National Park Rangers are as much a treasure as our parks themselves. They’re out there doing the real work, watching nature do its thing. In between keeping an eye on the birds, bees, and trees, along with the other creatures of the forest, park rangers sometimes stumble upon scenes that don’t seem quite so natural. These brave men and women have seen some crazy sights—and here are the craziest.
50. Watch Your Step
For several years I worked out in the forests of a country that experienced a large eradication of people in the not-incredibly-distant past. Several times I found skulls. Once I wasn’t watching where I was going and stumbled on something soft. I looked down and it looked like a very old sweater had been lying there forever. I poked it with my foot and dug around in the vegetation a bit. Most of the skeleton was gone, but it was clear there were bones inside the sweater. Somehow that freaked me out more than the skulls.
49. From Bad To Worse
Former park service here. Being way the heck out in Alaska waiting for a float plane to pick me and my partner up after a week of slogging through the tundra. And waiting. And waiting. And running out of food. And eating berries. And then when the plane landed, three days late, hearing what some horrible people had done to a tower in New York.
48. Into The (Mountain) Lion’s Den
In geology field camp in Colorado: One day we’re out doing a field test, which involves wandering around by yourself, checking out outcrops in an effort to figure out the underlying geological structures in the area (folds, faults, etc.). We’re up on top of this cliff and I’m wandering around near the edge, trying to find a way to look at the horizontal layers that I’m currently standing on top of. I find a small nearly vertical crevasse that looks like it will do the trick and I can see a little ledge about 8 feet down that looks like I can scramble down to it and get a good picture of what’s going on. So I shimmy my way down without too much problem and jump down to the ledge, landing in a mass of juniper needles… and hard white things, which turn out to be lots and LOTS of elk, deer, and bighorn sheep bones… and lots of shedding, tawny fur. …and the pervasive odor of cat droppings. Needless to say, I scrambled the heck out of there as fast as my monkey arms would take me and counted myself lucky that no one was home.
Long story short: I climbed into an active mountain lion den then got out as fast as possible.
47. Creature With A Foot Fetish
My pops and I are avid campers, not professionals anymore, but my dad used to be a wilderness guide for kids. We typically prefer the eastern/western sierras as they have great car camping spots next to lakes and a lot of great trails. Last summer, we decided to go up for a two night stay and do some day hiking. The campground is pretty full, not unusual for the summer, but we are lucky enough (I thought at the time) to find a pretty secluded site and we setup our tents. The first night is normal. A little bear activity, but we’re used to that.
Second night, I crawl into my backpacking tent (head and toes hit both ends- very small) and I pass out cold… until about three a.m. when I wake up to the sound of footsteps. My dad is a diabetic and needs to get up to relieve himself around three to four times a night, and the sounds are definitely footsteps but they’re coming from the wrong direction. We were located next to the bathrooms, so the footsteps should be moving in that direction, but they’re coming closer to my tent. They stop about a yard short and the breathing gets really heavy. I first brush it off as my dad, maybe lost without a flashlight. The breathing goes away. I fall back asleep only to be woken a few minutes later to breathing right above the tent. You know that rush of terror up your spine? I had that. This wasn’t dad. I laid perfectly still but the footprints continued to circle the tent. I had the rainfly on so I couldn’t see through the roof and it was a new moon and pitch black. Now I convince myself, a heavy sleeper, that I’m dreaming. Just as that thought runs through my head I feel a single finger run the length of my foot through the tent… real slow and methodical. Now, I figure, I have to be dreaming because my foot is in my sleeping bag and I couldn’t possibly feel that. But that comfort disappears quickly when I realize (using the small ambient light available) that my foot was bare and out of the bag. I lay frozen as… whatever it was… strokes my foot for a minute or two, gives a few more labored breaths and then just stands above my tent for what felt like an eternity before disappearing. I stayed up all night. In the morning I heard my dad get out of his tent; I bolted up and met him by the fire. He looked me in the eye and asked if I had gotten up the night before. I asked him the same and he said he had at around two a.m. because he thought someone was going through our stuff. As I told him my story we noticed our gear had been neatly rearranged on the table. Every item. Nothing taken. Footprints in a perfect circle around my tent. We still can’t even talk about it without getting skeeved out.
