Never leaving the house again
January 3, 2016 7:55 AM   Subscribe

Readies self for tales of rattlesnakes in sleeping bags and tarantulas in boots....WAIT WTF

Jesus Christ people. The worst thing I've come across is old porno mags. Well, there was that one time my brother and I were driving out to Red Rocks outside Vegas and passed a black Caddy with its tinted windows full of bullet holes, but the cops were already there.
posted by Existential Dread at 8:07 AM on January 3, 2016 [3 favorites]

These are, of course, all completely true. Thoughtcatalog's Reddit curation is highly prized for its fact checking department.
posted by neustile at 8:09 AM on January 3, 2016 [33 favorites]

My grandfather found a dead body when he was walking in some woods... I always remember that when I catch a glimpse of abandoned clothing or similar when I'm out walking
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 8:19 AM on January 3, 2016

Is repackaging Reddit threads now a Thing?
posted by Dip Flash at 8:24 AM on January 3, 2016 [24 favorites]

1 and 2 kind of beat bundles of weird spooky sticks hands down.
posted by Artw at 8:26 AM on January 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

I feel like X-Files immunized me to creepy woods stories. Dead body in the woods? Pffft, whatever.
posted by ryanrs at 8:27 AM on January 3, 2016 [4 favorites]

You were the creepy thing in the woods the whole time.
posted by mhoye at 8:28 AM on January 3, 2016 [56 favorites]

The cucumber is just there as mountain lion repellent.
posted by leotrotsky at 8:31 AM on January 3, 2016 [52 favorites]

Many years ago my then 13 year old nephew was staying with his family at a rental vacation cottage at a popular lake in Kentucky. During the day he liked to go off by himself in the woods, explore and climb trees.
One time his baseball cap fell off as he was climbing a tree, when he climbed as far as he could he hung out there a while and, when he came back down, someone had cut his baseball cap almost to ribbons with a sharp tool or scissors.
He didn't go off into the woods anymore.
posted by Tullyogallaghan at 8:32 AM on January 3, 2016 [30 favorites]

Stairs by themselves, you know, nice carpeted stairs like from a house. Don't climb 'em.
posted by mwhybark at 8:33 AM on January 3, 2016 [30 favorites]

Without wanting to tangent too much - can someone explain how US (I presume?) legal systems work re. witnesses to crimes? Because the second story ends with a 'I don't know if he lived' line, and I just don't understand how that is possible: after an incident like that how could someone be isolated from the loop of the legal process and/or not know enough about the case to follow it up, see it in the media, etc?
posted by AFII at 8:36 AM on January 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

In the forest I do research in, I'm often the only person in my camp - the men I work with have a camp about a kilometer east of me, and I go down to meet them in the morning. However, my camp is closest to the "road" into the forest, which is basically a trail that's wide enough for a Toyota Hilux to fit through. Any time anyone comes into the forest, they pass by my camp first and I can hear their car coming for maybe 15 minutes before they actually pass me. So poaching is a big problem in the forest, but usually, because there are researchers in our main study area, nobody hunts near where I do my research. We'll occasionally hear shots or find shells, but not very frequently. Everyone in the villages knows that the researchers in the forest usually spend Christmas in the village, so there's nobody in the forest with the groups.

I stayed in camp on Christmas Eve a few years back, because I was trying to get a particular number of samples before I went out for the fete. Christmas Eve, I went to bed around 8 and settled in to read with my headlamp for a few hours before I fell asleep. At around 1 AM, I heard someone whistling on the main road, and footsteps. Normally when that happens, I turn on my headlamp and go see what's going - it's often that someone is sick and needs to be driven out to town - but I was totally freaked out because they were coming from the road from the villages, and I didn't want anyone to realize that I was there (and, furthermore, that I was there by myself). So I didn't turn on my headlamp and I just froze and lay completely still. I could hear this person walk off of the main road onto the little trail that leads through my camp. He kept whistling, and kind of casually tapped his flashlight against the wattle-and-daub wall of my house, and then walked up to our kitchen (an open-air, roofed platform with water, coolers, and a propane stove) and it sounded like he poured himself a drink of water from our filtered water, and then kept walking.

