I am an American currently living with my Bosnian wife in Sarajevo. Not long ago we became interested in mountaineering and on February 9, 2008 we joined about seven others for a hike up a nearby mountain. We took a train to a village at the base of the mountain and from there went by foot.
Besides my wife, I knew only one other girl in the group, but got to know everyone else as we hiked about seven kilometers to our destination, a mountain lodge set in an isolated area. There were no roads to this place and the quickest way up was a four hour trek through the woodlands along a steep, winding, snow-covered path.
The trip up was rough and soon we left the damp, green fields of the village below and found ourselves struggling through snow that sometimes came to our hips.
I was amazed at how beautiful everything was but happy when we turned a bend, went up yet another slope, and finally caught sight of the building we would spent the night in.
The place was nice considering we were roughing it for the weekend. We entered into a spacious room with tables and benches situated along the walls. In one corner we warmed our clothes and boots by a hot, wood-burning stove while warming ourselves with Bosnian coffee, hot tea, and good conversation.
A short hallway just off of the main room led to the bathroom which had three sinks and four stalls with doors. Next to the bathroom, a set of stairs led up to the rooms we would be sleeping in.
We found out there was no electricity for the place, so we would be using flashlights and lanterns for the evening.
Besides the group I came with, there were two girls who ran the kitchen, two men who did maintenance on all the nearby lodges who happened to be there for the night, and a couple who came in right after us. Although we came at separate times, everyone got along well and, for that night, became one group.
Below the lodge at a distance was a small village that was deserted at the time, only used for the summer months. There were about seven snow-covered buildings that consisted of houses and barns. An empty swing in one yard swayed back and forth with the force of the driving wind.
A storm was coming so some of the others decided to hike around a bit, explore the village below, or take photos before it was too late to do so.
With everyone gone, I decided to take the bags my wife and I brought with us to our room and have a look upstairs. All our rooms were situated at the top of the stairs. To the right of our rooms was a hallway the length of the lodge with about six doors on each side of it.
I dumped off the bags, went down the hall, and tried to look out the frost covered window at the far end.
While looking out the window, I heard someone whisper, "Ne znam (I do not know) "and "Uskoro, ne sada (soon, not now) ". They repeated this several times, but I could not find the source of the voice. I went back down, not feeling weird, but embarrassed that I had most likely stumbled along a few guests having a private conversation.
I was surprised, though, to find everyone in the main room talking or just outside the window, having returned to the site and taking more photos.
Soon the storm took full effect and everyone came if for the night. Although it was getting dark fast, there was still enough light out to see, so I spent time at the window enjoying the view.
As I looked down at the village, I could make out a man standing near one of the houses. He was completely still for some time, then walked about 20 yards and stopped. I could barely make out the sight of him placing his hands on his hips and turn his waist, as if looking around.
After talking with my wife for a few minutes, I returned to the window and the man was in his original position. Suddenly he turned toward the lodge, seemed to look up, and waved.
For some reason, I pulled back from the window and hid behind the wall. Looking back out, I saw that the man had faced away from us again and stood motionless; seemingly watching the snow beat upon the walls of the empty houses around him.
I told our guide about our unannounced visitor and soon everyone was looking out the window down at the tiny shape among the houses. The kitchen girls resided in the lodge and said none of the villagers ever came back until spring and, besides those of us already in the building, no one had called in earlier to announce they were coming, as it was customary to do.
It seemed there was no emergency, so rather than hike down and see if he was ok, our guide suggested we just leave the door unlocked for a while in case he came up for shelter.
I looked down one more time and there he was, standing in the same spot he had been in for about an hour. Eventually the storm came in force and outside became pitch black. No lights could be seen below and no one ever came to the door.
About an hour after everyone was settled in the main room eating and talking, we heard stomping coming from upstairs. It was in the area our rooms were at. Everyone was accounted for so one of the maintenance men went up; sporting a headband with a light attached to it, and checked everything out. He found nothing.
One of the men had lit a dim lamp and everyone gathered at two of the tables near it. A few people were drinking Sarajevsko beer and someone had brought a bottle of domestic brandy to warm us up. I had neither of these spirits but was getting comfortable and drowsy nonetheless, so decided to go to the bathroom before going upstairs to bed.
In the bathroom, I navigated my way to one of the stalls and went in. The toilets were of the European type; basins built into the floor with a hole in the middle. Even with my small flashlight I could hardly see so, hoping my aim was true, I went at it.
Just after finishing, a glow of light appeared in the cracks around the door. I flushed and went out to find a lady standing at the door holding a candle. I was caught still zipping up so was a bit embarrassed but said hello. She just smiled, nodded, and placed the candle on the glass shelf above the middle sink.
I left her doing that and sat down with my wife again. About five minutes later it dawned on me that I had never seen her before... She was not one of us.
My wife thought I was mistaken, that it was probably one of the kitchen girls, but I know it was not. This lady was older and after that incident in the bathroom I never saw her again.
I never said anything to the others, but I did hear them wondering who it was that was kind enough and smart enough to have put a candle in the bathroom. No one claimed to have done it.
Soon my wife and I were in our frigid room, wrapped in sleeping bags, trying to sleep. While she nodded off, I did a crossword puzzle by the light of my flashlight and listened as the conversation downstairs got more and more animated. It seemed one of the girls had had her fair share of the brandy.
I dozed off and awoke when I heard everyone coming up the creaky stairs to bed. I fell back asleep only to wake up later having to go down to the bathroom again. It was freezing and I quickly did my duty and hurried up to my room and into my sleeping bag.
Before I could drift off into slumber, a light outside our door got my attention. The top of the door consisted of a pane of hazy glass and through this I saw the blur of a bright light come from around the hallway, pass my door, and then go down the stairs. A few minutes later it came back up and turned into the hallway again.
I thought little of this until later when I realized four things were wrong with this scene. First, this light was much brighter than the lamp or any other lights used that night. Second, it was gliding, rather than moving as if held by a hand. Third, it moved much too fast to be someone who had just gotten up for a quick trip downstairs and was unfamiliar with the place. And fourth, there was no noise whatsoever, and those steps were very noisy.
Tired from our trip up, I finally fell back asleep and woke up much too early. We went down and had coffee with the others and soon were preparing for our trip down. Another storm was coming so we had to cancel any other plans.
I never mentioned what I saw and heard to the others, but as we made our way back down the mountain, our guide said that a few strange things had happened to him years ago at that same lodge although he never did elaborate as to what they were.
Just over a hill from where we had spent the night, he pointed toward some woods and said they were known to be haunted. This could easily have been a small story to add some flare to the trip, but he told us with a straight face and I did notice that although our route would have been much easier going through those woods, it took a wide arc around them.
Regardless of whether those woods are truly haunted, I do know there is something strange about the lodge. Even my wife, who is completely uninterested in those type of things admitted that she felt strange there and could not explain away many of the things I experienced. The lodge did not scare me much, although it should have since it was kind of creepy. I was just confused as to what was going on and was trying to enjoy the trip.
We plan on making hiking a hobby so someday we may find ourselves at that isolated mountain lodge again. If so, I will be a bit more prepared for all the outsiders who decide to join our party.