24 Park Rangers, Campers, And Backpackers Describe The Weirdest Things They’ve Seen In The Wilderness

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When you think of creepy camping stories, you’re usually looking for scary stories to tell around a campfire. What you don’t realize, though, is that park rangers and campground workers spend most of their time in the wilderness—alone. It’s no wonder then that there are tons of creepy park ranger stores and scary backpacker stories. Spending all that time in isolation in the middle of nowhere is sure to produce some harrowing—and frightening—experiences.

White Stuffing

“I was hiking through a set of old train tunnels in Colorado with another female friend. When we got to the last (and longest) train tunnel, we both got this horrible feeling that we were being watched. We entered the tunnel, and began walking toward the other side. We kept hearing strange echoes and noises, but we both nervously laughed it off.

We had one flashlight between us and, at the middle of the tunnel, it started to die. Right before it went out, we saw this really creepy, white, faceless man-sized doll. It had been stabbed repeatedly where its face and groin would have been. White stuffing was leaking out.

We heard loud shuffling behind us. The light went out. We hauled ass and RAN to the end of the tunnel. On the way back, we took an alternate route. Neither of us ever went back to that trail.” [Source]

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There Are 3 Or 4

“Camping at Yellowstone/Grand Tetons a few years ago. He set up our camper at an actual site and decided to do some two day long backpack trips in some of the longer trails. The second one we went to was Cascade Valley Canyon. Absolutely beautiful.

So get about 10 miles into the 22-mile loop and decide to set up our tent here since it was getting dark. We cook some food and chill for a bit before heading to bed. Around 2 am, we’re all awakened by something just outside the tent. My mind immediately jumps to bears or wolves or something.

Then it starts talking. I will never forget it. “I think there’s 3 or 4 in the tent. Let’s just get out of here.”

None of us could sleep the rest of the night. At the crack of dawn we high tail it out of there. Made excellent time. Hiked the 12 miles in about 3 hours and got to ranger station. Reported what happened, they said they had received a call similar to our story in the middle of the night. They sent rangers into the trail at dawn.

Never found out what was going down. Didn’t hear of anyone getting hurt, but then again I didn’t really look into it.” [Source]

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Undisturbed

“When I was a kid in the mid-90s my friends and I were hiking around in the woods behind our house on some Weyerhaeuser timber property and found an abandoned farm house.

The weird thing was that the house had been left very suddenly. There was still unopened mail and magazines sitting on the coffee table, all dated back to same date in the 1950s.

Sheets and blankets still on the beds, clothes still in the drawers, pantry full of canned and jarred food, half of it exploded or leaking after so many years. Dishes in the sink, dishes on the table. Unburned candles still sitting out waiting to be used. A fridge outside full of food that had turned to muck and dust.

After exploring the house for a while we checked out the farm. The chicken coop had dozens of chicken skeletons, wrapped in desiccated skins or picked bare. There were two pig skeletons in a pen, and the remains of a horse and several cows in the surrounding pasture.

A tractor was parked in the garage and was in great shape for its age.

It didn’t occur to me as a kid at the time but aside from the house having been left so suddenly, it was really remarkable that the entire place was undisturbed. There was no vandalism, no sign of entry, and as far as I could tell, we were this first people to set foot in there in 40 years.” [Source]

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Yellow

“Doing a group trip in the woods. Literally 40 minutes from any town. We ask our group leader if we can go back to our cabin as night rolls around. He says sure and we begin to walk. We have to walk through a path that’s ten minutes long and in the middle of a thick forest. When we are halfway to our cabin, I get an uneasy feeling. I turn around and literally ten feet behind us is this random guy in a yellow poncho following us.

I tell my friends, we all turn around, none of us recognize him. The guy in the poncho just smiles at us for a second and then runs off the path into the woods. So, my friends and I sprint to the cabin and enter, the rest of the group is already there. We tell the group leader there about it, he calls the other leaders and they start looking around. They don’t find anything, but a new rule was put in place that required someone to be with a leader at all times when you are outside of your cabin.” [Source]

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Shadows

“Camping in Wyoming, 2 hours from pretty much anywhere with my dad, my friend, and my dog. This dog was the calmest (albeit quite stupid) and nicest dog I’ve ever had. I’ve never heard her growl or bark at anything, no matter how much it presented a threat to us or her, she just assumed everything was her friend or food.

