I appreciate the beauty of national parks and the great outdoors, though I just never know what's lurking out there. So when u/BassGSnewtype asked hikers, "What is the strangest thing you've seen on the trails?" I was damn curious to know what these fearless explorers found out there:
1."In a swamp in Florida, I found a picture of a young, high-school-age girl that looked like a graduation portrait stabbed into the ground with a kitchen knife and surrounded by black candles. On the other end of the spectrum, I also had an old naked barefoot lady come jogging up a mountain past me on the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina."
2."There was this walking trail that followed the river. The trail was very old and used by Native Americans. It was hard to access unless you started at one particular end, by a farmer's field. I wanted to use my metal detector to look for old coins on the trail. The farmer was there, and I asked his permission to access it through his field. I found an old brown bottle with 1929 dimes in it, but deeper in the woods, I found animal skulls. I think they were deer and smaller animals like raccoons. When I got back, the owner asked me what I found. When I told him about the skulls, he asked me to show him. We walked to the spot. He was quiet. He poked the skull with his boot but didn't touch it. We saw another skull, and he said, 'I think it's a dog.' We left. He said he didn't like the woods. I offered an explanation for the skulls, and he replied: 'Animal heads don't fall off while the body takes a walk.'"
3."My uncle was out on his land planning the next year's feed plots. He walked down the path that led to the river and spotted a tent. Then, he spotted a woman. The woman walked toward him. He was dressed in camouflage. She kept walking, closer and closer, until just feet away. Then she squatted and dropped a deuce. My uncle reached into his pocket and gently handed a handkerchief through a gap in the leaves. She ran, tripped, and ran more. Found out that the corner of my uncle's property was a former hippy colony abandoned in the '80s. Children of the first generation had started to return."
4."One time when I was on a hike, I saw a group of dead squirrels. And when I say group, I’m not screwing around — there were at least 10 squirrels just laying there in a pile. I was alone and ran away from there. I thought there might be a predator around."
5."Came across a person's shelter. It'd been abandoned long ago, but the person had caged a turtle they found in the nearby creek. It was a shell and skeleton when I found it. That stuck with me. The shelter was really low profile, and I realized why weeks later. I'd also found a Tupperware box with things stolen from the parking lot that was in view. The shelter was an excellent vantage point to watch hikers drive in and walk into the woods. This person then probably popped out of their shelter and sacked the car for money, valuables, and the random stuff I found in the container."
6."On the way down a small mountain hike with some friends, we spotted a solo hiker coming up the trail toward us. When we got within talking range, he said, 'Y'all want to see this cool dance?' Then proceeded to do the Rick and Morty 'Get Schwifty' dance, full squat down and everything. Then he stood up straight and said, 'Have a good trip and stay safe,' and just walked away. Never seen anything stranger on a hike."
Cartoon Network / Via giphy.com
7."A horse having its bum licked by a goat that was on a rock. Like as if it was standing on a box to reach the horse better."
8."My dad and I were out camping in the mountains. We just set up our tents, and then we heard screams in the woods. We immediately packed up our stuff and drove to another spot. We thought it was mountain folks eating people or something. We drove down by the store and told the clerk that we heard screams. It turns out it was an orgy for people who dress up in animal costumes. He told us that they have been doing this for years."
9."I saw a coyote loping over a hilltop, continuing along the ridge. Then, about 20 yards behind it, a deer chasing it. Looked like a couple of cartoon animals."
Warner Bros. Entertainment / Via giphy.com
10."I was on a day hike in Sedona, Arizona with a friend. It was a hike up the side of a canyon wall to a small, unnamed ruin with a beautiful view of the surrounding area — one of those 'unofficial' trails that the old-timers guard carefully to keep the tourists away, and would be almost impossible to find unless a local brought you there. I was honored to be trusted with this secret trail knowledge. I had to stop for a pee break, so I walked through the bushes as far from the trail as I safely could. I found a good spot near the edge of a steep drop-off that was smooth and cactus-free. The moment I dropped my pants, squatted down, and started peeing, I heard a low whooshing sound — a Red Rock Tour helicopter came rising straight out of the canyon directly in front of me."
11."I pulled up to a trail I frequented with my girlfriend at the time and saw a ton of state police, county sheriffs, investigators in hazmat suits with respirators, and a huge crime scene investigation van. There were remains dumped within sight of the trail. As we walked by, I said passively, 'I don’t think those were there the other day' to my girlfriend. One of the police officers heard me, so I ended up having to give an overly detailed report and all my information to them because they had nothing else to go on."
"I never heard anything else about it."
12."I was bushwhacking near my house when I heard some rustling in front of me and saw a large grizzly bear bolting in the opposite direction. Adrenaline kicked in immediately, and I ran back along the trail over a creek, heard water thrashing down the creek, and saw the bear charging at me. We both scared the crap out of each other, like an 'Oh sh*t!' moment, and ran off in opposite directions."
13."Two guys digging a hole at 2 a.m. — that was weird. They noticed us and called us over, but we just took off running."
14."I was walking along a dead silent trail when I heard what sounded like a shotgun go off and echo through the forest. I frantically looked around, trying to figure out who the hell was shooting. Then, I saw a large tree, like 40 feet away, start falling over and topple into the forest. The base of the trunk had exploded, and the whole tree just gave way. No idea why — it wasn't freezing or windy, and hadn't rained a lot recently, and the tree was pretty young."
15."It was years ago, somewhere in West Virginia. I was hiking through the woods off-trail and came across a big random field that was someone's farm. I was about to go around when I noticed a bunch of people wearing what looked like cloth diapers and head wraps while burning a cross with a pig hanging from a chain. They were speaking in a language that I did not recognize. They saw me. We both had the deer-in-headlights look for what felt like forever. A few of them started to walk my way. I have never run back up a mountain in the dark so fast for so long."
"I had no clue what they were doing, and I don’t think I could find that place again if I wanted to."
16."Static discharge from the rocks near the summit of a granite mountain. Then later, many miles downhill from that summit, there were noiseless flashes at night like lightning."
17."I lived in a national park by myself for three months. Several times when I was going back to my trailer for the day, I would hear music like a music box or an ice cream truck. It was always loud and sounded like it was coming from somewhere over my head. One day, I decided to look for the source. I followed the dirt road past my trailer. The music continued, and I couldn't tell if I was getting closer or not. I had my eyes on the trees and looked down just in time to avoid stepping on a snake. I scrambled back, but it didn't move. I realized it was dead, and it wasn't alone; there were a half-dozen dead copperheads stretched out in the road, looking in the same direction. I went back to get my car because I couldn't bring myself to step over them, but by the time I got my keys, the music had stopped. I didn't hear it again."
What's the strangest thing you've seen or encountered in nature? Share your experience in the comments.
Note: Submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.