pulled over to observe a makeshift memorial to the young man that is so tragically mourned. I see a rushing river with water so clear, that I could see the bottom. I noticed that the horizon just a yard off the ground looked rippled. It appeared to be a heat wave, only it was December, and too cold to give off heat from the ground. I observed this several times throughout the trip. Curious.

I read about a miner and settler, Frank Asbil, who hiked over a ridge to look for his horses. He looked down to see a lush green valley surrounded by majestic mountain ranges. He was breath taken by its beauty and named it Eden Valley because it was so beautiful, like Heaven on Earth. I was stunned by the sight of it myself. In my busy life, I seldom get to gaze at the awe of God’s creation around me. Holly commented that the oaks in the valley are some of the oldest in the world. The thought is profound.

It was ironic that this vast land of prosperity and beauty would turn from Heaven to Hell in a span of 150 years. Stepping upon the ground of the Round Valley, this Eden seemed change shape. I felt heavy, drained. I felt sad.

What would a scouting mission be without a romp through a cemetery? We walked through the “White Man’s" Cemetery first. I was snapping some pictures when I heard something land on the ground beside me. I looked up to see clear sky. The oaks don’t drop their acorns this late in the year, do they? It sounded bigger than that. Could it have been a rock? Was there something throwing rocks at me? I couldn’t be sure. It could have been anything.

On our stop at the cemetery, we were told a sad story about this region by one of the Native locals, Angie. She told a story of utter anguish and despair. Her Grandfather was marched into the valley and suffered torture and brutality that not even a dog could have been treated so badly. The women were raped, babies killed, beatings, scalpings, starvation, HORROR! What wasn’t violent and inhumane, was the agony of diseases. Angie’s grandfather succumbed to smallpox. The generations that followed would suffer another disease.

Alcoholism is prevalent in Covelo. The Indians of the Round Valley are losing their land because of debts on alcohol. They blame the White Man for introducing the poison to them. I have heard Indians refer to alcohol as “Fire Water". According to Angie, alcohol is way of life for many. I observed a little of this when I wandered through town. The people on the reservation are still suffering oppression, resentment, and abandonment. In listening to her story, I couldn’t help but to silently cry. How in the world could all of this have happened…here? The town of Covelo holds a remembrance to those that died marching 140 miles to the Round Valley, the trap that would taint this land. The event, the Nome Cult Walk, is one that Angie never attended. She weeps when she explains that the experience would be just too painful for her.

We had a busy day and darkness was beginning to fall upon this already eerie and disturbing area. We retreated to our camp. During our break, Nicole and I were sitting in the car talking when I saw a small shadow running very fast in the meadow beside us. I continued to talk to her dismissing the event; my eyes must be playing tricks on me. I continued to see about three more. Nicole said that she saw a shadow pass behind the car through the rear view mirror. The specters seemed to be closer. I began to feel uneasy.

Then both of us turned to each other at the same time and said, “Did you see that?" We saw a larger shadow just ten feet from the car. I saw “creatures" about three to four feet tall, very thin, long arms and ran very fast. It seemed to be mechanical, think “The Day After Tomorrow" and its over exaggerated, sped up cinematography. They were humanoid but too short and fast to be human. Now look, I am a severe skeptic. I am not psychic by any means. I am learning how to open my mind to changes and fluctuations of energy in my atmosphere. My body detects physical reactions to paranormal activity such as feeling cold, sick, or chills. I am alert to the surrounding sounds and smells, though I rarely get a sensation. I am usually convinced that a plausible explanation is behind just about every haunting. I do not talk about what I thought that I saw unless I am absolutely sure.

Nicole and I decided that we should try and get out of the car. When I opened the passenger door, another shadow was about 15 feet from me standing in front of a beam. He was taller, stockier, and had his hands on his hips. I jumped, not expecting that anyone was standing there. It was later that I heard the story of a suicide that occurred on the property. I believe that I saw a ghost. As for the other activity in the meadow, I really have no idea. I have been thinking intently about it and have philosophies and theories, some plausible, some not. Indians are known to change shape into wolves and birds. Perhaps this was some form of lycanthropy. Maybe it was aliens, though I doubt that one. Were they demons, faeries, residual activity, or my eyes playing tricks… I have more questions than answers.

We visited a home in Covelo that was over a hundred years old. It was explained that a family lived there that had to sell their daughter to come there. The grieving mother’s presence is felt in the back room. I did not feel any spirits at this place but when I stepped into the older part of the home, I felt like I was on an elevator. I felt light and then a sinking sensation. I felt like I was sinking. Was I feeling the pull of a vortex? There were a few times that I felt off balance throughout the trip, especially when I was walking near the river on a path that was one of the routes to the valley on the “Death March" where the natives of the land were led into a trap that would strip their dignity, peace, and spirit and plague them with everlasting pain.

It took me a day to recover from the trip. I felt very drained and dazed. Now, I feel humbled by the experience in that I am now sure that there is a force far greater than I am. I reflect on the beautiful lush green land surround by ominous mountains that harbors deep scars, forever etched in time, dark and dismal, mysterious, and beautiful. I hope to return to Covelo. As a historian and a fascinated lover of all things that are scary, and strange, I hope to camp in that meadow and learn more about the mystery of that place.

On another note, of the two spiritual missions that HPI has performed, members have lost jewelry. I lost my wedding ring at Shasta and Nicole Pollard lost a silver earring in Covelo. This was an odd coincidence to me. I want to thank Holly and Nicole for introducing us to a very haunted location.

Contributed by Michele Stump Historian/Researcher/Investigator HPI Paranormal www.HPIparanormal.net and Copyright © 2007 all rights reserved. No part of this story may be used without permission.

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