46. The Night Watch
I work in the outdoor field and lead trips regularly. I once led a trip to the top of Mt. Sterling in NC. It’s a tough climb to get to the top and about six miles from the nearest road. I was leading a group of eight middle-school kids and had one co-instructor. We were camping out on top of the mountain and it was a beautiful night with a full moon. The kids and the other co-instructor went to bed in their tents. I chose to spend the night in a hammock that night. I was really into a book I was reading so I stayed up and read until about 10:30 p.m. I turned my headlamp off to settle in for the night. Everything around me was rather bright from the moon and from the position I was in, I could see down the trail we had hiked to get to the top. I laid there enjoying the scenery and noticed something moving on the trail. Bears are common in the area so I perked up. As it got closer, I could tell it was a person. We were in the middle of nowhere and there was someone hiking up the trail with no headlamp or any gear. I was just frozen watching this person move closer to our camp. They arrived at the top of the mountain where we were and just stopped. I watched as what appeared to be a man surveyed our camp. I really could only see the outline of him. He stood there for what seemed like 30 minutes but may have been 10. He then turned, sat down under a tree facing our camp. He was sitting up in a way that I knew he wasn’t trying to sleep. He just sat there staring at our camp. I had no idea what to do. I decided to wait it out. I waited, just staring at the man while he stared at my camp. This went on until about 3:30 a.m. Then, he stood up, took a moment to survey my camp a few minutes longer and then went back down the trail he came up on. I, to this day, have no idea what that was all about but it freaked me out. I was paranoid that we were being followed for the rest of the trip.
45. Message In A Bottle
I was working with endangered shorebirds one summer and living on a remote island off of Cape Cod. One 12-hour day of monitoring, I plopped down in some sand to take a nap and noticed a bottle laying next to my head. It was fogged up and weathered from the sea. I usually don’t think much of bottles because they’re everywhere on the island, but I decided to open it thinking there might be something inside of it. Earlier that summer I found a message in a bottle from a team of people researching local currents, asking me to email them the coordinates I found it at.
Sure enough, this one had a message in it.
I pulled out a wet, folded piece of paper from the bottle and carefully unfolded it. It immediately began to tear apart in the wind, but I kept it pieced together just well enough to read it. It was from a woman named Mama Lu. She addressed it to the universe, asking to become cancer-free, and hoping for a sign of remission during her doctor’s appointment that was scheduled two days after she wrote the letter. It was one of the saddest and most beautiful things I’ve ever read. A letter to the universe, and a glimpse into the soul of a person who is desperate to grasp on to life as she knows it, sitting in my unlikely hands.
44. Food Delivery In The Woods
Ex-tree Planter here. We were relaxing in the truck after work one evening (central British Columbia) maybe a kilometer from a nearby lake. We noticed an osprey (a kind of bird of prey) in the distance, flying toward us, carrying something in its talons. It was really moving, and we soon saw why—a fully grown eagle was chasing it. It was probably a couple hundred feet above us. I was in the back seat, and maybe ten seconds after the eagle passed out of view due to the roof of the cabin blocking my vision, a 10-pound fish landed in the middle of our dirt parking lot. Still flopping. One of the foremen grabbed it and cooked it up for dinner.
43. Stranger In The Night
I was surveying a remote restoration site near an old trail and I heard someone walking up a nearby path. All the hair on the back of my neck stood on end, so I grabbed all my stuff and started casually walking down the trail like I belonged there. I turned the corner and there was a shirtless guy swinging a crowbar around in circles, and when he saw me he started yelling, “I’VE GOT A CROWBAR! I’VE GOT A CROWBAR!” I think I nodded at him, squeaked something like, “Nice crowbar,” and then ran the mile or so back to my truck. That’s the reason why I carry mace now.
42. Please Stop Staring At Me
A couple years ago I went camping with my brother and an old roommate of mine. This was in one of the national forests in Oregon. We were pretty high up, kind of near an old ghost town. Not really a dangerous area, but there are a lot of black bears, and some cougars.
I set up my hammock with a tarp draped over to keep the rain out. Then went to bed. Well, since I drank my weight in refreshments on the way up there, I woke up in the middle of the night and had to do my business. I lifted up the tarp to peek out with a flashlight, and that’s when I saw two eyes staring back at me. They were about 20 feet away.
I was using on of those $2 hardware store LED lights, so it didn’t throw a beam. So I couldn’t see what was behind the eyes, all I could see was that they were far apart. My first instinct was to turn off the light, and stay where I was. But it was so close, and then I wouldn’t be able to see it. We had 3 weapons, but I left mine in the truck. I came to the conclusion that the only thing to do was to stay perfectly still and keep the light on so I could see it. So I draped my other leg out of the hammock and was ready to bolt for the truck if it charged at me.
I stayed in this position for what felt like forever, until I noticed that the eyes had not moved at all. So I took a chance. I slowly got out of the hammock, and started moving around the eyes, keeping about 20 ft between us. I was moving towards the truck.
Once I got to the side, I saw it. It was… a pair of binoculars. Left open sitting on a stump. With a light, they reflect just like a pair of eyes, and in my half awake state, it never occurred to me that this could be a possibility. I put the binoculars away and went to sleep.
