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Topic: Ever run into any trouble on the trail?, Trail muggers, etc..< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 16 2012, 8:34 pm  Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I wasnt sure how to phrase that OP title, so I went with "trouble". Most of us will never have any trouble and the people we meet will be great, but over the years I have occasionally heard stories of people running into hiker-moochers/bums, as well as people who get aggressive and make demands for food, gear, etc. I was just reading one of the myriad of different backpacking websites, and read about several hikers who had run into some Vietnam vet hiker guy called "Papa Smurf" as I recall, and most people either described this guy and his merry band of trouble makers as scary, dangerous, threatening, etc. It was even said that a hiker was found dead somewhere along the trail, or just off the trail a couple years ago, and he was a member of this guy's band of moochers.

There was also a girl who was killed down south somewhere while out backpacking. There was an AT sniper back in the 90's who shot at least one person or more.

But I'm not just talking about that sort of trouble, as I also wonder about people leaving their cars at game land parking lots for a few days while out hiking, and whether people here know anyone who's car was broken into or stolen while they were miles away from it?

Has anyone ever ran into any of these issues, and how do you prepare for any eventuality in case you run into people who might not be so friendly? Have you heard about people who had trouble of any kind?

**BTW: The vast, overwhelming majority of people that we may run into are usually good people, and 99%+ of the time there is nothing to worry about, and in fact most people will go out of their way to be helpful if needed. This thread is about the other 1% or less.
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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 16 2012, 8:37 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

The comforting fact is that you are at greater risk from troublesome people anywhere else in the world than you are in the woods in the U.S.

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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 16 2012, 9:16 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

In about 2500 trail miles....

Never.


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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 16 2012, 9:20 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

On trail, no, at a trailhead, yes.  Problem handled, 'nuf said about it.

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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 16 2012, 9:54 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Been uncomfortable once or twice.  Once sufficiently so that I hiked extra mileage to get to my car rather than camp anywhere near the guys that bothered me.  (Wasn't just me.  I was hiking with another guy, a random trail-met hiker, and he was the one who suggested we might want to hike on out that night.  In my case, I hit my car and got a hotel.  For him, it was hike a few miles on the other side of the highway en route to Canada).

One other time I put some distance between myself and a hiker because, I'm ashamed to admit, he seemed woefully unprepared, at least psychologically, and I just didn't want to have to take responsibility for him.

Never had a car broken into or anything at a TH, though once we came back from a hike and found we had a flat tire (from natural causes).


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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 16 2012, 10:32 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I've crossed paths with a few sketchy characters, but never felt in any serious danger.  The most frequent (and to me most worrisome) incidents have been with poachers and illegal ATVers.  

And I did this more than once:

QUOTE

... I put some distance between myself and a hiker because, I'm ashamed to admit, he seemed woefully unprepared, at least psychologically, and I just didn't want to have to take responsibility for him.


The oddest one was in the Wallowas (OR), about 10 miles from the TH, I met a guy who claimed to have spent much of his adult life there.  His problem was that not only was he far from the TH, he was hours of walking and two valleys from where he thought he was, had no food or water, and wasn't even wearing a shirt, much less carrying extra clothes.  (Nighttime temps were in the 20s).  Besides that, he was well-pickled and at least moderately baked.  He asked me a few questions that I didn't like, and when he turned his back, I vanished like smoke.  I was probably two miles down the trail before he knew which way I went.  (I did get him properly oriented first, and there was a lake to drink from.  He could easily have walked out before dark).
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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 16 2012, 10:42 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I've had a car broken into at the trailhead twice, both times at the Red River Gorge. I met a couple of sketchy characters that visited my camp on the Big South Fork, but I handled it without any trouble. For the most part, I've met some charming and delightful, at worst somewhat eccentric people while hiking at locations all around the country.

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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 16 2012, 11:29 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

For the most part all my hikes have been great, though there have been some colorful instances from time to time.  Depends on were I have gone hiking, though the good thing is I am still around to contemplate the, what ifs. :)

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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 17 2012, 12:13 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Had my car window broken but that's about it. Had a freak out once but that's because I didn't expect to run into someone while hiking off-trail in a section that I would expect to find someone. He didn't expect to find anyone either. We just looked at each other I continued to walk on without looking back...but felt his eyes burning after I went by and it sent a chill up my spine. He obviously didn't want to be found and I just tried to respect it as best I could.