Maybe 45 minutes later, I heard about 5 or 6 shots from our study area. They continued intermittently for another 3 or 4 hours. I did not sleep AT ALL. I didn't hear him come back out through our trail system, so my guess is that he was either camping out in the forest for a few days and hunting, or hiked out of the forest in another direction. At any rate, I've never been quite so scared as when he walked past my house tapping. It was a total cliche, but all I could think of was how loudly my heart was beating and how he must have been able to hear it.
posted by ChuraChura at 8:37 AM on January 3, 2016 [38 favorites]

Reddit. I saw Reddit it in the woods - it was horrible. Then a slenderman ate it and everything was okay.
posted by Artw at 8:41 AM on January 3, 2016 [33 favorites]

that first story, where they find the injured girl, is interesting enough to dig up the original whole story. They accidentally took a picture with her in the frame hours before they found her, which was posted in the thread. Lemme find the link, as the 'article' link was to a bitrotted newspaper story.
posted by mwhybark at 8:50 AM on January 3, 2016 [2 favorites]

after an incident like that how could someone be isolated from the loop of the legal process and/or not know enough about the case to follow it up, see it in the media

Well, the police don't usually call you back and update you, and even if you tracked down the detective attached to the case, they may or may not give you the victim's name and tell you anything about their status. Victims can be re-victimized by well-meaning (or not) strangers.

If there are charges filed (may not be if there's no consensus on who the assailant was) and the district attorney decides to prosecute the case (which they might not do for any number of reasons), you might get called as a witness, but you might not if they have other more useful evidence.

Even if the victim died, unless they were an attractive young woman or famous or otherwise interesting enough to sell advertising, it's unlikely to get more than a blurb, if that, in the media. One guy beating another guy to death in a drainage ditch generally suggests they were probably not of any extraordinary means, so nobody cares. Most assaults don't make the news.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:54 AM on January 3, 2016 [3 favorites]

This looks like a fuller account of the first story.
posted by metaquarry at 8:55 AM on January 3, 2016 [4 favorites]

ah, the OP link here includes appropriate links to the Reddit subthreads in the subheads. The injured hiker story is here. The fourth and fifth links in the Reddit subthread are the snapshots that accidentally include the hiker in the frame.
posted by mwhybark at 8:55 AM on January 3, 2016 [2 favorites]

I'm going to have to disagree with Lyn Never. If they were a witness to a violent crime, they would give statements to the police, they would be contacted by the prosecution and defense attorneys when the assailant went to trial. It's not something that just goes away. I had a friend who was a witness to a bar stabbing and he'd hear from either police or lawyers every three months for the two years that it took to go to trial. I was a witness to a violent crime years ago, even the county health department contacted me to let me know of the victim's status concerning any possible disease transmission because I was exposed to the victim's blood.
posted by peeedro at 8:57 AM on January 3, 2016 [3 favorites]

Without wanting to tangent too much - can someone explain how US (I presume?) legal systems work re. witnesses to crimes?

AFII, the second story takes places in Toronto.
posted by Evstar at 8:57 AM on January 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

Is this the imaginary staircases story thread yet again or is it spiders pls advise.
posted by poffin boffin at 9:00 AM on January 3, 2016 [6 favorites]

I had a weird (and horrible) experience by proxy. Two friends in college were looking for a place to picnic and smoke a little weed. I told them about a secluded area off Bull Creek outside Austin. They came back late that night in shock. They found a body in the creek. He had been shot and his eyes were still open under water. While they were debating what to do a VW drove past slowly several times over the low water crossing. It turns out it was the killer with a girl hostage that he killed later that day. Here is an article about the incident...
posted by jim in austin at 9:05 AM on January 3, 2016 [3 favorites]

I could've sworn that first story was on MeFi but I can't find it by searching.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:05 AM on January 3, 2016

after an incident like that how could someone be isolated from the loop of the legal process and/or not know enough about the case to follow it up, see it in the media, etc?

first, if the guy copped a plea, then there's no need for witnesses to testify - and generally, most criminals plea to something

i was once involved in an attempted strong arm robbery where the police pulled the guy over within a mile and i never heard a thing about it from anyone after that night - my guess is that the guy was on probation, was found in violation and the prosecutor probably figured that him going back to jail or prison was good enough

as far as the media is concerned, someone beating the crap out of someone isn't all that big a news story unless the victim is seriously hurt or dies

often the victim will tell the police nothing and just say, "i'll take care of it myself", which isn't exactly what the police like to hear ...
posted by pyramid termite at 9:12 AM on January 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

Pope Guilty: pretty sure it was in the links from this thread.
posted by theseldomseenkid at 9:14 AM on January 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

So my best buddy and I both worked at a camp one summer. Senior year of HS. It was actually two camps, one for older folk and one for teenagers. The two were separated by a lake. He was a musician and I worked with Beaver the caretaker.

One morning, maybe an hour before actual sunrise, we decide to take a canoe out on to the lake and smoke a bowl or two of hash. And so we did. We paddled pretty far out so nobody could smell the smoke. As we got wasted the lake started to get foggy. Fast. In minutes we where completely whited out. In the center of the lake, more or less. High as a kite became paranoid as fuck. We understood that once the sun came up the fog would burn away. But that might take an hour or so. Meanwhile there we are. Floating. Lake water lapping. And it suddenly occurs to me that below us was a great dark watery void. While we could possibly fall overboard and drown, (Life vests? What life vests?) what if something that lived down there came up? What if some huge fish thing decided to check out our tiny canoe?

