Time outdoors often brings comfort to those in the form of sunshine, cookouts, friends, and serenity. But, not every camping or wilderness trip turns out to be as tranquil as we'd like. Here, people share stories of the creepiest thing they've ever encountered in the wilderness.
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Witnessing a crime.
I used to hitchhike so I’ve got buttloads of creepy stories. Probably the creepiest I can remember is when I was hiking through the deep south, in northern Louisiana.
I was north of a small town called Quitman out in the woods. It’s pretty heavily forested up there and fairly rural. I had been passing through this forested area on an old county highway at just about midnight. So, I’m minding my own business but my ears are always alert (I had been on the road continuously at that point for about four years). I see some strange blue light off in the trees to my right.
I’m like, “What is that?” So, I kinda walk a little slower and I can see it’s headed towards the road, but it’s about 100 feet in front of me. So, I can tell if it hits the road it’ll be in front of me. I stand still, not really sure what to do. It’s getting closer and closer to the road and then it goes out of view. I walk a little farther and can see that the road is curving to the right.
I quietly peak around the corner and as I get farther up i see an old beater of a truck parked on the side of the road with its lights off, engine quietly running. There’s these two old men with wizard beards hauling plastic jugs of liquid into the bed of the truck. One of them has a blue headlamp and he’s the one that came from the woods. Only then as I hid quietly did I realize I had discovered and was witnessing moonshine bootleggers going about their business.
Not at all what I expected.
One step closer.
I went hiking with a group of three other guys. We started on a trail, but then slowly made our way off. We grew up doing the same and were very familiar with the woods. We had backpacks with us, plenty of water, a whistle, and one weapon. I’m not a weapons person, but I always make sure to have something with us when we go hiking, because of personal reasons. Like I said, me and my buddies had done this way thousands of times and it all felt very normal and safe for us. The terrain was nothing too crazy, so we didn’t need and climbing gear for anything.
We were walking in somewhat familiar territory when we noticed a man a bit up ahead leaned over with one of his hands posted up on a tree. We looked around and didn’t see anyone else and he didn’t appear to have any gear. We got within about 50 feet and yelled out to him, making sure everything was alright. Also seeing if he needed medical attention for anything as he was leaned over. The guy didn’t say anything back. Not feeling stupid enough, we sort of circled around the guy, keeping the distance about the same, but trying to get a better view. We yelled out again. No answer. One of the guys walked up a bit closer and noticed the guy had a huge knife/machete. He stopped immediately and yelled back “weapon.” The man posted up on the tree heard him yell “weapon” and immediately stood up and faced up, still holding his knife/machete. My other friend brandished his weapon and yelled to the guy “Hey, man, we don’t want any trouble. Don’t come any closer with that.” The guy on the tree still didn’t say anything, but took a step towards us. Our friend that had closed the gap started back-peddling slowly while my friend with the weapon took a step towards the guy, repeating, “Don’t come any closer.”
The guy didn’t seem to care, he still didn’t say anything. He took one step and stopped. Took a step and stopped. He was playing some sort of game in his mind. My friend with the weapon decided it wasn’t worth the risk and told us to leave quickly. He started to back-peddle, too, quicker. The guy at the tree never really quickened his pace. Just took one step every other second. As soon as we felt comfortable by putting more distance between us, we all ran, looking back occasionally. We called it in after we felt we had lost the guy, saying some lunatic was out in the middle of the woods with a weapon and was a potential danger. Scared the heck out of me for a good bit.
I was walking through a very dense forest in the UK, it was late summer (August I think). It’s just getting dark and I am heading back to the camp after a long day of hiking. I don’t have my torch with me but I do have my phone out and its screen is bright (back before we had the torch app on smartphones).
I spotted a couple of dudes standing over this hole in the ground, they had two spades and were busy pushing something heavy in there. It wasn’t a a body but it was something that was metallic and it clanged as it went in.
They stood by the hole, said a few words then began to shovel earth on top.
I didn’t want to know.
When your friend can’t see the light.
Went on a “day camping” trip with my friend and her boyfriend that she had recently met on the internet. We are out in the middle of NOWHERE. We were in Montana without a soul around. There was no cell reception and I’m not from Montana so I don’t really know where we are. This dude is way bigger than either she or I (we’re both petite girls).
The creepiness starts while we’re driving around off-roading in my friend’s mom’s truck looking for a place to park and set up camp. My friend’s boyfriend is driving. We come across a potential spot and she and I get out to scope it out. While we’re doing this, he backs the truck out and starts to drive away! I turn to my friend and say what is he doing? And she starts to run after him waving him down. He finally stops about a quarter mile away and lets us in. He doesn’t say anything and she just brushes it off as “Well he must not have liked that spot.”
