PEOPLE's Julie Jordan joined the Ghost Adventures team for a paranormal investigation in Eureka, Utah
I like to think of myself as a skeptical believer.
But when Travel Channel debuted their highest-rated series Ghost Adventures in October 2008, I was hooked. For more than 200 episodes, founder Zak Bagans has led his team of Aaron Goodwin, Billy Tolley and Jay Wasley as they investigate some of the most haunted locations around the country and abroad.
Over the last decade, they’ve captured disembodied voices, apparitions, objects moving on their own, not to mention being touched, scratched and pushed by unseen forces. And I’ve loved watching every minute of it (although admittedly it was almost always from under a blanket with all the lights on).
So when the guys gave me the chance to get off my couch and experience what it’s really like to go on an investigation, I was cautiously game. I naively assumed it couldn’t possibly be as scary as it seems on TV.
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At the end of August, I met up with the team in Eureka, Utah, an old mining town just south of Salt Lake City. I sat and talked with all four of them before the lock-down began and they each explained why they got into this field. “I love being out here and being a detective with these guys,” Zak said. “Our experiences fuel us. It’s a rush.” All of them nodded in agreement. “It’s a passion and I love to explore the unknown,” said Jay. “It opens a door,” Billy added, “to say if that’s possible, are all these other things possible?”
We were positioned outside on the small town’s Main Street and the buildings we would be investigating each had their own history. One was a former saloon and billiards hall, the other a bank with an old holding cell still in the basement. Zak asked if I was ready. Aaron jumped up and down in excitement for “the hunt.” And despite my trepidation, their energy was contagious.
I took a deep breath and followed Zak into the building. It looks dark on TV but let me tell you, it is truly impossible to see. Even when your eyes adjust, which Zak assured me would happen, you still have to feel your way around and watch your footing in the blackness.
As we were standing there, I sensed a breeze move from my left to my right. It felt exactly like it would if you were next to an air vent when it turned on. Only there was no vent. Jay then said he saw a light anomaly pass right by me.
Zak also captured several EVPs (Electronic Voice Phenomenon), which are what sound like disembodied voices and whispers on a digital recording when no one is talking. And I knew he was going to suggest leaving me alone somewhere (I knew it!). Part of the joy of the show is watching Zak lock Aaron away someplace dark to investigate. “I understand why and I’m down for it,” Aaron told me. “But it’s still scary to be all by yourself.” When they left me alone in the basement by the old cell, I was nothing short of terrified.
I enjoy yoga but deep breaths can only do so much to calm your nerves. When you see a ball of light go across a wall in front of you and you know without a doubt that there is no external source, it can be extremely disconcerting. But I made it (without hyperventilating—too much).
Truth be told, I opted out of the last part of the investigation. Okay, I chickened out. Hearing that someone is going to “do a ritual” to “open a portal” at a house at first sounds intriguing. But then I started fixating on the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark. You know, where they open the Ark of the Covenant and all these spirits come out and you think they’re beautiful but oh no, they melt your face off? Yeah, I kept hearing Harrison Ford tell Karen Allen, “Marion, don’t look at it. Shut your eyes, Marion, and don’t look at it no matter what happens.”
And yes, I am well aware it was just a movie. But it still scarred me enough as a 10-year-old to make me realize that it couldn’t hurt to just wait outside in the car and let the guys report back, thank you very much.
So what happened? You can watch for yourself when the episode airs on Nov. 24 at 9 p.m. ET. I’ll just say that Zak found me afterwards and played the audio evidence they had just captured on their digital recorder. I wouldn’t even want to try and describe what it sounded like or might be. All I can say is that I instinctively put my hands over my ears because it honestly felt like something I should not be hearing. It was absolutely horrifying.
But that is the beauty of this show—Zak, Aaron, Billy and Jay constantly put themselves out there to tackle the unknown so that viewers don’t actually have to. Even they get scared at times but as Zak told me, “That’s why it’s called an adventure.” As always, they leave it to us to be the judge.
All I know is that I still can’t get what I heard out of my head. It shook me to my core. Because ultimately it doesn’t matter whether you’re a skeptic or a believer, if you like facing your fears, then you will love Ghost Adventures.
Ghost Adventures airs on Saturdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Travel Channel.
Ghost Adventures Live, a four-Hour live Halloween investigation, airs Oct. 31 beginning at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT.