If a disembodied voice groans in the middle of the woods and nobody's around to hear it, does it make a sound? In the case of Saddle Peak Lodge, the answer is a resounding yes, and the inhuman shriek will be so dreadful that it will make you believe in life after death.
"I had a lady get so freaked out one night because she said something or someone brushed her soldier during dinner that her husband had to chime in and calm her down," says Adam, Saddle Peak Lodge's general manager, as he gets ready to leave for the night. He, along with a three other servers who wrapping up, seems a little eager to depart. "I've had managers who were here alone at night absolutely swear that this place is haunted. One of them saw a tea light candle light up by itself, and she ran out as soon as she realized that no one else was in the restaurant."
The restaurant certainly looks like it could be haunted, with all of its walls adorned with taxidermied mooses, birds, fish, and any other wild animal that you can kill for food. It could very easily be teleported to Disneyland and fit right in as an extension of the Haunted Mansion as-is.
This is my unadulterated account of staying overnight in the 100-year-old restaurant, or rather my attempt. I won't be gorging on Blue Mountain elk tenderloin, braised buffalo ribs, or any of Saddle Peak Lodge's other wild game-based dishes. Instead, I am joined yet again by Victor Huesca of the East LA-based paranormal research group Afterlife Frequencies (who came with me in last year's search for spirits at La Golondrina Mexican Cafe) and Hadley Tomicki, a fellow amateur ghost hunter desperate to find out if there is life after death. This year, we've brought along some extra help: Eli Bae, a professional psychic with 20 years of experience.
A week before Halloween, I carefully make my way through the ten-mile turnpike to the restaurant. When I finally arrive at 10 PM, my phone's signal suddenly disappears. By 11:30 PM, it's just Tomicki, Huesca, Bae, and me. We separate to cover more ground.
"Would anybody here like to say something to me?" I hear Tomicki say on the third floor.
"Can you please make a noise if you are here?" Huesca's voice echoes through to the second floor, where I am stationed and standing as still as a rock.
According to a printout that Adam handed me in the beginning of the night, "Numerous paranormal investigations conducted by paranormal specialists at the restaurant have shown that there at least five interacting energies present in the restaurant." The report also states that the restaurant's lobby is ground zero for paranormal activity. The main presence is allegedly a woman named Edith. The eeriest part of all of this is that Bae had picked up on those five energies—including the female presence—without even knowing about the printout.
Huesca, Bae, and myself somehow end up in the kitchen, which we all agree is the scariest place in the restaurant. Bae quietly says, "I'm sensing the energy of a woman who went through a lot of pain." Before Saddle Peak Lodge was a restaurant, it was a roadhouse, a stop for the Pony Express, a hunting lodge, a European auberge, and a bordello, so to find at least one spiritual energy who refused to rest in peace in its 100-year history would not be out of the question.
As we pass through the kitchen's swinging door, the three of us hear a woman scream. The sound lasts for less than a second, feeling distant and close at the same time. We all look at each other with our eyes wide, realizing that there is nothing else in the kitchen.
We stay very quiet and push the swinging door open, hoping to hear something again, but there is nothing.
"I think the energies are resting now," Bae says around 2 AM. After that, we pack our stuff and start making our way out.
While the woman's voice was crystal clear to the three of us, I feel another session is in order soon. Maybe I can come earlier next time, and join the restless energies for dinner.