Sunday, February 24, 2008

Black Star Canyon: Ghosts in the Rain

Out of all the days this week, Sunday was the least suitable for a long trail run. But we got out there bright and early anyways. Initially we planned on running in Crystal Cove but figured if rangers evicted us when we came down to PCH, it could be pretty tricky to get back to the Ridge Park. So we picked a different location – Black Star Canyon that never gets closed rain or shine. Although there was a bunch of runners ready to run El Moro despite rain and rangers, Jeff was the only one who showed up Black Star Canyon. Jeff mentioned that Black Star has a bad reputation because of the local ghosts, dark cults and squatters (more about it below).

When we started at 6am today it was still dark and drizzling a little bit with the temperatures in mid forties. Still it was as muddy and slippery as the previous time when we ran there.

At some point we found a rusty piece of ancient machinery where I left one of my four clothing layers.

The 8-mile ascent proved I have not fully recovered from Orange Curtain yet: I did run all the way up, but it was more difficult than the last time. After our previous run in the Black Star, several people mentioned that we should have made a stop in the hut on the top to warm up before the decent. I guess we found the hut this time: not exactly my definition of hospitality.

Around mile 6 we ran into a cloud and drizzling turned into some more serious rain with heavy wind. So we would not mind a hut with a roof up there :)

We ended up running 16.1 miles today, which took us 2h 55min. Despite my 2 upper supposed-to-be weatherproof layers I ended up soaked to the bones just like the previous time.

I just did a quick research about Black Star Canyon and ghosts in it. Yup, there is no way something having "black" in the title could have gone unnoticed by all of those hunted websites.

Black Star Canyon - The site of multiple Indian massacres dating back to the time of Spanish occupation, Blackstar Canyon is home to many strange phenomena. Indians said to have been spotted both roaming the ridges on horseback and walking the creek for a few steps before disappearing completely. Many night hikers report the feeling of being watched, and the sounds of an invisible presence pacing them shortly off the trail. Screams and howls haunt the night along with the faint chants of an age and people long past. Note: If you are planning an expedition to Blackstar Canyon, travel in groups as it is a very dangerous place, and pay no mind to the homemade "Private Property" signs. The Orange County Sheriffs Office has confirmed that all of the trail is in fact open to the public, and those signs were hung some time ago by squatters attempting to keep people off the land.

Enter “Black Star Canyon” into Google, and the first hit that comes up is a site called, which tells a first-person story of rabbits that won’t die—even when shot at close range—and shadowy figures who may be the specters of Spanish conquistadors believed to have slaughtered the indigenous inhabitants back in 1832 (it used to be called CaƱada de los Indios). Others tell tales of seeing UFOs and KKK meetings; the canyon is listed on the Shadowlands national index of haunted places
But the dangers aren’t merely supernatural: Some less-than-benevolent local residents often aggressively dispute the idea that the canyon road is public property. It is, and you’re entitled to go through, should you so desire; explain this calmly if confronted.

Black Star Canyon - It's located behind Irvine park and the signs that say "no authorities will help you beyond this point" is a main reason why people don't go in. It's supposed to be home of the "KKK" and strange sightings and noises are heard such as running and screaming. Also lion type figures are said to be walking on the mountain tops. "Warning" If you do plan to go take flashlights because it's is freakishly dark (a sort of weapon would also be a good idea)

I am not sure about the ghosts. The whole subject is questionable but I somehow do not believe in them. Nevertheless there is some truth in all those hunted stories.

When they say that "strange sightings and noises are heard such as running and screaming" they did not lie. After running through the mud and puddles both Jeff and I looked pretty strange – you should have seen those foamy bubbles on Jeff’s knees as if he does not looks strange enough without them. As for running and screaming, it is totally us two running downhill trying not to fall down into one of those puddles on the slippery trail.

Still I am not arguing Black Star Canyon can be very scary. Here is a Blair-Witch-project-style home movie made there. I guess it is all a function of alcohol and hash consumption after all.


olga said...

Oh, how I dread the return of rain again...we were so spoiled for 3 weeks straight!

Stephanie said...

oh, just my type of an adventure. nothing better than exploring abandoned the!

Anonymous said...

"and the sounds of an invisible presence pacing them shortly off the trail"

Back around 1987 I had an experience in that area while mountain biking during the day time along a ridge. I was going uphill and there were some thick dry bushes to my left. I couldn't see inside the bushes.

I began to hear clicking noises inside the bushes. I noticed that the noises were always directly to my left, even though I was riding. The noises followed me, kind of like it was intelligent and trying to scare me. The clicks grew more frequent. I soon realized this was not an insect or animal, as there were too many clicks.

I had been riding the local canyons every day for about a year and had never heard this before. If it was an insect, I would have run into this before.

I still remember how freaky the whole thing was. I rode a couple of hundred times out there before I ran into something weird like this. Not a very common thing, obviously.

The only other strange event that happened was toward the entrance of Holy Jim Canyon, from the paved road. I thought i was about to pass through a cloud of smoke from a fire burning on the side of the dirt road, when I was instead engulfed by a swarm of thousands of bumble bees while riding. That's impossible since bumble bees have nests no larger than 100 bees. These were in the tens of thousands. I rode right through them (very quickly for about 1/8th of a mile). And not one bee sting. Very very odd indeed.