Her sister’s cold hand was pressing against her shoulder. She had followed her into the trail to keep an eye on her, but her eyes widened when she spotted the book. She wasn’t the only one who felt drawn to the artifact.
The woods were dark, but the girls sat near the trail and decided to open up the old relic together. When they saw the haunting photos the old photo album held, they quickly got up and felt the urge to get off the trail as fast as possible. They started looking for a way home.
A Lengthy Trail
There is a trail that almost every American knows about running in the Appalachian mountains for thousands of miles. But there is a dark side of the trail that everyone avoids talking about.
Thousands of excited hikers go out and explore this trail each year. Considering this trail is long enough to span over multiple states, it makes sense that there is a bit of darkness competing with the light.
Sisters Who Explore
Harper’s Ferry, Virginia, was home to Annie and Lisa Edwards, who lived with their mother. They were in their teen years now and had loved growing up in the small but significant section of the Appalachian Trail.
The two of them had a love for losing themselves in nature and exploring forgotten places. They never listened to their mother when she warned them how dangerous going off the trail was, but a day would come when they wished they had.
April was sunny, and Annie’s birthday was coming soon. For as long as she could remember, she had walked this trail with her mother and her sister, Lisa, and she was growing tired of the constant supervision.
She was turning 18 and looking forward to the day she was considered an adult. She knew they couldn’t complain then, but she would be walking into something she never expected when her birthday rolled around.
Annie’s 18th birthday arrived, and she celebrated it in the morning with her mother and 22-year-old sister. She tore open her presents and was ecstatic when she opened her brand new pair of hiking boots.
She looked at her sister, who winked at her. She would soon put her new boots to the test, but she was like many others who were oblivious to the trail’s dark secrets.
Ignoring Her Mother
The morning celebrations ended, and Annie quickly put on her new boots. She bounced excitedly when she told her mother that she was heading out to the trail. Her mother was upset when she suggested that she go alone.
Annie knew that her mother could not forbid her anymore despite it being 5 PM and that it would be dark within the next hour. She walked to the trail, ignoring her mother’s wishes and concern for her, but she did so without realizing she was being followed.
Annie didn’t notice her sister was following her. Lisa wanted to ensure her sister’s safety but had stayed a ways back so that Annie could experience the sense of freedom she craved so desperately.
But there was no way of knowing that her sister, Annie, would come across an old relic that should have been left undiscovered. It would be too late by the time Lisa caught up.
The smell of the woods and the crunching gravel beneath her feet gave Annie the feeling of freedom she needed. That’s how she felt at first, but as it grew dark, the trees grew sinister looking, and she regretted walking alone.
Her footsteps sounded too loud for her ears, and she worried that she was drawing attention to herself. The dark was making it difficult to see the trail, but something caught her eye, despite being half covered by the bushes.
When talking about the Appalachian trail, many were unaware of the brave people who had walked the path alone and gone missing. Only 11 bodies had been found out of all the missing cases since 1974. The others seemed to have disappeared without a trace.
Many have gone on to tackle the trail, never to be seen again. Annie never considered the path wasn’t as safe as the Harper’s Ferry community made it seem.
Annie experienced a strange sensation once she left the trail to pick up the book. She saw that it was an old photo album containing an extensive history. She couldn’t tell how old it was.
Her mind flooded with questions. Who did it belong to? Why had it been in the bushes and away from the trail? Her thoughts grew worrisome. Just then, she felt a hand on her shoulder and spun around.
Just Her Sister
The cold hand on her shoulder was only her sister’s. She had followed her off the trail to make sure she was alright. But when her eyes glanced at the book, they grew wide. Clearly, she felt the draw of the artifact too.
The girls sat in the dark woods off the trail and opened the old photo album together. But once they saw the haunting photos within, they leaped up to try and find their way back home. They needed to get out of the trail as soon as they could.
Black And White
The photos inside the book were black and white. There was a military man in a lot of the snapshots, and that’s when they knew the book had to be older than their mother. They felt an eerie sense of dread and decided it best to examine the book back home.
The two got back on the trail and headed home. But once they were in the comfort of their dining room, they still didn’t understand what they possessed.
Samuel J. Baily
The book had dozens of photos in it. They soon understood that the album belonged to a man named Samuel J. Baily. He had signed his name in a few of the photos and even written it on the inside cover.
The sisters got a clearer picture of what they had the more they looked through all of the images. They showed the life of a man who had been born more than a hundred years ago.
The images told the sisters that Baily was a military man. He must have brought a camera with him on tour. A lot of the photos were marked 1941. There were snapshots of him and his squad, an old military airplane, and more. The twins grew attached to the man’s life, turning each page in the album like a chapter in his life.
They found photos of a young woman holding a baby near the end. It must have been his wife and child. But they had no idea how sad the truth was.
Finding Its Owner
After a lot of calls, they managed to find the closest living relative to Baily. The baby in the photo is now an 83-year-old woman named Dorothy Baily. She was surprised to hear from them. But even more surprised to hear about her album.
She explained that it was, in fact, her father’s and that she lost it years ago while on the trail. She brought it with her on the trail to feel like her father was still with her. But she was over the moon to know it was safe. She arranged to meet the family so she could get her book back and thank them personally.
In order to protect the privacy of those depicted, some names, locations, and identifying characteristics have been changed and are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblances to actual events or places or persons, living or dead, are entirely coincidental.