Dec 7, 2005 at 8:59 am #1217319
I have read some vague references to bad encounters people have had with people on the trail. What kind of dangerous people have you run into in your experiences or that you have heard about?
On a lighter note, I have a friend that refuses to go hiking because of the Blair witch movie, LOL. And another due to The Deliverance!Dec 7, 2005 at 12:08 pm #1346653
The worst encounter I had was not even a real encounter, but an act of vandalism / theft to my vehicle left at the trailhead. Had a window smashed, the stereo, CB radio, and a 4 D-cell mag lite stolen. I learned not to leave a CB in the open.
On the lighter side… a GPS would have saved the idiots from roaming in Blair Witch.
Something strange once was down the hill from a campsite, close to the creek, some trees had articles of clothing tied to them in a ritualistic manner. Looking more, the trees, each with 3 articles of clothes, were positioned in angles that made a 5 pointed star and all of the clothes were tied exactly the same fashion, with 5 folds/knots. We then joked about it humming the Dueling Banjo’s tune.Dec 7, 2005 at 12:36 pm #1346654
Wow You Win,
Both the Worst Encounter and the Strangest Encounter Award!
Might I suggest you find a different park to go backpacking.
RegardsDec 7, 2005 at 1:08 pm #1346657
@david_bonnLocale: North Cascades
I’ve had way more problems with people at trailheads than on the trail. I’ve had way, way more problems with people in certain towns than with people on the trail.
On trailhead thefts, I’ve had all the windows broken out of my Subaru and then had someone poop on the hood. Nothing was stolen. After this I usually made sure it wasn’t my car left at a trailhead. Then my friends truck was stripped at an isolated trailhead. We returned to an undrivable pickup truck at dusk on a Sunday night at the end of a forty-mile dirt road. Luckily we caught a ride about an hour later and got the truck towed out of there.
These days I just arrange rides to and from trailheads. Having lots of friends and a satellite phone help.
On strange stuff, I once found a dead person while cross-country skiing.
A good place to see strange (but I think relatively harmless) things on the trail is to hike the southernmost parts of the PCT close to Mexico. Say from Campo to Warner Springs. You will find interesting abandoned stuff, have enigmatic and bizarre encounters with border patrol personnel (sometimes in helicopters), and if you camp close to the trail you will often hear people hiking by in the darkness.Dec 7, 2005 at 1:55 pm #1346659
dang you guys have had some bad luck!
nothing has happend to my BMW.Dec 7, 2005 at 2:41 pm #1346662
Ok, you must expand on your story about findind a dead person on the trail. You can’t just put that one out there.
BobDec 7, 2005 at 2:59 pm #1346663
I’ve also found a dead guy. I was bushwacking and he was an Elk hunter. He was killed by the elk that he shot but not yet killed. He got to close and WHAM! Antler right through the chest. When we got to the trailhead there was a search party already there and some of his friends. I hiked the 30 miles back to the body and they were able to get him out on trolley.Dec 7, 2005 at 3:21 pm #1346667
@david_bonnLocale: North Cascades
More about the dead person I found…
I was skiing very early on a Sunday morning in February. Left the trailhead just as the sun was coming up. I was following a logging road in the valley floor for about a half-hour when I found this fellow face-down in the snow in the middle of the road. No pulse, no respiration, very cold.
He was wearing alpine ski boots, blue jeans, and a ski jacket. There was also a pint bottle of some kind of awful liquor in his pocket. There were bootprints some distance down the road I was skiing on.
So I figured this dude was skiing in the downhill ski area a few thousand vertical feet above my location, and he had somehow, either by design or accident, descended well below the ski area all the way to the valley floor, got on the road and discovered that alpine ski boots and alpine skis aren’t really an effective way to travel on a gently rising and falling logging road.
After a great deal of confusion several hours later, this guy was evacuated to the trailhead and pronounced d.o.t.s. by paramedics. A few weeks later I got the story that this guy had been skiing with a group of about a dozen people. Apparently when they left the ski area they figured our guy was with someone else. Cause of death: hypothermia.
One quiet contemplative morning of skiing ruined for me.Dec 7, 2005 at 8:22 pm #1346685
Not sure if this would be characterized as a bad trail encounter but this is my story!
Way back in the 70’s when my dad got me interested in backpacking we did a lot of hiking in North Georgia. On one particular trip we did the entire hike with compass only and bushwhacked most of the trip. Towards the end of the 2nd day as we were coming down the side of a mountain we noticed in the distance a guy all alone, down on his haunches right on the trail. Now we’re out in the middle of nowhere and as we get closer I notice he has a rifle across his lap and it’s not hunting season! As we go past it’s very obvious we’re somewhere we shouldn’t be as there was a definite weirdness in the air. You know that feeling you get where the hair on the back of you neck is standing up and you have this REALLY uneasy feeling? So Dad & I just hustled past the guy and didn’t say a word and got on down the mountain.