We were terrified. And we kept talking like that, under the influence of pretty powerful hashish. Reinforcing the fear, until we were sure this was the end. And the sun came up. And the fog thinned. We could finally see some landmarks on the shore.

And we ever so carefully paddled back to land. I don't know about my friend, but my legs were shaking so bad I could barely walk. Until we could smell breakfast cooking. Man abject fear makes you HUNGRY.
posted by Splunge at 9:15 AM on January 3, 2016 [13 favorites]

The location described in the second story is close to my house and is a popular drinking spot for the homeless. I'd guess the assailant would have been on probation already or plead guilty. I've been a witness to drunks beating murderously on each other in the past, and not even asked much about it by the police as they sorted the situation. On the other hand, I stopped my car once to help out a woman who was being slapped around (by her brother, it turned out) and had to give a statement at the station and appear to testify a couple times.
posted by bonobothegreat at 9:35 AM on January 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

Even time I go home to the Ohio River valley I spend some time on an old farm we own that has the remains of an old coal cabin/mine office. Usually I'm the only one who goes there and so it may be 2-3 years between visits.

I'm not a scaredy cat and have no problem being by myself in weird rural places, but this time I left the lights of my rental car running so I could see better while I harvested dead logs and branches to start a fire. The only time I've EVER been scared in the woods alone was when the car lights cast my shadow across the narrow flat drive and into the trees. I'm 6'2" and thin; that shadow was THE END. I can't tell you how fast I ran back to the car, turned off those headlights, and collected the rest of my firewood by moonlight.

These stories always read so foreign to me. As a kid growing up in and around the woods, I've seen far more menacing things in Chicago on a Wednesday night that I've ever seen in the woods by myself. Except for that shadow. There will never be another late-night headlight firewood grab. No-sir-eee-bob.
posted by Tchad at 9:41 AM on January 3, 2016 [10 favorites]

Here's the story of a guy I know who vanished on a hiking trail almost seven years ago. The only clues are a tent peg, a possible witness outside of the park, a footprint matching his shoe tread, and a watch mentioned in the story which turns out not to be his.

So spook stories aside, it's always possible to unprepared, under-equipped, or overconfident and have bad things happen to you while backpacking.
posted by peeedro at 9:48 AM on January 3, 2016 [6 favorites]

"Yes, it was Florida."
posted by doctornemo at 9:53 AM on January 3, 2016 [12 favorites]

#18 could be a nice time travel story.
posted by doctornemo at 10:06 AM on January 3, 2016

I was with a friend in probably 1969 maybe '70, we were 35 miles in, on the Bear's Ears Pass road which was a 65 mile long dirt road at the time. We were driving to Natural Bridges National Monument. We were rounding an ess curve at sunset in a Triumph Spitfire with the top down. At the middle was a pickup with the bed at about eye level, three men with rifles had a fourth man bound and gagged lying at their feet. We were bright little girls and saw this without seeing it, took the second curve of the ess, and did not change speed for a half mile or so, then booked it 'til we met up with our friends at night, buried my car in brush a mile off the park. I never heard of someone missing.
posted by Oyéah at 10:11 AM on January 3, 2016 [6 favorites]

Nothing the witnesses being out of the loop in cases if the accused cops a plea. I was the identifying witness for a case of credit card fraud when I was 25, where the police brought me along on the arrest and everything - it was a dramatic afternoon - and they told me that if the case went to the grand jury they would call me to testify. But I never heard anything more. We did catch these guys pretty red-handed, so they probably just pled guilty and they didn't need me to come in.

The masturbating Klansman reminds me that I saw something similar - only the guy was wearing a t-shirt with the back collar pulled up top of his head like he was Beavis trying to be Cornholio. Oh, and this was in Riverside Park.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:15 AM on January 3, 2016 [2 favorites]

One time i came across a federal recreation facility waaaaay out in the boonies that had a terrible teabagger infestation

also, the Reddit OP of the Canadian gully beating has noped out of Reddit, so their followup comments are no longer available, but the other half of the conversation implies that the beater was charged with attempted murder and plead, so the OP was not needed in testimony.

And the searchandrescue staircases /r/nosleep creator has kept posting. there are now seven primary posts by the creator on reddit in that series. They have also started a tumblr and on the tumblr they affirm that the SAR series is fiction.

which we knew, of course. I mean I knew, obvs. really. no, really.
posted by mwhybark at 10:16 AM on January 3, 2016 [3 favorites]

One morning, maybe an hour before actual sunrise, we decide to take a canoe out on to the lake and smoke a bowl or two of hash ...abject fear makes you HUNGRY.

