HANCOCK -- The legend of Jericho Valley is shrouded in mystery and debate. According to legend, a devastating disease seeped into the valley floor, pushing farmers higher into the hills. Sheep farming, a more prosperous livelihood back then, took a hit, as many sheep were abandoned by their farmers, left to survive "the almost certain death that the valley floor held for them."
Each fall, on 13 different nights, the sheep would disappear into the hills at dusk, only to return the next morning unscathed.
Now, Jiminy Peak asks: Were they running away from something, or toward something else? Were they lured into the hills, or scared away by something in the depths of Jericho Valley?
13 Nights at Jiminy, a haunted venture within the resort, aims to answer these questions.
Recommended for ages 10 and up, 13 Nights is one haunted experience that you can take or leave.
Attending this past weekend, in the rain, was a bit confusing for someone who had done some research before heading into the depths of Jiminy. But let me guide you through my evening in the hills.
First, I hit up Christiansen's Tavern for a drink before the tours begin, which is around 6:30 p.m. The lodge-like bar was nice enough, with a friendly waitstaff to greet you. I don't recommend mixed drinks, as my old fashioned tasted like watered-down fruit punch. But I do recommend a beer from John Harvard's mix.
Around 7 p.m., I headed back to the ticketing area, where the tour starts. Eventually, a small group of us formed and we were greeted by a female clown with crazy makeup. She welcomed us as her victims and began telling us the story of the disease-ridden Jericho Valley and the sheep and the mystery. And that's the last I heard of the story ever again.
The girl clown then guided us through a door next to the restrooms and we were welcomed by a man clown named Zeke. He creepily asked my name, and I being a sucker for haunted houses nervously gave it to him. After a few weird cackles, he told us to run. So we walked to the next area, only to be greeted and quickly ushered out by two more scary-ish clowns.
The creepier stop, of which we had to ask directions from a peak police officer, was the hospital. After waiting about 10 minutes in the rain with no actual good cue from the man behind this door, our group decided to go in anyway. I'm still not sure if we were supposed to get frustrated and head in, or if this man was actually trying to lure us in by running away and shouting something about Tasers and restless patients turned escapees.
Now it gets creepy, but still no Jericho sheep history. Hospitals are pretty creepy in the first place, and when you add deranged patients with blood all over them to the mix, I, for one, get spooked.
The best part of the haunted resort is riding up the mountain on the ski lift. Even with rain pricking my face, the view was both eerie and amazing. After some time, we reached the top and headed into a field, where things emerged from the side of the road, chainsaws screamed and our boots slid in the mud. There was one funny man in a tunnel of heads who came at us with a goofy grin that said "I'm totally here to scare you youngsters!" Good for a laugh before the chainsaw and half-bodied man tries to hack your head off or grab your legs.
Back down the mountain for one last camouflaged scare from a gatekeeper and you're done. That is unless you get the Scare & Scream package ($37), which I definitely did.
This consists of one ride on the Giant Swing and one ride on the Soaring Eagle zip line. The Giant Swing was actually pretty fun, and the ride operator was cool, even though he operated everything with a single flashlight. Where are the lights, Jiminy? You're operating machinery in the dark? I was a bit wary of the ride, but all went well.
But the zip line was not ready. I'm not sure if it was the rain that caused the ride workers issues or what, but the clanking and calls for WD-40 in the dark didn't impress me much. I declined to try that thing out, and received a refund.
All and all, 13 Nights at Jiminy was a fun experience despite the rain and lack of zip-line action. It was redeemed, only slightly, by a visit to John Harvard's Brewery & Ale House. After the Giant Swing, I was in no condition to eat, but I did order a beer sampler of all their drafts. Consisting of seven brews ($10), it was a delightful way to wind down from all the fear-inducing costumed characters.
A few things I wish were true of 13 Nights at Jiminy: They actually work with the story of the missing sheep and diseased farmers and incorporate that historical value into the scare-a-thon; signs would help direct people where to go next; and a few extra lights would probably help with the ride situation. I'm not sure if those particular lights just don't run at night, but they should.
Tickets for 13 Nights at Jiminy can be reserved online or by calling (413) 738-5500. More information at www.13nightsatjiminy.com/tickets.