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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 17 2012, 12:25 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I dont expect to run into any troubles when I go on my next trip in the next few weeks, but I have 2 issues, and I may be able to solve both issues with one tool.

I dont really have a great multi-tool. I bought a small-ish Gerber Suspension multi-tool, and discovered that its steel seems really soft compared to other knives I've owned. I decided to hone it a little with the sharpening steel from my JA Henckels knife set, which wont even begin to sharpen my superior Kai Shun knives because of their hardness, but after a few strokes on that multi-tool, it had taken a few millimeters off of the blade! Thats some soft steel!

So I will not be bringing it, and I really dont want to buy another one right now, and I dont have the time anyway, so the only other option is to bring one of my other 2 knives...... The choice would be A. My Himalayan Imports WW2 Kukri or my Ontario Kukri. Both have blades of around 16-17". The Himalayan Imports model has a blade that is almost 1/2" thick so its just too heavy, and too nice to use, so the $75 Ontario Kukri with its 3/8" blade will be the knife I'll bring.

It's a chopper, so it will be great for firewood, and the people of Nepal use them as multi-tools and have been for hundreds of years, so I'll try it out. But it will be supreme for dissuading potential troublemakers! Its just heavy...
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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 17 2012, 12:37 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

That's what bear spray is for...

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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 17 2012, 5:41 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

The worst I've encountered were two guys shooting up when I walked past just off the AT.  One looked like he'd already taken his hit, the other was prepping a syringe.  Now, I'd lost the trail and was attempting to find it again by following what looked like a well-traveled area.  They weren't expecting anyone else to come through there.  The one who hadn't shot up stood up and became immediately aggressive, the other one looked too confused.  In the end, I left them sitting there, they had been persuaded that I wasn't a problem to them that day and the adrenalin rush helped me get down that trail a little quicker.

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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 17 2012, 8:47 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

A friend and I were on an overnight backpack on the Knobstone Trail in southern Indiana.  We arrived back at the trailhead on Sunday morning to find that his Honda had been turned onto it's side against a tree.  We were, of course, stunned.  We walked to a nearby residence[before cell phones] and called a wrecker,  which set the car upright.  Would you believe there were only a few minor scratches on the drivers side door?  There were beer cans strewn about the parking area. so I guess a few of the local boys had a fun night.
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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 17 2012, 10:09 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

About 50 wilderness nights per year over the last 20 years here and have never felt safer any place than I do in the wilderness.  I have been mugged while running in the suburbs and have had my vehicle broken into twice while parked in the city and the 'burbs.

I agree with the comment that there is no safer place to be than in the woods in the USA.
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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 17 2012, 11:09 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

None that I can remember.

I prefer to hike with my dog when I'm solo.  I'm pretty sure that I'm not going to suddenly turn into Lara Croft in a threatening situation...  I don't consider my hiking knife to be a defensive tool.


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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 17 2012, 11:14 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I was hiking alone on the AT in December. I was headed to Telephone Pioneer Shelter for the night. I had heard from friends that a couple of homeless folks had been hanging around the shelter. When I got there, there was gear scattered inside the shelter. A young guy showed up saying he was being paid by a trail maintainer to do work. He said there was another older guy helping him. We had a conversation about trail maintenance. We both made dinner, I could see he was short on food so I shared my food with him. It got dark early, se we spent the evening talking about the trail.
He related 'suspect' stories about living on the streets of NY. I slept with one eye open. The next AM after breakfast, I gave him the rest of my food as I had a resupply in the next town. On the way out I ran into a sheriff, the old man, a social worker and the AT trail rep for the area on their way into the shelter. The sheriff and AT rep asked me about the kid, if I spent the night there, was I threatened ect. I told them of our conversations, the kid was still there. Apparently, they were going to get the older guy into a old person's home of some type and the young kid had warrants from NYC.  