Yeah, it was definitely the fear that made you hungry.
posted by leotrotsky at 10:18 AM on January 3, 2016 [12 favorites]

Why not just link to the original Reddit thread? This practice of mining user-posted comments and content from social sites and reposting them on another site (WITH ADS!) is reeeaaallllly growing tiresome.

The people at did not create this content, did not request this content from its readers, and are using this content without consent to generate revenue via advertising. Metafilter should NOT support this practice, and I for one would love to see the link in the FPP changed to its original source.

What if other sites mined Metafilter for thoughtful, insightful comments YOU made, and published them, with or without attribution, on their site, to help them make money? I mean, I know my comments on Metafilter are public, and I make them freely, but they are intended for readers of this site and, as they are offered freely, should remain free (and forcing someone to look at/listen to ads on your site means your site is not free). While at least credited and linked to the original Reddit thread, this is not a practice any of us should support. (And by clicking the link in the FPP, you have supported this practice, because we've added a bunch of pageviews to their ads.)
posted by LooseFilter at 10:21 AM on January 3, 2016 [62 favorites]

I play Dystopia Rising (previously, and if there are any other DR players on MeFi, hit me up). The game is usually held in a forested area, and I'm sure that the organizers make an effort to make sure that it's fairly isolated. I do wonder, sometimes, what would happen if a hiker who wasn't aware of what was going on walked through the site. It's basically a weekend of people screaming like they're being murdered and loudly begging for someone to help them, while in the meantime there are dozens of people wandering around covered in copious volumes of fake blood.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 10:29 AM on January 3, 2016

There's always a bit of strangeness to when you find a an abandoned campsite/hangout in the middle of the woods. Especially when there's crumbled remains of tents and ephemera. Something about a rotting acoustic guitar in the woods in unsettling.
posted by Ferreous at 10:30 AM on January 3, 2016 [2 favorites]

after an incident like that how could someone be isolated from the loop of the legal process and/or not know enough about the case to follow it up, see it in the media

Maybe Canada has strong privacy laws? I recently had a man become violent in the library I manage and staff called police, who subsequently arrested him. It took me over a week to convince the police to even give me his name (no address) so I could issue him a proper trespass notification to (hopefully) prevent him returning. He actually showed up the day I got the info, at 8.30 at night. He had no memory of the incident and was very embarrassed about being banned. Other times I have been a witness to a crime, I have never heard back from the police.
posted by saucysault at 10:31 AM on January 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

Weirdest object I've found though is probably two human teeth (I assume they were human, looked like a canine and an incisor) on the side of a trail.
posted by Ferreous at 10:32 AM on January 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

My family (mom, dad and sister) were planning a vacation to Rocky Mountain National Park and invited my GF and I along. My dad grew up mostly in Queens, but would prefer to live someplace like Montana with no people and nothing but nature for miles. But the GF and I have never been to the RMs and there was supposed to be some sort of meteor shower during the time they were going to be there. Since my parents wants to visit a few places in Colorado, they didn't camp at all, but stayed in various lodges throughout.

Anyhow, so we're in the RMs, it's the wee hours of the morning and only the GF and I are interested in the meteor shower at this point. We hop in the rental car with cameras and tripods, drive for a bit in and basically have the entire place to ourselves, no one is up at this hour. We pull off route 34 and walk past our car to a field. We don't have flashlights on because we want our eyes to adjust. Bring from NY, it's still kinda weird seeing all the stars in the sky, but we're mostly weirded out by the sounds of wildlife howling in the distance.

About 40 minutes in (not long at all when you're trying to do some long exposures on a tripod), we see headlights from a truck coming down route 34. So we gently put lens caps on our cameras because we don't want the trucks headlights creating a streak of light at the bottom of our photo; we can continue the exposure in a few seconds when the truck finishes driving by.

Only the truck doesn't drive by, it pulls off the road. I mention to the GF (who is already spooked more than me by the sounds of wildlife) that it's probably a forest ranger or something wondering what two morons with large metal things are doing out in a field in the middle of the night.

The truck drives off the road a bit, about as far off the road as our car, which places the truck almost as far away from us as our car is from us. There's no light bar on top, this isn't a government vehicle, it's just some guy in a truck who has miles and miles of open space to pick from and decided that he wanted to be near us. He didn't say hello, he didn't get out, he just sat there with his lights on.

We nope-nope-nope'd the fuck out of there; just put the tripods in the back seat with the cameras still on and drove away. I'd rather be alone on a subway platform at 3:00a with a crazy homeless dude a few feet away than be out in the middle of no where like that again.
posted by Brian Puccio at 10:34 AM on January 3, 2016 [13 favorites]

Maybe Canada has strong privacy laws? I recently had a man become violent in the library I manage and staff called police, who subsequently arrested him. It took me over a week to convince the police to even give me his name (no address) so I could issue him a proper trespass notification to (hopefully) prevent him returning. He actually showed up the day I got the info, at 8.30 at night. He had no memory of the incident and was very embarrassed about being banned. Other times I have been a witness to a crime, I have never heard back from the police.