I know that this isn’t an actual dangerous experience. I’ve actually encountered wild animals before. But this is by far the most scared i have ever been, and for the most amount of time.
41. Cougar On The Prowl
The scariest experience I had as a back-country park ranger in Washington State was being stalked by a cougar for a day and a half. I was hiking up an unpopular trail to an old shelter and had that creepy “being watched” feeling. I had seen fairly fresh cougar scratches and scats along the trail but that’s pretty common up here so I wasn’t worried at all. That night I camped at the shelter, which only had three walls and a roof. I felt uneasy all night and hardly slept. At one point (hiding myself for being paranoid) I arranged my emergency foil tarp around my sleeping bag so at least I could hopefully hear something if it approached me as I slept. The next day I found FRESH scat and scratches on the trail I had hiked in on. About a mile past the shelter, I found a mostly-eaten deer in some dense brush off the trail. Cougars often keep stashes of meat throughout their territory for later snacking. Now a cougar won’t usually tangle with a human but here I am, a five-foot-tall, 100-pound sack of flesh and bones at least 13 miles out from any other humans. I decided to cut short my three-day trip and hot footed it out of there. The last two hours of hiking through dusk in a dense forest was the most hair-raising hike I’ve ever had. I didn’t know I was capable of being that hyper-vigilant.
40. Don’t Think You’re Alone
I live in northeast Oklahoma and I consider myself a camping/fishing enthusiast. One spring night, me and two friends decide to go fishing. It’s around midnight; we’re going to a place that was once a maintained primitive camping area. This is not a remote location, but it’s not very well-known either. As we approach the turnoff for our spot, we see another vehicle slowly turning out of it, and proceeding in the way in which we came. We pass them and a friend says how he figured no one else would be around. We get to our spot, get our gear out and begin to prepare. As we chat, we all notice an unspoken uneasiness. Something is just not right. Usually, I’m a trooper, fishing until the sun comes up, but I’m the first to crack. I explain to my friends how I feel, that we should leave and I just have a bad feeling. They agree, we load up. While slowly driving through the old campground we notice some brightly glowing embers in an area where no one has been. My friend driving stops without even thinking and goes for a look. He is startled, telling us to come see. What we saw was the remains of three crosses, made of wood that would stand about 12 inches if upright. But they had been burned, along with a small campfire. To make it even better, all were lying on freshly turned soil, which resembled a freshly dug grave. We freaked, got the heck out of there fast. Thank you sweet baby Jesus we are home free we all thought. When we approach the exit of the old campground we notice a vehicle parked on the side of the road. We pass it and we all realize, it’s the same car we passed on the way in. There was no one in the car. They had doubled back and were likely watching us, waiting to do who knows what.
39. SOS Experience
Not a pro but I’ve spent more than a thousand days in the back country over the past decade. I have always been drawn to the wild. It seems like home and I generally know my neighbors out there. Not afraid to be in the deep woods, in the dark. Love my woods.
One sunny, weekday afternoon I had dirt biked up an old mining road. It gained a couple thousand feet from the valley floor towards one of the ridges of the Cascades. When the road gave out near the bottom of a high basin I put on my backpack and started off cross country toward the ridge. It was still heavily forested, old growth and old cut fading in another thousand feet into those scraggly, wind blown ones near the top. About twenty minutes in and about a half mile up from me, near the tree line, I heard this thumping sound. It was very odd so I stopped to listen carefully. It sounded like a big, solid branch was being whacked against a solid tree. I use the term solid because the hits were powerful. One or both of the pieces of wood were hard and dry. The wood resonated and rang on impact as dry wood will. I couldn’t get over the power though. It sounded like someone was swinging a four-inch post. Weird right? Well, it gets better: this someone sounded like they were trying to communicate, the thumping had a very complex and well defined pattern. And here’s the weirdest part—the thumping “signal” occasionally became very rapid like what a drummer could do if they were noodling around with a stick but I swear it sounded like a four inch post was being treated a lightly as a drumstick.
I listened for maybe five minutes, just fascinated with this sound, this code, and the power of it. Then the drumming suddenly stopped. I kind of woke up to the the fear of this unknown thing out there. I had lots of stuff to protect me, I had my bear spray, and my knife. I really only fear cougars and even then I figure they’ll have a bad day trying to take me down. Still, the silence as I stared into the forest ahead seemed loaded and I turn on my heels and left that valley. That place and that experience gave me the chills and that high valley won’t see my shadow again.
I have read stories about some of the native peoples around here having valleys that they just wouldn’t go into. I can now easily understand how these legends get started.