We find a different spot up the road and this time I wait until he gets out of the car before I get out. I tell my friend that she should hold onto the keys. He starts getting really quiet and sulky and won’t help us set up our site. Then he starts walking away in one direction without saying a word and… just keeps walking. My friend runs after him to catch up with him and ask him if everything is okay. When she does catch up to him and stops to catch her breath, he turns around and starts walking in the other direction without saying a word to her.
He comes back to the site and starts rolling around on the ground in the dirt. At this point I tell her we need to go. She says everything is fine and I am ruining the trip by not just having a good attitude and trying to get along. He keeps rolling and acting bizarre so she finally agrees to leave.
He is still the one driving and as we’re headed back, out of nowhere he stops the truck and just sits there. Then he gets out of the truck and starts walking around a pile of rocks and wood. I tell her that if he does anything that makes me seriously think he’s gonna hurt us, I have pepper spray with me and I won’t hesitate to use it. Eventually he gets back in the truck and mumbles something about just wanting to check it out.
He didn’t kill us and nothing else happened, but I felt really freaking vulnerable out there in the middle of nowhere with no one but my delusional friend and this creepy internet stranger. It actually cost our friendship because she simply didn’t want to see that there was anything wrong with anything that happened that day and she couldn’t wait to see him again.
A lost traveler.
Not my story but it happened to my grandfather. He likes to deer hunt. He goes out around 3 a.m. and will stay out until daylight.
He told me one day he had no luck and decided to pack up and head back out to his car, which was quite a ways out . As he was walking through the woods he noticed his footsteps seemed a lot louder then they should be and this continued on for another 10-15 minutes. At the time it was still pretty much pitch black out in the woods so he couldn’t see anything behind him. He started to panic when he realized someone was in fact following him. He pulled up his bow and arrow and said, “I can hear you, if you don’t show yourself I’m sending this arrow straight back.” And he heard a man say, “Wait wait! I’m just lost and I was following you to find my way out!” He actually ended up helping the man but he made him walk in front of him the rest of the way. Grandpa told me like he felt like he had other intentions.
Let’s not meet again
This happened about six years ago. I was about 12 and my brother was 26 at the time. My brother had been serving in the U.S. Army for several years when this happened and was deploying to the Middle East on his second deployment. He is a Green Beret and had recently (three or four months prior to this trip) completed the Army Special Forces Qualification Course (Robin Sage and all that), and by then was an active duty SF Engineer Sergeant. Definitely not someone you’d want to mess around with.
Given that we both grew up with a passion for the outdoors, he thought it would be nice to take me on a backpacking trip in northern Alabama (the Sipsey Wilderness for those familiar with the area) before he left for nine months.
The trip had gone smoothly up until the third night we were camping out. Around 8 p.m. we had our camp set up, eaten dinner, and were sitting by the fire talking about typical boy stuff.
For some reference, our spot was about 50 yards from a large stream, and about 50 yards downhill adjacent to the large path. Our camp, the stream, and the path formed a triangle of sorts.
This was summertime in Alabama, so it wasn’t quite dark yet when two guys, who looked to be in their late 20s, wandered up and ask if we had seen any hogs while we were hiking around. Given that this is rural Alabama, we actually had seen some farther into the wilderness area and told them so.
Even though they were relatively polite I got a seriously creepy vibe from them. They had dirty clothes, greasy hair, scraggly facial hair, etc. I think they probably looked like they belonged in the movie Deliverance.
They kinda hung out for a few minutes, maybe a little longer than they should have. They were looking around, asking us questions like how long we had been out there, how long we were staying, and what looked like them kinda sizing us up. They then abruptly said goodbye and walked away. I didn’t necessarily feel threatened by them, and I know for sure my brother didn’t, but I still felt uneasy about the whole thing.
Fast forward three or four hours. My brother and I had gone to sleep and were nestled in our tent when I woke to the sound of multiple dogs barking. I’ve always been a heavy sleeper and they sounded like they were only about 100 yards away. My heart immediately started pounding and I kicked my brother through my sleeping bag and asked if he was awake/had heard the dogs. He responded, “I’m awake. They’ve been getting closer for the past hour or so, just lay still and don’t make any sounds.” Needless to say, 12-year-old me was about to poop my pants. We would also hear sporadic shouts from several different sources but neither came any closer. A few minutes later my brother whispered, “They’re just hunting for hogs. They use the dogs to pin them down and then they shoot them.” This gave me some relief, but not much. Somehow I managed to fall back asleep. The fact that they were doing this at night was a huge red flag my brother later told me, but I think he was just trying to keep me calm.