It’s late at night, my dad’s asleep, and my friend and I are just hanging around the campfire. Out of nowhere the dog bolts up, barks once, and starts growling in the direction of a field next to our site. Of course we’re freaking out, trying to figure out what the hell she’s going on about, when we realize there’s a group of shadows on the other side of the field. We just sit there, staring at whatever it is, when we hear a conversation, no clue what language it was in. This goes on for about 10 minutes of us staring wide eyed at the shadows (didn’t think to wake my dad), when the shadows just go away, and my dog stops growling, lays down, and falls back asleep.

That was the one and only time she ever did anything like that in over a decade that we had her, still freaks out to this day.” [Source]

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Headphones

“Hiking with a group in a subtropical mountain range about a 40-minute drive from civilization. It’s a night hike, pitch black but for our headlamps. And all of the sudden this guy wearing headphones and a hoodie just walks past us like we’re on a suburban street.

It was pitch black. Where was he going? What was he doing out there? It creeped the hell out of us.” [Source]

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Nothing Whatsoever

“I had a bizarre experience while I was camping on Perdido Key State Park beach. It’s a small stretch of beach with a lagoon on one side and the Gulf of Mexico on the other. I was set up closer to the Gulf side, enjoying the stars, just relaxing in my tent at night.

This was towards the end of a solo cross country trip I was on. I had camped all over the country over the previous 35 days and had never really had anything too scary happen to me. But while I was laying there, almost simultaneously, the wind completely died and the ocean went completely silent. No waves crashing. No wind blowing. No sound whatsoever.

I never truly understood the term “deafening silence” until that moment. For some reason, my body’s response was complete and utter fear. I don’t know why but it was the most scared I had been along the entire trip. I was waiting for something horrible to happen, I had no idea what, but my mind was telling me something bad was about to happen. But less than a minute later all the noise returned and I slowly relaxed again.

Definitely one of the weirder things I’ve experienced.” [Source]

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Bundy

“It was near Halloween time when my friends and I were telling ghost stories. My friend said she was going to tell a story about her parents’ first date. She said she didn’t like telling the story, since it was actually true, but we prodded her on.

To cut to the chase, the parents had spent a nice, if awkward first date, and around the time that they would have said “good night,” the male in the situation–my friend’s dad–suggested that they go for a midnight hike up Provo Canyon. He apparently knew the place, since he had done a fair amount of rock climbing in the area. So the two drove up the mouth of the canyon, got out of their cars and started hiking under just the light of the stars, since it was a new moon.

At some point, the male starts getting a “bad feeling,” since the pathway ahead, which would pass under some trees, would be dark, and because it was getting to be quite late. He ignores the feeling and presses on. In later rehearsings of the story, the female would say that she had felt the same feeling at what was probably the same time, though she didn’t know the trail like he did. A minute later, the feeling came back to the male. He ignored it again, and started walking a bit of the way into the trees when his foot hit something “soft” in the middle of the path. Under the trees, it was too dark to see just what this soft thing was, and the feeling came back stronger than ever. Instead of finding out what his foot had bumped into, he and the female both agreed to hightail it out of there…

Years later, after being married for some time, they were watching an interview with the serial killer, Ted Bundy. In response to a question asking him to describe the time that he felt the closest to being caught, he explained about the night that he lured a girl into Provo Canyon, and had just killed her when he heard some people coming up the trail. He explained how he hid in the trees just in time, only to watch some guy walk right into the body, and for some reason, just turn around and walk away.” [Source]

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Deliverance

“This happened about 6 years ago, as stated 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 2nd deployment if i remember correctly. Also of note was that he is a Green Beret and had recently (3 or 4 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 fuck 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 9 months.

