Park Rangers Reveal The Absolute Creepiest Things They've Seen While On Duty.
1. I once led a trip to the top of Mt. Sterling in North Carolina. 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 PM. 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 and 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 AM. 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.
2. "I'm a ranger at Yellowstone. Couple weeks ago I was exploring the Lamar Valley, about 11 miles from the nearest road and even further to the park boundary.
There, in the middle of the trail, is a perfectly severed deer head. No blood, no raggedness at the severance. Perfectly in tact.
This is weird because I have seen wolf and bear kills, and I used to find cougar kills in SD with radio tracking just after the cougar made them.
This was not any of those things. The head was completely uneaten - eyes, tongue, everything intact. Even the ravens hadn't touched it yet. No caching, no scat. Right smack in the trail, but again, no blood.
Even a human doing it made no conventional sense. It was a doe so it had no antlers, plus, why leave it in the trail?
Whole thing, even in broad daylight, gave me chills. Just an ocean of waving grass, bison calmly grazing, and a perfectly clean deer head right on the path."
3. A shed behind an abandoned house with a steel reinforced door broken off the hinges. The windows of the shed were boarded up from the outside. The only thing inside the shed was a queen size bed with shredded, partly singed white sheets.
4. Camping 80+ miles from any thing resembling civilization. Lying in the tent talking before falling asleep when all of the sudden a gunshot rings out no more than 100 yards away. Then hearing the sound slowly travel away. Then quiet.
5. [I saw] a human thumb nailed to a tree.
6. There was a group of teens that hadn't been heard from after their scheduled return time from a camping trip. [A coworker] 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 35km 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 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 notice 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 kilometers east of us, and they're calling everybody back. All those weird things we had seen from the day before came flooding back into my mind, and we wasted no time hiking out of those woods.
7. I am a seasonal ranger for my local forest district. The rest of the rangers say we find about one suicide a year. When we go around opening parks each day, we drive through to make sure everything is OK. In 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. He had hung himself. 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 a dead guy in a tree for an hour.
8. 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 up 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 (chiding 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 kills stashes 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.
9. Our park lets kids from school in so they can look for animals in the forest and the streams.
One day a kid finds molars. The teeth looked like human molars, but the teacher said they were a deer's. I dismissed it and completely forgot about it.
Two days later, they found a corpse with a smashed skull and jaw in another part of the park. All its teeth were missing.
A local news paper covered it, but all they had to say was thank the spooky skeletons for good bones and teeth.
10. US Forest Service here: dog skeleton, still leashed to a tree, bullet hole in skull.
11. [I saw] the remains of a plane that had crashed into a cliff. Found out later that it had crashed a few years before and there had just never been the proper resources to remove the wreckage, but finding a place you know people have died in is weird.
12. I have been a ranger in the southern Canadian Rockies for a few years. One Sunday morning, I was doing my daily patrols, saw some smoke from afar, and thought I would check it out. When I arrived on the scene, there was a group of people half-naked (only sexual parts exposed), dressed up as animals all curled up in a ball passed out on the ground. Probably one of the weirdest things I have come across.
13. 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.
14. 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. Really nice guy though. He offered to help us out with our survey any way that he could.
15. For several years I worked out in the forests of a country that experienced a genocide 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, and sure enough. 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.
16. I worked for a summer camp a while ago that was out in the wilderness.Have you ever heard a rabbit dying? It sounds like a screaming and crying baby. That mixed with darkness and being alone is terrifying.
17. I'm doing some subcontracting work marking borders for the state of Massachusetts, meaning I walk around all day blazing 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 6 foot tall 180 lb man just came crashing out of the woods wearing no shirt, covered in paint, holding an axe. He commented that my axe 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 brisk walk while checking back over his shoulder every few seconds.
18. 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 doctors appointment that was scheduled 2 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.
Here's a picture of the letter:
19. 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? because 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.Niskanen204
20. Honest to goodness, I once encountered a bear orgy. It was deep in Rocky Mountain National park about 15 years ago. I was hiking and I came across 5 or 6 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.
21. From my experience, which is admittedly lacking (only been in the profession for a year) the most startling parts of the wilderness are not the wildlife you run into, but the people.
We were out on a spike trip once and we were hiking a rarely used trail (more like a goat path) and there was some rustling off in the woods. Usually we have a Ranger with us who carries a weapon, but we try to avoid confrontation. We assumed it was a deer or at worst, a bear, but when we got close enough to see, it was two men going at it. They hiked over 10miles into the woods and then had sex no more than 15 feet from the only trail. It was startling.
22. Not my own story but this 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 kind of got separated. There were three of them and the one I know (I'll call him Joe though that's not his name) was calling for the other two when he spies someone who was crouching near the ground 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 hears his actual buddies respond to his calls behind him.
He just very slowly backed away and ran for it.
Quitting a job can be a liberating feeling, but it can also be scary as hell... especially if you don't have another job waiting for you on the horizon.
Thanks to Redditor BurningDruid13, we have some answers to the following question: "Have you ever quit a job, without another lined up, for your mental health? How did it turn out?"