Fast forward what was probably another three hours, around 2 a.m. I had managed to sleep pretty well after first hearing the hog hunters when I woke up to my brother squeezing my shoulder firmly, saying, “Wake up. Put your shoes on quick and follow me, be as quiet as you can.” My heart immediately went back to racing because I heard the dogs and voices in the distance, farther away than before but still distinct. Not asking any questions, I did what he said and as soon as we were out of the tent he told me to get on his back (this was a breeze for him after rucking with God knows how much weight in the Army). We snuck about 50 yards into the woods towards the junction of the path and the stream and crawled into some bushes. It was up a hill so we had a pretty good elevated view of our campsite.
I remember as we were laying there how loudly I was breathing and how quiet he was when I heard the very distinct sound of a loaded weapon slide racking. I looked over and my brother had his loaded weapons and was watching the campsite and surrounding area. I started to whisper to him when he put his hand over my mouth and pointed at the campsite.
The group of hunters had been steadily approaching our camp and by this time (30 or so minutes) had reached it. There were five of them and, like, three or four dogs. They all looked relatively young but two had loaded weapons and the dogs were going crazy, obviously having smelled our scent.
For those of you who are backpackers/campers, nobody who comes up on a random camp in the middle of the night with dogs and loaded weapons and has good intentions. I knew this, and my brother knew this. I was scared. I couldn’t make out what they were saying, but my brother later told me they were talking about us, although he hadn’t heard any specifics either.
They lingered for about 20 minutes shining flashlights around and talking to themselves when my brother put his mouth to my ear and said, “If they come towards I want you to turn and run as quickly as you can. Don’t stop, don’t look back, stay off the trail, and look for the flashing lights.” (I didn’t know what he meant by this but that’ll come later.) I knew I could make it back because he had taught me ‘land navigation’ pretty well. He then handed me a flashlight and told me not to take the red filter off. He told me later that the red filter helps preserve night vision and cuts down ambient light so it would be harder for someone to see from a distance.
At this point I was so scared I almost started crying, but at the same time had a rush of adrenaline and what I think now was confidence that he thought I could handle myself.
We laid there for awhile longer when out of nowhere they started screaming, “WHERE YALL AT?!” and firing into the woods at random. My brother dragged me back behind the crest of the hill and threw himself on top of me. Thankfully our position on top of the hill we were protected from any shots.
They shot maybe five or six more times and then started walking back the direction they had come. They got maybe 100 yards away when I heard a blaring siren and saw emergency lights flashing through the woods. Turns out my brother had called the Forest Service Office on a satellite phone my family has for emergencies while I was asleep and they had sent out Forest Service officers and game wardens to our area of the wilderness. The Sipsey Wilderness is about 25,000 acres in size so it took them awhile to get there on the dirt roads.
When we saw the game warden truck my brother signalled them with the light and pointed them in the direction the hunters had gone and the guy sped off shining his spotlight through the woods.
As soon as they were all gone we went back to our camp, packed up our stuff and waited by the path for the game warden to come back, who then gave us a ride in his truck bed back to the main staging area.
On the drive back my brother told me how brave I had been and that we would talk about it with our parents the next day if I wanted to. I asked him not to do that because I thought they might never let me go camp again.
Creepy rednecks in the woods, let’s not meet again. You might get shot next time.
Silence of the lambs.
On one of my rare trips out into the wilderness, I was walking in the middle of nowhere on some kind of natural trail, possibly made by deer. I was looking for a place to rest and it was beginning to turn to dusk — light enough to keep going for a while, but the shadows were deepening and the edges of the trail were too dark to see properly.
As I walk, I hear a sheep baaing. At first it doesn’t strike me as unusual because hearing a sheep in the country doesn’t seem out of place. Then I hear it again, directly from the shadows to my left, and two things hit me at once. One, this is deep wilderness and there is no farmland around me. Two, the baaing sounds too perfect. It sounds like somebody doing a really good impression of a sheep, but as I hear it again I realise it’s the same pitch and length each time, like a recording. The more I hear it, the more unnerving it gets.
I keep walking, and seconds later I draw even with it. As I walk past I catch a glimpse of a figure crouched in the bushes just off the trail, and a flash of teeth as (I assume) whoever or whatever was there grinned at me. I did not stop anywhere near there that night.
This here is my tree.
I and three others were camping somewhere in the woods at night. One of us had to go to the bathroom so he went to the nearest tree and started unzipping. Apparently there was some bird of prey right above him in that tree because a few seconds later there were some unholy loud and weird screeching sounds coming from three meters above him. Have never seen someone again who could abort the deed so quickly.
To give an impression how loud that bird was: people standing 250/300meters away from us came to check on us because they thought we were being attacked or assaulted.
Not so much creepy but definitely nerve-racking and embarrassing.