It's not so much privacy laws per se - in Ontario, the process for getting the court records for a trial/conviction in an unreported (i.e., "unreported" meaning not published in a legal database/court reporting service because it's so routine in how it unfolds) criminal matter is a little arcane (IANAL and am open to correction). And if it doesn't make the news, it's kind of buried.

Assuming the OP of the Toronto ravine beating story knew a.) the name of the accused and b.) the courthouse the hearing was held in, the OP would have to contact that courthouse directly to get the court records. And presumably the accused plead guilty right off the bat, as others have suggested.

In the case of a beating I witnessed here in Toronto, I was subpoenaed to testify in court. The guy was pleading not guilty when he was arraigned, so it went to trial. Long story short, despite going to trial, the guy ended up pleading (*cough* thanks to yours truly being an unimpeachable Crown [prosecution] witness).

If the guy I witnessed had entered a plea of guilty at arraignment, that would have been that and I never would have received that subpoena, and would never have heard back from the local constabulary or courts.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 10:58 AM on January 3, 2016

LooseFilter: "What if other sites mined Metafilter for thoughtful, insightful comments YOU made, and published them, with or without attribution, on their site, to help them make money? "

A New Zealand newspaper did this to me with one of my metafilter comments (and honestly the most annoying part was that they changed my slang from Yankee slang to Kiwi slang but put it in quote marks as if I had said it to the paper directly) and I complained to the writer and her editor and the response was, "You posted it on the internet, you have no right to complain, fuck off."

I briefly considered setting up a website that just pirated their articles non-stop and responding to their take-down requests by copy/pasting their editor's response to me that anything published on the internet is fair game for piracy, but I am a good person.

Ferreous: "Something about a rotting acoustic guitar in the woods in unsettling."

It's because it's just sitting there WAITING to be a Paley-esque teleological proof example for the existence of God from badly-educated fundamentalists. Well, that's what bugs ME about it anyway. NO WATCHES IN WOODS.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 11:32 AM on January 3, 2016 [5 favorites]

reddit has totally fucked up staircases for me
havent left my apartment in months
posted by Foci for Analysis at 11:46 AM on January 3, 2016 [4 favorites]

My one experience with the Canadian criminal justice system went like this:
One evening, I looked out my window and saw a guy breaking into the bicycle store across the street. I called the police. They came and arrested him. I typed up a statement, saying that they arrested the same guy I saw breaking into the store. A year later, I got a summons to go to his trial. (The summons did include the alleged perpetrator's name.) I went to the court room on the appointed day. They did not proceed with the trial because the alleged perpetrator was in jail somewhere and they could not find him to bring him to court. I never heard anything further about his case.
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 11:51 AM on January 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

When I was about ten years old, we moved from NJ to NC, where we had this big house that backed up to the woods. My sister and I got the bedrooms that had been rented out as apartments by previous owners, so they were kind of separate from the rest of the house. I could and regularly did lock the door connecting to the main part of the house and we had a completely separate entrance that led out back facing the woods.

Also, I've always had a tetch of insomnia, so I would regularly go out in the middle of the night undetected and fuck around in the woods. And that is when I started finding the animals. Someone was leaving eviscerated animals hanging from nooses in the trees in the woods. If I had to guess, I'd say I saw between ten and fifteen of them over the course of a few months. They'd always be removed pretty quickly, but then new ones would show up.

This part is a flashback and does not take place in the woods, but it's related and it's absolutely true: Prior to that, when we'd lived in NJ, I used to walk to school and would I guess make mental notes of the roadkill I saw on the way, like the specific injuries and where they were and stuff. Because I was a kid is why. But then one day, I was walking to school and the street was just littered with dead animals. Tons of them, which on further inspection was like three months of previous roadkills, in at least roughly the same places, positions, and conditions as they'd been originally, as though someone had collected, documented, and stored them so they could eventually return them all at once. They were gone by the time I walked home.

I'd told a few people about the roadkill incident, but I don't think anyone believed me, so I shut up about it. Plus I had this particular paranoia about the mafia for some reason. I would attribute anything scary or weird to the mafia, and I knew you weren't supposed to talk about things the mafia did. So I never told anyone about the animals in the woods until one day I was out there during the day with some friends and we found a cat. My one friend was instantly suspicious of her much older brother, and it wasn't until many years later that I realized that was much scarier than my mafia explanation.

(The roadkill one I still don't know. Probably just a big bureaucratic snafu, like maybe the initial cleanup was done by non-union workers in violation of some contract, so they had to put everything back and have union workers re-do it. Yes, that's what I'm going with.)

