Leave it to me to encounter a ghost in the middle of a state park during off-season. Spring Mill State Park is one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited. In the picture, you can see the trail heading out of Donaldson Cave, which meanders along a creek. My sister, her girlfriend and I were walking this trail, on a Monday in mid-May 2015, and the park was pretty much deserted. I was in the lead. I started to smell really strong perfume. The woods were silent, except for water trickling and birds chirping. I came around a corner, half expecting to see a group of tourists, and the woman that was guilty of wearing an awful lot of perfume. To my surprise, there was no one. When I mentioned it to Cathy and Karla, they admitted they were smelling it too.
Cathy said, "You know, that's not perfume. That's musk, like a man's cologne. Definitely musk."
I agreed. Extremely puzzled by where the smell could be coming from (as we were still walking, and it was with us at the same intensity), we stopped and examined our surroundings. There was one flowering tree, and one wildflower on the trail. Neither had a scent. Steep ravines angled up on both sides of us, and we were down in a gully. No one could get to where we were without taking a long and arduous set of steps down the side of the ravine, some ways back.
Ever the skeptic, I said, "Maybe someone dropped a bottle of cologne on the trail."
Cathy reasoned, "Who would be packing cologne in a backpack to go hiking?"
I also wondered, if they spilled cologne on the trail, why we would smell it for such a long distance. It had rained at 3:00 p.m. It was 4:30 p.m. Wouldn't the rain have washed it away?
Out of answers, I suggested, "Well, maybe its a ghost."
We continued on, and immediately around the next corner, there sat a monument to Alexander Wilson, the famous ornithologist, (erected by George Donaldson, who owned and preserved the land in the early 1800s). It looked like a gravestone, and had the year he died 1813 etched into it. There was a small iron fence around the stone. We continued to smell the musk cologne all around the "grave" monument. As soon as we left the area, however, the smell vanished. We continued to hike all of the trails in the park, and never came across the smell a second time. Karla and Cathy retraced the path a few days later, and the smell was gone. (I did see a spirit by the monument, but disregarded it, because it did not look like the picture of Wilson on the plaque at all).
Note: After researching "musk cologne", I found it was something created in the early 1800s, and worn by men during that time. Prior to that, men wore essential oils, such as clove. Hmmm...
Anyone have any other explanations?
Update: I tried to talk to a man by the stream, and it didn't look like the photo of Wilson on the plaque, so I disregarded it. Now, I am wondering if it was not Wilson, but Donaldson I saw, as the man had slightly curly, unruly hair, and was wearing a leather vest. Here is a link to information about the virgin forest Donaldson preserved: http://pwp.franklincollege.edu/AMORRIS/Virtual%20Tour/Virtual%20Tour%20Donaldson%20Woods.html
Here is the only "photo" I could find of Donaldson...and this is the color of the vest I saw, and looks like the spirit that was standing next to the monument!