The trip had gone smoothly up until the 3rd night we were camping out. Around 8pm we had our camp set up, eaten dinner and were sitting by the fire talking about typical boy stuff—guns, girls, etc. 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 (my brother called them “good ole boys”) I got a seriously creepy vibe from them-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- 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 3 or 4 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 shit 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 3 hours, around 2am. 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 pistol slide racking. I looked over and my brother had his pistol (a HK USP that he gave to me a few years after this story took place) 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 5 of them and like 3 or 4 dogs. They all looked relatively young but two had either rifles or shotguns 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 guns and has good intentions. I knew this, and my brother knew this. I was scared shitless. 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 nav’ 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 gunfire.

They shot maybe 5 or 6 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 shit 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, lets not meet again, you might get shot next time.” [Source]

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What Did It?

“Woke up in the morning and walked out of the tent to find a sheep ripped apart and scattered across a 20-foot area, about 10 feet from our campsite.

The creepy part is this was in the Mourne Mountains in Northern Ireland. There aren’t any wild predators there bigger than a fox. Certainly nothing big enough to tear a sheep to shreds.” [Source]

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Geocaching

“I’ve been geocaching in the woods many times, and occasionally one runs into caches with weird things in them. The creepiest was an ammo box with only a handful of finds that contained broken doll parts and a handwritten note that said “Look behind you”. I definitely had the heebie-jeebies and double-timed it back to my car despite it being the middle of the day. It’s crossed my mind before that geocaching would be a great way for a serial killer to lure people out to remote locations.” [Source]

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The Pink Plastic Chair

“Skinned cow carcass, not really that creepy but it startles you when you almost step on it.

Cow head nailed to a tree, it was decayed. Pretty much just skull left. Underneath the head was a pink plastic chair, child sized.

Underneath that, a giant pair of purple underwear.” [Source]

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Read All The Way To The End

“Camping in Australia the middle of nowhere up past Wiluna in Western Australia. It’s just you, your fellow camp mates and miles and miles of empty bush land (oh and sheep and kangaroos and flies, oh god the flies). We camped at the base of a small range of hills. Spent the evening climbing up down and all over them with our friend’s kids. Lots exploring to do. Mate tells me he feels like we’re being watched. My response was “Yeah right, who would be this far out?” During the night we hear scratching on the tent and knocking on the caravan walls. Then the sound of something jiggling the handle to each door on the caravan and thumping around the cars as well now.

By now the entire camp is awake and freaking out, but no one is brave enough to get out of their tents or the caravan. We could also hear loud footsteps and huffing and puffing.

Get up the next morning and there is a HUGE bull in the middle of our camp using pretty much anything it can to scratch itself on. So we chased off the bull off and THEN discover the huge, human-shaped footprints going around our camp. I’ve got size 9 ladies and these things were massive! Everyone sort of looked at each other packed up as fast as we can and got the hell out of there.” [Source]

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Crazy Mary

“Not really camping but as kids we lived in a new neighborhood. It was next to about 400 acres of woods and old farmland. There were several abandoned houses and barns, equipment, and random junk. It was great to grow up there as we spent nearly every day exploring the area.

But there was one house off the main road, but about 200 yards into the woods. It looked abandoned but a woman lived there. We found out the hard way by trying to get into the house one day, and she came out screaming at us to get the hell off her property.

She was scary looking as hell. She wore a dirty dress and had gross stringy hair, and look like she hadn’t taken a shower for years. She looked to be in her 30’s. Needless to say, we stayed away from her most of the time. We also never told our parents because we knew that they wouldn’t let us play back there anymore.

We did go back sometime though. We named her “Crazy Mary”, and we’d spy on here, and dare each other to get as close as possible. Even then we never got closer than 100 feet from her house.

About 10-12 years later I am home from college and my mom tells me about how they took this woman to the mental hospital. Apparently she lived there this whole time with her dead mother and father propped up in their chairs in the living room. They figured the parents were dead for 10-15 years, but died of natural causes and Mary had propped them up in the chairs after they died. That meant the were probably freshly dead when we got chased away by Crazy Mary.” [Source]

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Timey-Wimey, Wibbely-Wobbly

“This old woman hiker in her 70s somehow saw us in reverse order through a wormhole or something. The first time we saw her she said “Oh, well hello again!”