How I mourn the ublemished naivete of youth when I just thought the mafia followed little girls around the country leaving mutilated animals around as a sort of generalized warning.
posted by ernielundquist at 11:52 AM on January 3, 2016 [14 favorites]

It's always impressive how tight, concise and well-edited the personal anecdotes are on Reddit. Seriously. Compare the to the few personal stories in this Metafilter thread, which are all quite good and interesting, but lengthier than any of the Reddit stories. It seems that Redditors (spell check makes that "Redactors") know how to get straight to the point, hit it hard, and get out. You'd think they actually had redactors, preparing these things for posting.
posted by Modest House at 12:00 PM on January 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

Ferreous: " Something about a rotting acoustic guitar in the woods in unsettling."

Or, depending upon who serenaded you last, quite relaxing.
posted by Splunge at 12:02 PM on January 3, 2016 [7 favorites]

It seems that Redditors know how to get straight to the point, hit it hard, and get out.

I think it's because posts on Reddit can get upvotes and people like the "karma points" that earns. Long posts are less often read and upvoted. It's a really neat positive selection effect of the (IMO) mixed-benefit up/down vote system.
posted by LooseFilter at 12:05 PM on January 3, 2016 [4 favorites]

I found a bunch of ripped open garbage bags spilling out baby dolls and other children's toys, in a burn pile on a cutblock north of Edmonton years ago. That was fun.
posted by mannequito at 12:25 PM on January 3, 2016

Re: The Roosevelt Elk story, I have previously reported the time my wife and I woke up at 2am underneath a moose.

It was terrifying enough being within three feet of and underneath a moose--we were in a small pup tent, the moose's forefeet were pressing up against two sides of our tent (ie, against us in our sleeping bags) as the moose reached OVER the tent (ie, us) to a third side of the tent in order to yank up giant clumps of grass and worf them down.

I mean, we weren't just close to the moose or metaphorically underneath it. We were literally underneath it and between its legs as it leaned its head over to the other side of us.

Moose stomp a fairly large number of people to death annually--more than bears kill, according to some--and this mother moose had a baby nearby, making her excitable and defensive--pretty much the most likely type of moose to attack humans.

Exactly underneath an 800 pound mother moose is pretty much exactly the last place you want to be, if you like to live.

However, that wasn't the most terrifying part.

More terrifying than that was being gently woken up at 2am in the wilderness by this tremendously large beast--accurately described here as "Like Darth Vader without the helmet on," except that he forgot to mention that this thing is FIVE TIMES LARGER AND MORE ASTHMATIC than even Darth Vader--that is three feet directly above you.

But even that is not the MOST terrifying part.

The MOST terrifying part is slowly coming to consciousness at 2AM in the pitch dark, and slowly remembering where you are--in the exactly in the middle of nowhere in the flimsy tent--and slowly coming to the realization that what woke you up is some kind of massive Darth Vader type breathing noise directly above your tent. And then realizing that you HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA WHAT IT IS.

You know how they say that real terror exists only in the mind?


Because real terror is spending the five minutes in a tent in the wilderness at 2AM carefully playing dead while you frantically run through every possible scenario for "thousand-pound Darth Vader-like beast and/or human who could possibly be visiting our wilderness camp at 2AM hulking directly over our tent--and WHY?!!?"

Five minutes in the pitch dark is a v-e-r-y long time to think and each possible scenario the panicked mind invents is so much more horrible than the last--grizzly? sasquatch? gorilla? elephant? ax murderer? mind-sucking space alien abduction?

After all that, finding out at long last that you are "only" under the very hooves of an 800 pound death-stomping moose actually comes as something of a relief.
posted by flug at 12:28 PM on January 3, 2016 [50 favorites]

ernielundquist - Could the nooses have been snares to catch either food or predators?
posted by pmcp at 12:31 PM on January 3, 2016

Could the nooses have been set by mooses?
posted by jpolchlopek at 12:33 PM on January 3, 2016 [19 favorites]

A Møøse once bit my sister... No realli! She was Karving her initials on the møøse with the sharpened end of an interspace tøøthbrush given her by Svenge - her brother-in-law...
posted by Splunge at 12:37 PM on January 3, 2016 [5 favorites]

Walking in state forest land with my dad while not in hunting season, saw a guy on the trail striding along wearing a big black trench coat and carrying a large black semi-automatic weapon. No eye contact.

My dad and I looked at each other, turned around and walked back down the trail to the car and left.
posted by sciencegeek at 12:56 PM on January 3, 2016

ernielundquist - Could the nooses have been snares to catch either food or predators?