38. Warning Signs In The Woods
There was a group of teens that hadn’t been heard from after their scheduled return time from a camping trip. A good friend and I know the area very well so one of the search and rescue guys we’re friends with called us in to assist in the search. He and I head out in the general direction the teens had set off in. We’d been hiking for most of the day and seen nothing. We’re about 35 kilometers into the woods at this point when we start noticing odd things: sticks carved like spears stuck into the ground, weird carvings in the trees, a child’s stuffed animal hanging from a noose up in a tree. This place was nowhere’s near any roads, it wasn’t on the regular trails people would go on in the area. The really eerie thing was that everything was freshly carved. Somebody had been there within a couple of hours of us and made these things. Mind you we’re still looking for these teens. We kept on hiking and eventually made camp for the night still kind of on edge from what we had seen earlier but we settle down anyway and go to sleep. We get up with the sunrise hoping to cover more ground before it gets to hot. We pack up the gear and get ready to go when i noticed a bit of shirt that had caught on a small tree and ripped along with some shoe prints. We were thinking great maybe we’re close by to the teens when a radio call comes through. The teens had just been found 20 kilometer east of us they’re calling everybody back. All those weird things we had seen from the day before came flooding back into my mind—we wasted no time hiking out of those woods.
37. Discovering A Sign From The Universe
I was mapping one summer (ex-geologist) on the tundra in northern Quebec (Nunavik) approximately 150-200 km from the nearest town. I mean, the middle of nowhere—no one was there. No cabins, no ATV routes, nothing.
We were walking along when my field partner flipped a rock with his foot (just a random rock of millions – tons of glacial float up there) when a piece of paper flies up from underneath it caught by the breeze. He turns to me and we both go, what the heck? There should be NO paper just randomly there.
I track down the paper and find that it’s folded. I open it up and see that it’s a note with the words, “Je t’aime” on it with a drawn heart. Upon seeing this, I literally got chills up and down my spine, because the improbability of it floating all that way, being undamaged by the rain or the myriad of lakes, and then us finding it… I am not a religious or superstitious man, but it felt like the universe or some higher power just reached out and poked me in the chest.
36. A Mysterious Two-Legged Monster…
About a decade ago, while I was in the Boy Scouts, we went to a local Boy Scout summer camp to clean up after a storm. Four other Scouts and I were about two miles in the woods clearing vehicle, hiking, and walking trails. While working, we heard something on two legs about 50 yards off the trail. We all began to call out because it sounded like someone walking toward us and we figured it was a Scout Master. When we began calling out the sound stopped; after a while, we went back to clearing the paths.
Then we heard the thing in the woods make an odd sound and run through the woods. We were all fairly freaked out by this point so we began heading back towards camp as a group but we could hear the thing off in the woods running around us making odd sounds. So we all huddled up and some younger Scouts, myself included, began to freak out and the 17-year-old in the group (our senior patrol leader) was also looking a bit worried. The thing in the woods sounded like a large man running through the woods but making odd screeching sounds. As we get about a mile from camp, we began yelling, hoping the Scoutmasters could hear us. The younger Scouts were saying we should make a run for it but our senior patrol leader told us not to so the thing wouldn’t chase us like predators normally do. We continued the huddled fast walk then we heard a truck coming down the path. This caused the young Scouts to break rank and haul butt towards the truck. The senior patrol leader, quickly seeing his strength-in-numbers advantage in leaving, quickly started to run too.
We finally saw the truck which began to stop and the local Forest Ranger got out of the truck and began yelling, “What’s wrong? Is everyone OK?” We were all yelling, “No, Monster!” And, “Something is hunting us!” Along with the always efficient, “Ahhhhhhhhhhhh!” We all got to him at the truck and he was laughing… we turned around and standing in the middle of the trail was a huge emu! Apparently, a local raises them for meat and a few got out during the storm.
35. No Black Mountain Lions
According to experts, there are no such thing as black mountain lions. One day while out with my dogs hunting mushrooms deep in the woods of northern Humbolt County, my dogs caught a scent and took off ahead of me. Before I could call them back they were out of sight and then I heard a horrible screaming sound and my dogs snarling and barking and squealing. By time I got over the hill, they had three mountain lions in a tree, a mother and two large cubs. The mother and one the cubs were jet black. One of my dogs had a severely mangled leg and shoulder, and puncture wounds to her neck, so I didn’t stick around to observe, and I sure as heck didn’t think to take any pictures. I scooped up my injured dog, slung her over my shoulders and hiked the three miles back to where I’d left my car and rushed her to the vet. While she was in surgery to amputate her leg, my vet’s husband, who is a forest service worker, came in the office. He had heard about the attack and wanted to ask me about the location and details. When I told him about the black mountain lions, he told me that there are no black mountain lions. He refused to believe me and treated me as if I were crazy! After my baby girl was settled and resting back at home, I proceeded to start making calls to park departments, colleges, cat sanctuaries… anyone who I thought might have some information. Every expert I talked to had the same reaction, they told me black mountain lions do not exist and treated me like I was crazy. I know what I saw, and there are at least two black mountain lions in the world!
