Thursday, 18 April 2013

When a ghost lake appeared!

Lens flare lakeOccasionally there are ghostly reports involving not simply 'out of place' human or animal figures but whole landscapes (or parts of them), seemingly transformed. See this possible time slip report for instance. I had never experienced this myself nor expected to, it being an exceedingly rare phenomenon. But then ...

Recently, I was travelling on a train over a route I knew well from frequent use. I woke from a brief doze in time to see a familiar scene, approaching a station, with scattered trees, bushes and grass. In the middle of the trees there was a lake. I felt an odd sense of accomplishment as I'd never seen the lake from the train before in all the years I'd travelled that line. I knew the lake itself well, having visited it many times.

Then I had a weird feeling that something was not quite right! I realised there was a good reason for I'd never seen the lake from the train before. It was screened from view by a dense line of trees which were still very much in evidence! The place where I could see water was NOT part of the lake at all! It was flat and there was a line of willow trees along one side, marking the presence of a stream, but no lake. So what was going on?

One possibility was that the stream had flooded. However, I've never known this area to flood, even during the past twelve months of record-breaking exceptionally heavy rain. As it happened, that theory was discounted even before I lost sight of the scene. The 'lake' turned into the green grass that it really was before my eyes!

On the return journey over the same route I examined the 'lake' scene carefully. However, it stubbornly appeared only as grass without the merest hint of a body of water! So how on earth had I seen it unmistakably as a lake?

There are three possibilities that I can think of. Firstly, it could have been a mirage. Mysterious unknown bodies of water that later vanish often turn out to be mirages (see here). However, such mirages usually change shape if viewed from a moving vehicle and disappear gradually. This 'lake' vanished in its entirety in an instant. That points to one of the other two possibilities.

You will note that I had just woken from a brief snooze. It is, therefore, possible that this was a near sleep experience, specifically hypnagogia. But it also possible that the 'lake' could have been a misperception, the preceding snooze being merely a coincidence. However, that begs the question - a misperception of what? The only possibility is the grass itself, the willows along the stream perhaps adding to the impression of a lake. Well, I've never misperceived grass before and it strikes me as unlikely, particularly after re-examining the scene on the return journey. So I'm going with the hypnagogia theory for now.

Of course, seeing the odd out of place lake is hardly akin to a time slip experience. But it certainly part of the whole 'ghostly objects' realm of anomalous phenomena. It made me recall an experience I had in my mountaineering days. Back in the time before GPS, we had to use map and compass to navigate. My favourite trick was to study the contours on the map at the start and work out what my surrounding mountains ought to look like. From that I could usually accurately work out my position at any time without resorting to the map. However, the method failed spectacularly on one occasion when I managed to climb entirely the wrong mountain, only realizing my mistake when the real objective of the day became visible nearby! If I'd ever seen any 'ghost lake' on such trips, the whole method would have been useless.

PS: What I used to find my way is a type of 'contour navigating'. I wasn't aware, at the time, that it was a recognized.
PPS: I've noticed the phrase "... a weird feeling that something was not quite right ..." crops up a lot in my reports here!

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