I was camping and to enter the campsite (which was just a farmers field) you have to cross over a disused rail track. Now as one usually does after a few drink and greasy junk food, I had to go poop. There was a perfectly suitable tree to lean against and do my business that was close to the rail track and would keep me out of sight of the others I was camping with.
So down to business I get, perfect trouser placement (only down to just above the knees for those wondering how to poop in the wilderness) and back firmly and securely placed against the tree. Now I know what most of you are probably thinking at this point: “That wasn’t a disused rail line.” Well, you’d be wrong. But that doesn’t stop people from walking down it, or in this case, going for an afternoon jog with your dog.
The whole encounter was fairly cordial to be honest, I spotted him before he spotted me but there was no time to do anything about it. After he briefly glanced my way and immediately knew what was going on, he let out a gentle “Morning,” to which I replied, “Morning.” He then followed up with, while steadily increasing his pace to escape this horrendous situation we’ve found ourselves in, “Camping eh? I’m just up the lake and there’s nowhere quite like what you’ve found to take a decent poop.”
And that was that. Or so I thought.
Having a good chuckle and a few drinks later that evening around the camp fire, my girlfriend needed the toilet, and I told her about the tree which is perfect for doing such business only 30 feet away. So, off she goes into the darkness, only to seconds later let out a surprised yelp. As she comes running back towards us, hot on her heels is the dog I saw with the man earlier. Now we were the only people on this campsite/farmers field, so as she’s coming back towards us, clearly flustered, she stated that she’d just literally rubbed elbows with some guy taking a dump resting against the tree as she had her pants halfway down. We were understandably confused. The devil’s lettuce and witches brew probably didn’t help the situation.
The whole ordeal came to a close when an angry “Harold” was shouted from the darkness and the dog ran away, followed by the sound of crunching stones underfoot synonymous with the pebbling used to scatter around rail tracks.
And that’s my story of the midnight mystery pooper.
“Did you hear that?”
My buddy and I were backpacking in Pennsylvania when we found a nice camp under some trees. While setting up he asked me, “Did you hear that?” I told him I did not. Then he asked me my opinion on hunters as it was deer season and there were hunters also in the forest. I told him I didn’t mind them as long as they didn’t shoot me. A moment later two men with crossbows descended from the trees directly above us. They we’re a little mad and told us we scared off some deer but just sulked off down the trail. I don’t know how we didn’t see them.
My family is originally from the USSR. My dad and his buddies used to go on long and very cool kayaking and hiking trips every summer. The trips were about a month long and were usually far away from civilization. One of their last trips before we immigrated was to Northern Siberia, to a very remote region with a whole lot of rivers. They were very far north, but this was the height of summer, so the weather was great. The problem was that they were so far north that there was significant compass variation where magnetic north was far enough from True North for the compass to be completely useless without a correction. They had no idea that this was a thing that happened and had no idea how off their orientation was. Imagine being that lost, and not knowing that your compass could mislead you like that. It must have seemed supernatural.
They got absolutely and irredeemably lost. They stayed lost for about a week. Food and water were fine – plentiful fish and some game, and very clean rivers. The problem was that the summer is very short and if they continued to be lost they would get killed by the weather in a few weeks. Luckily for everyone involved, they ran into a party of geologists that were on a prospecting trip. They told them the compass variation error and pointed them towards the nearest town (still a week’s trip away).
That’s just an animal, right?
A couple years ago, me and two of my buddies decided to go camping out in Pisgah. We didn’t go to a designated campground, but just hiked for a while and found a spot where others had camped.
The spot was solid and we did the usual camping stuff and put anything that could have smelled or attracted any animals far away from our site. Right when we got in our tent, it started raining like mad and we all passed out.
In the middle of the night, some loud thunder woke us up and we were checking our watches to see what time it was when we heard these voices that sounded like little kids somewhere nearby and towards the direction of our food.
We couldn’t hear them well and just assumed another hiking group had found our food, but then I realized that I was only hearing kids voices— it sounded like five or six-year-olds. I thought for sure they were animal noises but then I heard a child’s, high-pitch laughter. It scared the heck out of me. The voices eventually stopped and I assumed I must have just been imagining it and I looked over at my buddy in my tent who was also white as a ghost.
I was about to ask if he was hearing the same thing I was and then we started hearing footsteps walking towards us. They were soft enough that I kept telling myself that it was an animal, but it got so close to our tent that i could hear the individual wet leaves crushing underneath these steps.
At this point, I’m about to wet my pants because I may be a big guy, but I hate scary stuff. The footsteps got so close that It looked as if it was right outside our tents. And then, without anything else happening it just walked away.
My friend and I didn’t speak and just laid there for a couple hours and then passed out after the adrenaline had cooled down. To this day, we don’t talk about it, but I wish I had looked out the tent.