34. Watch Where You Pee
My scariest wilderness encounter was at about two a.m. while maintaining a fire line on a 300-acre fire caused by a lightning strike. I needed to use the restroom and the rule is you don’t relieve yourself on the fire, so I walked over towards a stump outside the fire line. I was about 50 feet away from the stump when it walked away. It was a black bear.
33. Ghost In The Ranger Station
I’m a wildland firefighter in Wyoming, and supposedly a few of the ranger/lookout stations up in the Big Horn Mountains are haunted (according to some of my buddies). Lots of slamming doors, tools being rearranged, footsteps across the attics, etc.
32. Glacial Lake Shark
I was a trail worker in Yosemite and was stationed in a ski hut by Ostrander Lake. The lake is an ancient glacial melt and originally had no fish, but in the early days of national parks, fishing was a huge attraction. So, rangers of old would stock the lake with fish brought up in barrels on mules. Rumor has it that somewhere in the fish barrels was a river shark or bull shark and it has survived ever since. On our days off we would swim and since there are large amounts of driftwood on the shore all you’d have to do is straddle a log and swim out to the middle of the lake. The lake is fairly deep and clear, but one evening as the sun set I felt something brush against my leg, not a trout, but something substantial. The shadow disappeared into the depths and I booked it to the shore. And that’s how I met the Ostrander Shark.
31. Horrible Humvee
I worked for the BLM in Nevada doing vegetation surveys in areas that had previously been burned by wildfires. We worked in extremely isolated areas that sometimes took four to five hours on dirt roads to access.
One trip we were at least 50 miles from the nearest paved road traveling in two trucks up a really narrow section of road that wound through a mountain pass. Just as we came to a blind curve a huge SUV-type vehicle came around the corner. It was tinted, heavily armored with a weapon on the back and looked like a desert apocalypse version of the Batmobile. It was the most insane vehicle I have ever seen.
But there was nowhere for us to turn around and no shoulder to pull off on, just a cliff on the uphill side and a steep drop off down the mountain on the other. It was going to take about a half mile or more of backing up the road to find any spot to pull off. So we just sat there for a minute trying to think of what to do when all of a sudden the apocalypse humvee backs up about 20 feet, then guns it straightforward and at the last second cuts it sharp right and rips straight down the side of the mountain bulldozing over waist-high scrub and sagebrush. We all sat there in awe and watched the cloud of dust it left and it’s path of destruction. It was pretty exciting for the middle of nowhere.
30. Blast From The Past
Back when I was involved in expeditions, I encountered weird things I remember offhand. One was on the Isle of Sky: we were practicing winter climbing, and one group wandered off to do some navigation exercise. It’s pretty desolate out there, especially in winter. But they came across a tent, middle of nowhere, and popped by to see who was there. The tent was ripped, a two-man type, and faded from the sun. A decision is made—they call out and open the damaged tent. Inside was the typical stuff, sleeping bag, rucksack, clothes, dried food. And a newspaper, from five years previous.
29. A Tragedy In The Forest
I was a wildland firefighter (specifically a hotshot) for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. We saw a lot of backcountry in national forests that no one ever saw. Once, on a fire in Southern California, we helicoptered deep into the woods then hiked eight or so miles. We were way out when we discovered human remains, clothes etc.
We opened the wallet to find a note. Then found the thing he used with one bullet missing. We examined the skull and discovered the guy used it on himself. Very creepy in person.
A crew flew out and investigated. Piecing together his ID and missing person reports, they discovered he’d been out there more than a decade.
28. Fear The Flying Boulders
When I was doing trail-clearing there was a lot of strange stuff. One night I was camped by a lake, miles from even the nearest road, and a boulder just flew into the lake, from the other side. Then another, then another. I didn’t really sleep that night but my hatchet was my cuddle buddy.
27. Which Is Witch?
My grandfather used to be the equivalent of a ranger down in Mexico. He was in charge of patrolling the farms and lands mainly due to people growing illegal greenery. One day he said he was patrolling this ranch late at night and he heard a baby crying. Now, the land is pretty flat, so he looked all ways and saw nothing, maybe some goats out in the far (they sound like crying babies). As he is walking his route he hears the same sound, looks up in a sky and he swears he saw a witch, with black clothing and everything flying towards a mountain. He panicked, ran to his car and drove off as fast as he could.