On the same trip in VT, I stayed at a cabin South of VT 9 on the AT with a guy who was supposedly heading to Canada on the AT. His gear did not support his claim, as it was winter. We talked of hiking the trail and though he seemed a little 'off', we shared the cabin and its wood stove. I was happy to get out of there the next AM.
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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 17 2012, 11:27 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Marmots chewed the lining off my car hood at Mineral King. Does that count?:)

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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 17 2012, 11:31 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

So far only once have I felt uneasy about someone going to cause a problem. My wife and I were on a canoe camping trip on the Namekagon River in NW Wisconsin. We were camped at a canoe in campsite and were sleeping when my wife woke me and said she heard voices. This was around 1:30 in the AM. So I listen and sure enough hear some voices coming down a trail. Two guys were drunk and were kinda argueing with each other. They had come down a closed forest service road and were going to go fishing. I shined them with both of my headlamps on high beam and yelled at them what were they doing. They were kinda startled at first but said they had come to fish here at this campsite. The one started giving me some crap at first but his friend said lets just leave, Needless to say my wife was scared and had a hard time getting back to sleep as she was afraid they may come back and attack us. So we always look now when out canoe camping for roads that are close by and avoid those campsites.
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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 17 2012, 11:54 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Only once.  It was fall in the Absarokas and my boys and I had hiked in about three miles when we came to a clearing in the national forest which had obvioulsly been used as a horse camp many times in the past.  Since it was late we decided to camp there.  Not long after we were settled in a trio of horse mounted hunters came in and told use we had to move since this was their camp.  When I pointed out it was national forest land and didn't belong to them anymore than to us, they became somewhat belligerent and argued that they had been using this camp for years and they had first rigts to it.  When it became clear that we were not going to back down they muttered a few curses and moved on but not before fingering their rifles in an somewhat menacing and threatening manner.  However, no more ever came of it.

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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 17 2012, 12:02 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

four years ago, I did a six day, one-way solo trip in the North Cascades in September. I hardly saw anyone, until the last 1.5 days which were on the PCT.

Now, there had been stories that month about a criminal who was a fugitive hiding out on the PCT in WA. I wasn't too worried about it, since where I was was one of the most remote places on the whole PCT, in terms of distance from roads, so I figured even if it were true, he'd be very unlikely to make it that far into the wilds.

Anyway, my last night, as I was reading by headlamp over the last of my fire, a solo through-hiker pulled into my camp . He was pretty socially awkward, and I suddenly remembered about the guy supposedly on the lam. I was a bit on edge that night: I actually took my trekking poles into the tent with me in case I needed a weapon.

He was harmless--he was gone before dawn, in fact. Some other through-hikers told me that he was completely harmless but something of a recluse, although he was considerably more social in September than he had been in April when they all started.
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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 17 2012, 12:20 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

No, but I carry a Glock, an ax, a machete, a 12 gauge riot gun, pepper spray, a few shoulder fired SAMs and my trusty boy scout knife.  You can never be too careful in the wilderness.
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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 17 2012, 12:43 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(Lamebeaver @ Oct. 17 2012, 9:20 am)
QUOTE
No, but I carry a Glock, an ax, a machete, a 12 gauge riot gun, pepper spray, a few shoulder fired SAMs and my trusty boy scout knife.  You can never be too careful in the wilderness.

Me too, except I traded in my Boy Scout knife for a nice and very sharp Benchmade.  Recently I have had my eye on a very nice ultralite grenade launcher which nI am considering adding to my basic trail protection.

Rumi


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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 17 2012, 12:49 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

My husband and I camped at a primitive campsite at Hontoon Island State Park here in Florida. The parking lot was across the river, the ranger came and got you and your gear in a boat, and then loaded you up in a van and drove you out into the woods to the sites. There were a cluster of maybe 8 sites together and then a few cabins up closer to the Ranger station, with bathrooms.

We were completely alone in the campground until almost dusk. Then the Ranger showed up and unloaded 2 guys and a girl (college age, granted only about 5-7 yes younger then us). They chose the site right next to us. At first, we were nice and we gave them some tips about bear bagging food or closing up the coolers really tight when they had a raccoon run off with a loaf of bread. But over the course of the evening, they got more and more drunk. The girl took off most of her clothes and was wearing a sports bra and her panties. The guys started to argue. We went into the tent and played cards.