I don't think so. I know better than to fully trust childhood memories, but I remember very clearly that they were gutted.
posted by ernielundquist at 1:31 PM on January 3, 2016

Missing 411-North America and Beyond

Heh. In interviews, the author of that book tends to hint that it's Sasquatch and/or UFOs and the Parks Service is covering it up. A++
posted by robocop is bleeding at 2:11 PM on January 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

They're not staircases ... they're escalators
posted by benzenedream at 2:40 PM on January 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

Oh another one, which is totally just somebody fucking around, but a deer skeleton pieced out, bone by bone every 20 feet or so along a deer trail.
posted by Ferreous at 5:41 PM on January 3, 2016

Oh hey! I'm #14!
posted by sanka at 5:47 PM on January 3, 2016 [5 favorites]

Walking in state forest land with my dad while not in hunting season, saw a guy on the trail striding along wearing a big black trench coat and carrying a large black semi-automatic weapon. No eye contact.

I've met that guy, though not in a trenchcoat, a couple of times on National Forest land. I don't usually carry a gun but every time I meet a weirdo I make a resolution to start carrying while hiking. Once you are a mile or so in you don't meet them, but near the trailheads there are some strange people.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:48 PM on January 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

Is repackaging Reddit threads now a Thing?

Look, don't criticize a bottom-feeder unless you've been really, really hungry.

As for my own story, the first thing that comes to mind isn't exactly in "the wild"; it was, in fact, in the middle of Brooklyn, or more precisely Prospect Park, but it was in an isolated wooded area (Prospect Park is about two-thirds the size of Central Park, but more compact, so the middle really is kind of isolated). My then-wife and I were walking along a trail and came across a small, boarded-up building in an area that didn't have any other people in it at the moment--except, that is, for the eight or so young men standing around the building, maybe twenty yards or so away from it, not really looking at the building, each other, or us. We hurried on our way.
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:12 PM on January 3, 2016

Reading Reddit is like visiting next week's Internet.
posted by Cobalt at 6:27 PM on January 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

In my early camping days I used an unusual hobbit-like structure on a remote, forested hillside. One night when I'd been there alone and undisturbed for a week I was awoken from a deep sleep by a loud crunching sound in the darkest part of the night. it sounded like the entire reinforced-concrete structure was a cornflake in the mouth of God. I was terrified.

The sound seemed to come from the front entrance, so I stood at the bolted, windowless door, pounded on it from within and screamed at the top of my lungs.

I could hear something heavy shift the rocks at the entrance, followed by an eerie squeaking and groaning. At this point I had sprung an icy sweat and could barely breathe.

When it became clear the thing was finally moving away, I managed somehow to open the door enough to shine my flashlight on a big old porcupine waddling off, having left chew marks on the wooden doorframe.
posted by kinnakeet at 6:30 PM on January 3, 2016 [21 favorites]

>Oh hey! I'm #14!

Hey now, you can't just drop that in here without some kind of explanation about that mask! That was my #1 unanswered question after reading that article.

This is the original comment.

This post has a bit more detail/speculation about what it might be.

But the follow-up about the results of the analysis is now missing the vitally important link that led to the actual analysis.
posted by flug at 7:00 PM on January 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

#8: Meth heads or an armed anti-government militia? It's hard to tell!
posted by radiomayonnaise at 7:20 PM on January 3, 2016

I've been out in the woods way more than 99 percent of people. There's probably something crazier that I've seen but the weirdest thing I can think of was hiking with someone far up a creek in the Smokies— like 2 miles upstream of the nearest trail in a watershed with nothing above it— when I found a machined piece of aluminum, bent up and sticking out of the ground. It was a circle about 10 inches in diameter with lots of flanges and holes. All I can figure is that it was debris from one of the more recent plane crashes in the park, though I'm pretty sure we were far away from any of them.
posted by Red Loop at 7:26 PM on January 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

Oh. Huh. Sorry flug, I guess that post was banned or something? Anyway I can see it on my account. I took a screenshot of what I posted here. I guess that's maybe why no one ever commented on it.
posted by sanka at 7:30 PM on January 3, 2016 [8 favorites]

On a cross country trip in our late teens, two friends and I found ourselves tired out and needing to find a place to set up camp before nightfall. We were somewhere in the Mojave, south of Death Valley and relying entirely our battered camp ground directory (late 70's version). We found a place in the book that had primitive camping which suited us because we were getting close to broke. When we found it after miles of dirt roads it looked like we were the only people for miles around. We got the tent up and got our cooking fire going. Sometime after dark as the three of us teenage girls were sitting by the fire, a big pick up truck drove up in to the camp ground very fast, pulling right up to our fire, blinding us in the headlights. We were scared shitless. Then just as quickly it went into reverse and sped away. We never saw the occupants, and we had no idea where the closest town was and were leery of heading out in to the unknown. But we were also too scared to sleep.