26. Camping In A Town Of Ghosts
Not a professional, but I do like to go deep into the woods. About a year ago I was out on a backpacking trip with my Dad and my brother, we were hiking along a rail trail that passed along a few abandoned coal towns in central Pensylvania, and we decided to camp in the ruins of one such town. There really wasn’t much left, only a few foundations and a spring that was the focal point of the town back in the 1800s. This place is miles away from any civilization, and with the foundations and the terrain, it can be a little creepy at night. But as soon as the sun fell, we started to hear quiet noises in the distance, they were like whispers, and we could never get any understanding or meaning out of it, but we were aware of these strange noises coming from the town around us. These noises lasted all night long, and scared the heck out of all three of us. We pretty much pretended like we did not hear anything, and got the heck out of there the next day.
We didn’t really start talking about it till miles later on the hike when we felt like we were away from that place and whatever the heck inhabited it.
25. It’s A Turtle-Eat-Hog World
My dad, grandfather and I witnessed a snapping turtle latching on to a wild hog and pulling it under water. This happened in the swamps of Louisiana. That turtle was almost the size of a smart car.
24. The Drums Of War
So I was a guide for a while, and have a good deal of experience on my own as well. During a training session, I was about to do a 300-foot rappel down a rock face alongside a waterfall that was notorious for deaths (almost always due to being dumb). Normally the program I worked with tried to do these with a fireman’s belay at the bottom, but for training purposes I was going down without, as it’s not an incredibly high risk activity if you know what you’re doing, but it can be very frightening, especially in the first few seconds over the edge. Anyways, for the entire time we were setting up our lines, and in the few minutes before I went down, I just keep hearing this very, very faint drum. It was not a heartbeat, and it was not anything “wrong” with my body. I swear to you I could hear a drum, and no one else heard it. Very faint and almost had a changing pace. I thought it was the darn drums of death or something. I don’t know if that counts as weird or scary, but it freaked me out and I had never heard it before then, or since.
23. Forest Full Of Jack-O-Lanterns
I used to do wilderness forestry in the Linville Gorge area of North Carolina. A Jack-o-lantern is a disembodied light that floats in the air. They are commonly reported in the Southern Appalachians, but reports are usually disregarded because it’s easy to imagine that the person seeing them was seeing something more mundane.
I have seen a few things that I suspect were Jack-o-lanterns, but there was one that was plain and clearly just a free-floating light out in the open on the East Side of Shortoff Mountain where there are no trails in a place that can only be accessed by someone with good mountaineering skills and woodcraft. Furthermore, it was floating above brush way too thick for anything to move quickly and smoothly through if it was walking on the ground.
I should point out that there is a confirmed similar phenomenon nearby, the Brown Mountain Lights, that has puzzled people for centuries. On hot summer nights, you can sit at Wiseman’s View or a pulloff on a highway east of the Gorge and see Jack-o-lanterns dance along Brown Mountain Ridge yourself.
22. Was It A Skinwalker?
This story was told to me by a friend who lives near Tucson, AZ.
Apparently, he and his friends were out in the desert one night (I can’t remember if they were camping overnight or just out late), when they got separated. There were three of them and the one I know (I’ll call him Joe) was calling for the other two when he spies someone who was crouching nearby suddenly stand up in the moonlight. This was around eight yards away from him. He thought it was one of his friends and started to move towards it, when he heard his actual buddies respond to his calls behind him.
He just very slowly backed away and ran for it. He thinks it was possibly a skinwalker (a shape-shifting witch), but it was probably just some other weirdo out alone in the desert…
21. Caged In The Wild
I came across a cage with a full-sized mattress in it. Also, it had a water container and lots of empty potted meat cans around it. Kinda weird since it was in a small tract of land that split several cattle pastures. There was sun screening material over the cage, the mattress was heavily stained in the middle. Must disclose that this was in Central Florida.
20. What Does He Do All Day?
I do surveying in pretty remote areas. Weirdest thing I saw was a 70-year-old squatter who lived out in the desert, just him and his dog. He drove his quad into town once a week for water; otherwise, he just lives in his trailer all day. I don’t know what he does for food or entertainment. He’s a really nice guy though. He offered to help us out with our survey any way that he could.
19. He May Be Reading Right Now
Made an account just to share this story, which happened today. I’m doing some subcontracting work marking borders for the state of Massachusetts, meaning I walk around all day hanging around and painting trees. I was working today in a wildlife management area which has one road going through it, and as I crossed it, I encountered a hiker.
Now, this guy seemed pretty normal, but from his perspective, a six-foot-tall 180-pound man just came crashing out of the woods wearing no shirt, covered in paint, holding an ax. He commented that my ax was “a serious piece of equipment”, and without thinking, I responded, “Yeah gotta watch out or it can cut you real easy”. He looked completely terrified, muttered a goodbye, and took at a brisk walk while checking back over his shoulder every few seconds. For all I know, that might have been the guy who made this thread!