Much later (around 2am) there was a bunch of noise and yelling and we tried our best to ignore it. We were able to go back to sleep. The next morning, the Ranger came over to ask what we had heard or seen. Apparently, the two drunk guys 'left something in their truck' and walked back up to the Ranger station (about 2 miles) and stole a canoe and paddled across the river to retrieve whatever it was, and then one guy fell asleep in the truck and the other guy made it back to camp.

Needless to say, the Ranger was not happy and he escorted the whole party out of the state park. We stayed and day hiked around and didn't leave until well past lunch time....


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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 17 2012, 1:16 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Had my car busted into once.  Knocked out the door lock, swiped a few things from the inside (like a pair of shoes and used socks), and a few extra keys in the glovebox (not the car key, just some work keys that I took off the chain, I take all keys with me now), not much else.

Beyond that, nothing much.  Nobody's given me issues out on the trail.


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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 17 2012, 2:20 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I just remembered another potentially deadly situation in the national and state parks on the west coast. I have watched a few documentations about this problem.

It seems the Mexican drug cartels arent content with just growing weed in Mexico and sending it up here on the backs off illegal immigrants with heroin and cocaine, so they have been setting up big grow spots out in west coast park, forests, etc. Then they send in a few illegals who stay there and guard these grows, and they are all armed. They truck in pesticides, chemical fertilizers, some of which are banned in the US, and they set up near springs or streams where they can siphon water to the crops for irrigation. They truck food items out there and throw the trash all over the land nearby.

Then they stay there for months on end, trashing the place and dumping chemicals into the streams and onto the lands. Problem is, if you get off the trail and wander up on them, your chances of walking away alive are slim if not non-existent because they dont want you to report their grow.

They say that people go into the woods out there hiking, and never return, then later they find these grows in the vicinity where the lost hiker(s) were supposed to be!

Another in the myriad of reasons we need more border security!
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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 17 2012, 2:23 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(GoBlueHiker @ Oct. 17 2012, 1:16 pm)
QUOTE
Had my car busted into once.  Knocked out the door lock, swiped a few things from the inside (like a pair of shoes and used socks), and a few extra keys in the glovebox (not the car key, just some work keys that I took off the chain, I take all keys with me now), not much else.

Beyond that, nothing much.  Nobody's given me issues out on the trail.

Maybe renting a car and paying the extra $8 a day for the additional insurance is a good idea, so that if your car is broken into, its not really your car, and with their insurance, you're own insurance rates arent affected if there is vandalism to the vehicle.
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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 17 2012, 2:27 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(CharlesTheHammer @ Oct. 17 2012, 12:23 pm)
QUOTE

(GoBlueHiker @ Oct. 17 2012, 1:16 pm)
QUOTE
Had my car busted into once.  Knocked out the door lock, swiped a few things from the inside (like a pair of shoes and used socks), and a few extra keys in the glovebox (not the car key, just some work keys that I took off the chain, I take all keys with me now), not much else.

Beyond that, nothing much.  Nobody's given me issues out on the trail.

Maybe renting a car and paying the extra $8 a day for the additional insurance is a good idea, so that if your car is broken into, its not really your car, and with their insurance, you're own insurance rates arent affected if there is vandalism to the vehicle.

I suppose, if it happened often.  But considering it's happened once in roughly the past 15-or-so years of parking at trailheads many times a year, that doesn't seem like a beneficial investment in the long term, to me anyway.  I'd be out at least several thousand on rental car charges in that same period.


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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 17 2012, 4:10 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Not on the trail or far-off trailheads.  City park parking lots and truck stops/fuel stops/parking lots while driving en route to the TH is a different story.

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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 17 2012, 9:47 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I had my truck broke into last year at a TH on the AT. Other than that I've met some colorful folks out on the tail. Never felt threatened though.
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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 17 2012, 10:52 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic.  Ignore posts   QUOTE

No problems in the US of A - except for mosquitoes

I did have a problem years ago in El Salvador during their revolution -  but thankfully that turned out okay.
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» Quick Reply Ever run into any trouble on the trail?
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