I just passed it off as her being old, slightly senile. Then 30 minutes later, we saw her again and this time she just said “Hi” as she passed us. I’m not even sure how she got there. She was going the opposite direction of us on the trail both times.” [Source]

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Clovers

“When I was a young teen, there was a small forest fairly near our house. My neighbor and I would walk to it regularly to go build dens and play on the park near its edge. The land was clearly once part of an estate because it had an old 1900s-looking swimming pool and bits of stone path dotted amid the undergrowth. We’d sometimes take other kids there and play chase games or pretend to be tribes people, sprinting through the thick foliage. It was a fun place to explore.

Anyway, we’d been going there for about a year or so at weekends when we finally decided to take a big pair of garden shears to start clearing an area for our biggest den yet. We chose part of the forest that had always been blocked off to us because it was mostly surrounded by a thick wall of bamboo (overgrown from the place’s time as an estate I think). The forest was a paradise just for us; we’d never ever seen anybody there other than us or people we brought. Our dens were always exactly as we left them. But all the same, we figured cutting a secret way into the bamboo-walled area would give the best protected den from strangers and barbarians and ninjas.

It took us most of the day to cut our way in. When we’d made an arch to crawl through, we went in to find that we were in a clearing with only clovers growing in it, no taller plants, just a soft blanket of clovers. Dotted throughout were these odd little knee-high statues of fairies sitting on stone mushrooms playing harps and other instruments. Every single one had its face smashed off. In the center of the cramped clearing was a giant concrete-looking block. We kicked over one of the fairy statues on the way over to it, probably to demonstrate that we weren’t scared.

It was a giant rough-stone coffin. Some ivy-like plant covered most of it, but it clearly had a well-defined lid and a worn, unreadable inscription on the side. Adrenaline-curious, we tried with all our might to lift the lid, but it must have weighed tons. The adrenaline wore off, we freaked out, and hurriedly walked back through to the play park where we sat and discussed our find for a bit.

We decided the clearing was too den-perfect to pass up, so the next day we returned with some old metal sheeting and plywood boards to build our shelter. It wasn’t raining, but the day was heavily dark and overcast, so the woods were about at the darkest they could be during day time.

We got back into the clearing, started building, and got pretty far with it. After a little while my friend sort of yelped out an “Oh Jesus Christ”. I turned to see him next to the coffin (it’s giving me full body shivers just thinking about this) and it was open.

The lid was slid off to one side just enough that a thin person could get through the gap. I ran over, stared into the gap, saw nothing but pitch dark, and whispered “Run”. The wind rose and it started raining, so there was noise everywhere right at that moment. I’ve never experienced anything like it. We ran through the wood faster than we’d ever practiced in our tribe games. We never went back into those woods.” [Source]

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You Can Hear It

“Backpacking solo during the springtime (Minnesota, so it was still kinda snowy). During my first night I noticed that it was quiet. Not just quiet, but completely silent. Like no sounds whatsoever. I always thought noises at night were scary, but nothing compares to utter and complete silence. I could hear every beat of my heart, every inhalation, and every twig-snap in a 2 mile radius (or so it seemed). Very creepy.” [Source]

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The Tree Line

“My family has some property in Utah where we used to camp every summer. Years of camping on that property, and the biggest animal most of us ever saw was a particularly fat chipmunk. Except my dad.

One morning, my dad was up early, just sitting outside drinking his coffee. He hears a ruckus coming from the tree line, then a deer bolts onto the meadow.

The deer was maybe fifteen yards from my dad when the mountain lion caught up to it. Seconds later, the deer was dragged away.

The rest of us woke up to find the meadow decorated with fresh tracks and a trail of blood leading off into the woods.

Dad switched from coffee to beer early that day.” [Source]

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Psycho Craig

“When I was a young Boy Scout my troop was hiking through some narrow canyons on the way to a camp site. It was night and near pitch dark since no starlight or moonlight could reach us, so most of us had flashlights out. We start turning around this bend and directly ahead, sitting on this boulder was a man. He had no gear, no backpack, just sitting alone in the middle of a pitch black canyon. We stop dead in our tracks looking at him and he says, “It’s rude to shine light on peoples faces” in the most disturbing voice. We apologize and continue on to our campsite. We named him psycho Craig.” [Source]

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Something Staring Back

“This happened when I was around 14-15 years old. I was camping with some friends, I don’t remember where exactly, but it was somewhere in central Texas. Anyway, it’s around 2 a.m. and I wake up in the middle of the night because I have to go tinkle. I walk out of the tent and find a tree that’s not too far away, but not close enough to wake anyone else.