18. A Bear Party
Honest to God, I once encountered a group of bears mating with each other. It was deep in Rocky Mountain National park about 15 years ago. I was hiking and I came across five or six black bears just going to town on each other. No one back at the station ever believed me and this was before I had a phone that could take pictures or video. Never seen anything like that since.
17. The Man In The Tree
A dead man in a tree. The rest of the rangers say they find about one a year, so here was the one for the year. When we go around opening parks each day, we drive through to make sure everything is ok. I’m this instance I was driving through and had just lost sight of the road when I saw a man hanging from a tree in a clearing. I called the cops and the coroner… the coroner took an hour to show up and he was the only one with a ladder long enough to cut the guy down. So I stared at him in the tree for an hour.
16. Haunted Hot Dogs
A pack of hot dogs. I was deep in the Canadian wilderness on a two-month trek. I hadn’t seen anyone in about three weeks.
15. Too Quiet
Planted trees in Alberta, and Ontario Canada.
The weirdest thing was being on a clear-cut and having my ears ring and ring to the point where I thought I was going insane. It was because it was so quiet. I think it was a reaction in my mind/ears to create stimuli when there was absolutely none. Think about it – you always hear something in the city – the hum of AC, traffic, distant voices.
It was just absolute stillness out there. I went from scared to really happy when I figured out what was happening.
14. Getting Chased From Bee-Hind
Am a Forester in Oregon – sooo many weird/scary things, but the ones that always creep me the worst are bees! – buddy and I are cruising timber in August and we cross a little trail, we see some flagging with writing on it some other Forester left, so he went to look at it – at that exact instant, my dog bolted off the trail (she was very “bee smart”), I didn’t see anything, experience had taught me to trust that dog and I followed. As soon as me and the dog were far enough away, I turned to see my buddy running like crazy followed by a cloud of bees so thick they looked like smoke – it was a BIG ground nest – somehow, we made it without a single sting – I asked my friend what was written on the flagging he said “….if you can read this your in trouble!….” – Foresters! – funny in hindsight, and I admit to having done the same every time I find a nest now…
13.That’s A Pretty Big Slice
Environmental Scientist here – Was hit in the head by a golf ball while in the middle of nowhere, on several different occasions. No idea where it came from – no houses, golf courses or anything nearby.
12. That’s Not Natural
I know this was tagged as serious, and this is, but it sounds like a joke so I feel it needed the preface. While in College for Forestry Tech, part of the course was going deep into the woods for surveying and analysis purposes. One day the class is driven 10 Kilometers into the woods via a fire access road (forest fire fighting purposes). The patch of woods is also a good 30 km from any real town. After walking another 5 km into the woods, a friend of mine spotted something bright pink that was clearly not natural and needed closer inspection. It was a 10″ silicon piece of work if you know what I mean that appeared to have been chewed on. Yep. It was measured because of the debate of size and the fact that a tape measurer was on hand for measuring sapling heights. Our best guess is that a coyote stole it from someone’s garbage or yard and had treated it like a regular dog would a toy. But a weird find none the less.
11. Oops, Sorry Eh!
One summer, I went out canoeing with my fiancée in the most beautiful of rivers in northern Ontario. We brought a picnic basket, had some cheese, crackers and wine. We found a scenic spot by the shore and sat down to take in the view. The sun was setting and we were buzzing. It was a really great moment. I laid her down on a boulder and some intimacy started. I heard some splashing, turned around and saw an elderly couple paddling by, trying not to ruin our moment. Just a polite nod and smile. Typical Canadians.
10. Don’t Let The Dogs Bark
Not sure if this qualifies as strange but once my boyfriend, I and our two dogs were way out in the Sierras somewhere and we went to this lake to camp. The area turned out to be really marshy and we had to hike a while to find a place dry enough and far enough away from the insects. We lay down in our tent and chill after our hike when we hear…something. We unzip a window and look out to see that an entire herd of elk (? I think? not sure) were all around us, some just a few feet away from our tent. They were huge. We never said a word to each other and silently agreed not to alert the dogs. Then we sat there absolutely terrified while they all had their evening drink and finally moved along. We were terrified that the dogs would catch on and start barking and get us trampled. Simultaneously cool and terrifying.
9. Possible Human Centipede
One weekend a friend and I decided to hit up a place they call Garden of the Gods in Illinois. Nice scenery for the region and we wanted to camp out. We picked the wrong day. The weather turned bad around dusk. Like, tornado bad. Luckily we were right by the car and took shelter there for a few hours. It was bad, the storm was terrible, I got a serious migraine, and we decided to bail when the rain broke around 10pm. We had everything packed to go by midnight and set back to civilization. This is where it gets weird.