When we got to our destination, we met a USDA Forest Ranger who was hiking in the area and we told him of our encounter. He told us that this guy was a local in the area that was part of a family bootlegging operation that he had been looking for the past week. Seems that locals were shinin’ back in the hollers and we ran across one of them guarding his still!
These days I’m more concerned with someone busting into my car at the trailhead while I’m on the trail than anything else. I figure that anyone that wants to cause trouble is not going to bother hiking way out in the woods to do it.Dec 7, 2005 at 8:34 pm #1346687
I was hiking in October with 3 buddies on a well-known trail in Arkansas. We had a bothersome encounter at a remote camp on Saturday night. 12:40AM on Sunday we heard the sounds of engines straining and low gears. Suddenly, there were 4 Jeep-sized off-road vehicles driving through our campsite. We were all deeply asleep when this happened and were struggling to comprehend what was going on. The vehicles drove up out of the creek bed and into our campsite. The vehicles were all open top and the passengers were hollering to each other. They noticed that there were actually people sleeping here and one of the women said “howdy.” They drove down the footpath about 200 yards or so to the north end and turned around to come back. We talked it over and decided to stay as low key as possible. It was unclear what substances were involved and whether they might be armed. We stayed under cover of our tents and tarps.
They came back by again yacking it up. These yahoos drove further east toward the trail leading up, out of the campsite but found it too narrow to attempt. They turned around, passing by the party of relatively well behaved ORV riders camped above us. The yahoos exited to the creek bed and disappeared in the night. The episode lasted about 20 minutes. This part of the trail is on USFS land but this was not legal use of the area. We are glad that no one was hurt and we were able to continue safely. No one slept well the rest of the night.
The USFS has answered our report. They are working to improve enforcement and create other, legal opportunities for ORV vehicles on Forest Service land. That will be a good thing.Dec 12, 2005 at 1:39 pm #1346855
@florigenLocale: South East
On a solo 3 day trip in a less traveled section of NH White Mountain National Forest during a late spring morning I came across a birch tree with alot of fresh blood dripping down from about 13 feet up. At first I surveyed the surounding area to make sure I hadn’t stumble onto a crime scene, seemed to be nothing around to indicate foul play so I quickly left, I mean ran. Later I figured it was probably a moose that had been rubbing its antelors against the tree and probably cut itself in the process. Never the less a bit unerving.Dec 15, 2005 at 7:50 am #1346987
I was hiking into the Gila Wilderness in NM a few years ago before I started going lightweight. About 7 miles in, I torqued my knee, so I camped there for the night & headed out the next morning. The knee was really bad, but I limped out w/ my gear. The next week, I read an article in the newspaper that the rangers had found a pot farm in the area & the trail I had been on had been boobie trapped with a shotgun w/ the triggers wired. I still get shaky when I think about that one.Dec 15, 2005 at 8:01 am #1346989
@vickrhinesLocale: Central Texas
These are fun to hear about. Good campfire tales. But the really bad trail encounters are the ones you can’t talk about.Dec 15, 2005 at 8:58 am #1346995
i was on a canoe trip with my wife (then girlfriend). after a hard day of paddling and a few portages, i discovered that i forgot one of the two pieces of my stove (which meant that i might as well not have brought the stove at all).
well, i got mad and starting yelling and kicking the water. this went on for several minutes. then to my surprise, two young female park rangers come paddling out from around the bend. they had heard these bizarre noises from afar. i was so embarrassed! and i was all wet from kicking and hoarse from yelling. it must’ve been a bad encounter for them!
anyway, i made cookfires for the rest of the trip — slower, but it got the job done. i actually saw the same park rangers two days after. i think they were slightly surprised we hadn’t packed up and left that day.Dec 16, 2005 at 8:02 pm #1347064
@al_t-tudeLocale: High Sierra and CA Central Coast
Vick, The Epic Grading System commonly used by mountaineers is as follows:
Grade One – Fun while you were doing it and fun to tell the story afterward
Grade Two – Not fun while you were doing it but fun to tell the story afterward
Grade Three – Not fun while you were doing it and not fun to tell the story afterward
Grade Four – The experience was so frightening while doing it that you are too scared to even think of telling the story afterward
Mike, While it’s true that the characters in Blair Witch didn’t use GPS, the actors used it extensively in the making of the film. Each day the actors would find their way to the next cache left for them with fresh batteries, coordinates for the next camp and secret instructions for each actor providing them with their character’s motivation and conflicts for that night and the next day.
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