As soon as I start pissing I hear the crunching of leaves about 20 feet in front of me, my eyes had not yet adjusted to the dark so I squint to get a better look at what is in front of me. Immediately I panic, there is something staring back. A big pair of glowing yellow eyes were fixed on me. I freeze, I have no idea what to do. It looks like a giant cat, but I’m not entirely sure. I finish peeing and it is still staring at me.

I slowly walk backwards and I hear it hiss. I freeze again, it looks at me for about 5 more seconds then turns around and walks away. To this day I have no idea what it was, but it still scares the shit out if me.” [Source]

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The Farmer

“I was in a tiny town in South America in the middle of nowhere. I decided to take a walk along the river leaving my travel companions in the town. About 20 minutes in I wander past a big rock sticking up from the ground that made a sort of small cave. In this cave was a human skull. I turned around and on the other side of the river (a narrow river) a farmer was yelling at me and waving a hoe. I ran away.” [Source]

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The Lake

“While camping when I was a kid I went to use the toilet at the lake we were camped at. The rocks were crunching under my feet and I thought nothing of it until I came out and the light had finally kicked on for the night. I was surrounded by a carpet of wolf spiders stretching twenty yards in every direction… I had walked through it to get there.” [Source]

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Shoveling

“Alright, this is the first time I’ve ever really told this story to anybody except for friends but it truly creeps me the fuck out. I know it’s going to get buried anyway, but I’ll give it a shot.

Me and my ex girlfriend decided to have a date night since we both had the day off of work. So we did the usual dinner and a movie thing, and afterwards we decided we’d go for a midnight drive. So we drive about an hour and a half out of town going nowhere particular. We just knew that we were going to get it on under the stars.

After scoping out a random dirt road, I took my truck down it and parked in an open area off to the side next to forest. The entire area was surrounded by forest. After about 10 minutes of kissing we decide to get down to business. So we get in the backseat and start tearing eachother’s clothes off.

About 5 minutes in, headlights. Headlights heading towards where we were, but not directly at us. So we are both rushing in an attempt to get our clothes back on, thinking for some reason it might be the cops. (Which makes absolutely no sense now.) My pants are nowhere to be found and neither is her shirt. Now, keep in mind, the closest house to the road we were on is probably 30 minutes away. we kept fumbling looking for our clothing, and eventually found it and struggled to get them back on.

Truck keeps getting closer, and closer. But like I said, not directly at us. Until we finally realize it’s not somebody coming to yell at us to get off their property, or the cops. In fact, they can’t even tell we are there because my truck is black and I’m parked almost into the thick forest area. Finally, an old beat up f150 parks his truck about 50 feet from us. Leaves his truck running and gets out. He walks to his truck bed, grabs his shovel, and just starts digging into the ground. He did this for a good 30 to 40 minutes while we just sat there in silence, afraid to move or speak on the off chance he hears us.

He stops digging and lifts something out of the ground. It was a decent sized object but it was too dark to see exactly what it was. Picks it up, places it in his truck bed, goes back for the shovel and places that in the truck bed as well and drives off into the night. Me and my girlfriend decides it would be best to wait another 20 minutes before we even started the truck.

To this day I have no idea what it could have been, but I really hope it was (at WORST) drugs.” [Source]

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The River

“A while back I was on a search and rescue team and we had to go and ‘rescue’ a group of Texans on a hike up in the Colorado mountains. They needed ‘help’ because they were afraid to cross a river that had gotten higher during the day. This was relayed to us by people who had passed them… at the river… and walked back down. When we finally encountered our intrepid explorers, we asked them if they had any water or food. They replied with, ‘No, but we have plenty of methamphetamines’.” [Source]

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