As we drove down the only road to and from this campsite, another car was coming up. At midnight. To a secluded campsite. After a huge storm. But that’s not the worst part, no. When we passed this car we saw that it was a sleek, black Lexus with a vanity plate on the front that read DRPILLS.
I’d like to think it was someone local worried about us, but I’m also worried I narrowly avoided having my friend’s face sewed to my backside.
8. Possum-bly Not As Scary As I Thought
Not a woods worker, just a farmboy.
A buddy and I made a fort out of pallets in the woods when we were little. We took a bunch of food and sleeping bags out there, and it became our play area. This was about a half mile out from his family’s farm.
So we figure we will camp out that night. So we tell stories or whatever it is kids do, and finally lay down to sleep. In the middle of the night we hear this sound…. scratching, snarling, snorting, hissing. It gets closer and closer and closer. We both hear it and are really scared. When it sounds like it is right next to us, we both bolt from the fort and take off running through the fields back to his parents’ house.
We stopped briefly to check what it was…
They were possums man.
7. This Isn’t The Place To Do That
I worked for the Appalachian Mountain Club huts in the White Mountains. One summer while working at Lakes of the Clouds hut on Mt. Washington I came across a French-Canadian hiker in the bathroom washing his man meat in the bathroom sink. This is a heavily trafficked hut, lots of kids around, and this guy just dropped his stuff in the sink and lathered up.
6. Just Need Some Time Away
We were moving cows through some pretty remote bush via horseback and my Dad decided to go for a little trail ride and stumbled upon some indigenous guy hand weaving a fish net in the middle of the bush. The guy said that’s where he goes when his family gets on his nerves haha.
5. Get Out Quick
I used to explore abandoned houses with my buddy in the middle of nowhere as a kid when I lived for a couple of years in ND.
One house had clearly been abandoned for at least 40 years or so. The door to the upstairs was locked from the inside. So we pulled the truck up to the porch, climbed onto the roof, opened the window and went inside. Inside we found a bed with a mattress that had all of the cloth removed, only springs. On it were about 50 emptied/used wallets. Next to the bed was an old trunk filled with weird astrological and cult papers. We left quickly.
4. Just Enjoying My Freedom
A friend and I were way out the middle of nowhere north of Payson, AZ driving on dirt roads miles from the highway looking for a trout stream when we saw a naked guy run across the road. We stopped and kind of gave each other a “what was that” look and kept driving. After another mile or two we found our trout stream and it was filled with dozens of fat and naked old people. A nudist group took over our awesome fishing spot for the weekend.
3. Had To Ease The Pain
I was in Zambia doing some filming for a wildlife documentary when a ranger and I came across a bull elephant that had been injured by poachers some days before. Using a home-made weapon, the poachers had fired into the elephant’s shoulder, incapacitating the front limb. The animal couldn’t really walk, was very dehydrated and was clearly in a lot of pain. After some deliberation, it was decided that we needed to euthanize the elephant. I stood next to the ranger as he did it, only about 15ft from the enormous bull. He was put out of his misery.
It was the right thing to do, but it was one of the most heart breaking things I’ve ever experienced.
2. Unfortunate Moose
I was hiking along on old and overgrown logging road with a friend. We were several miles down the road when it connected with a small bridge across a creek. The bridge deck was made of horizontal railway ties that were uniformly spaced, like you would see on a railway but without the gravel between them. We walked across the bridge, being careful to only step on the railway ties and not the gaps between them. We noticed some fur and bones scattered on the bridge several steps ahead of us. Not a big deal, so we went to check it out. As we got closer, we realized that it was the remains of a moose. The carcass looked to be picked clean of meat by predators, possibly wolves. That’s when we noticed it. The moose still had all four legs intact, hanging down through the gaps in the railway ties. It looked like the moose took a wrong step and its legs fell through the space between the railway ties. I shutter to think about it’s last moments. All four legs hanging helplessly in the air while its body is held up by the railway ties. That was probably when the predator found it.
1. Is That A UFO
I’m a biologist with the BLM. One morning just after sunrise while camping in the middle of a large sagebrush basin, my crew and I had just woken up. Right as I go to take my morning wee, I see something streaking across the sky. It left a contrail like a plane but was much smaller and moving fast. Really fast. It was extremely bright in the glow of the morning light too. It only lasted about 10 seconds maybe and then it twirled and fizzled into nothing. My crew and I all looked at each other and said nothing for a minute in utter confusion. We spent the whole rest of the trip bickering about what it could be. Turns out it was a test missile launched from a range in Gallop, New Mexico. You’d think they would warn people before testing that sort of thing. It was in the paper when we got back to civilization.