Eventually we must have because I remember laying in the tent at dawn hearing weird sounds of something in the campground. Eventually we got up the nerve to look and there was a herd of cattle moseying thru the scrub that made up the National Forest/Wildreness Area. Then we drove on to Vegas.
posted by readery at 7:44 PM on January 3, 2016

The Mask as it hangs in my garage now. It faces a window on the alley side. I like to think any potential thieves look in and see it and nope out. I should maybe backlight it with a red LED or something.
posted by sanka at 7:50 PM on January 3, 2016 [6 favorites]

In the 70's, hiking down Turnback Creek, near Sonora. I found the remains of wooden mining flumes from the 1860's or so, more or less scattered and rotting along the bed of the creek. Also a dozen or so small cabins in the rocks above the flood level. These cabins were entangled in a century's growth of manzanita and buck brush, smallish oaks, just above the remains of their sluices. Some cabins had been invaded by the brush, up through the floorboards, or pushing in through walls and windows. Many were intact. Inside I found rough furniture, wood stoves, ancient tin cans, oil lanterns with their mantles and glass covers still intact. Some still had iron cots or beds, the mattress ticking long ago confiscated by pack rats. Old coffee pots, cast iron pans either on tables, or hanging on racks; shovels, axes, picks, rock bars leaning in neat order along the walls. Except for the patina of rust and the absence of anything made of cloth, some of these cabins looked as though their owners might come back to them any day. I truly expected to find human bones, but never did. Although none of the inhabitants still lived, I felt that I was trespassing somewhere that was best left alone.
posted by mule98J at 8:51 PM on January 3, 2016 [10 favorites]

You people have seen some weird ass shit.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:43 PM on January 3, 2016 [3 favorites]

Oh hi everyone who has mentioned the "staircase" stories? What you meant to say was DO NOT GOOGLE AND READ THE STAIRCASE STORIES amirite?

Especially anything written by a any national park ranger. On reddit. For reals. Because that is the most seriously heeby jeeby thing I have heard in I don't know how long I mean how do you people sleep?
posted by Mike Mongo at 10:29 PM on January 3, 2016 [5 favorites]

The staircase stories started of good, but after a while it just got kind of silly. As in there is a major conspiracy of the Forestry Service.
posted by happyroach at 12:37 AM on January 4, 2016 [1 favorite]

The carpeting on the stairs was the LOL touch for me. Forest fiends with carpet world credits!
posted by benzenedream at 1:36 AM on January 4, 2016 [1 favorite]

It wasn't so much stumbling upon as a teacher in high school taking us there, but I have been to a two room mausoleum in the middle of a wildlife refuge. Some eccentric guy carved out two rather elaborate rooms out of sandstone with a hammer and chisel. When he died he was not allowed to be buried there due to health laws, so no bodies thank goodness.
posted by weathergal at 5:36 AM on January 4, 2016

sanka, I'm now wondering if some art major failed their final project when the mask they had carefully interred to simulate aging disappeared from its hiding place.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 7:11 AM on January 4, 2016 [4 favorites]

Anyway I can see it on my account. I took a screenshot of what I posted here.

Aha, thank you. For me, where the link would usually be here on reddit, it just says [removed].

And it was vital to my future mental health to have this mystery resolved once and for all!
posted by flug at 12:04 PM on January 4, 2016

Oh good grief, I started reading the SAR stories and couldn't stop.

Do you know how much time I spend in the woods?

I may never sleep again.

posted by slipthought at 1:41 PM on January 4, 2016

Just read the whole series as well. I love stuff like that.
posted by Splunge at 1:55 PM on January 4, 2016

and generally, most criminals plea to something

This is ridiculously and laughably false.
posted by agregoli at 1:58 PM on January 4, 2016

I had a weird experience in the woods a few years ago and I've always wanted to post it to Metafilter in case someone could shed some light on it for me! I'm not sure it rises to the level of other people's experiences here, but it freaked me out at the time.

In April 2008, I was an inexperienced hiker & budding nature photographer on a solo trip to Yosemite National Park in northern California. It was a midweek trip in the off-season, but Yosemite Valley was still pretty busy and I had to sometimes jostle for a tripod position at the good times of day. I was tired of the crowds and wanted to spend an afternoon with the giant sequoia trees, so instead of going to one of the popular groves in the park, I headed out of the park to the Nelder Grove instead, which I'd found online and thought would be prove less crowded for potential photos. Online directions indicated that the way to access the grove is off Road 632 and then a few unpaved roads. They were unplowed in early April and the snowdrifts were too high to drive through (especially in my little rental car), but my maps indicated that I was not far from the trailhead, so I left my car and marched off down the road on my own (with food, water, etc - not wholly unprepared).

It turned out to be a very isolated walk along a mountain road. Crowds? There were no other cars parked near mine, and I passed no cars while walking, and after about half a mile all the car tracks stopped completely due to the heavy unplowed snow on the road. I kept walking, wading through deep snow at points. My determination to see sequoia trees was mixed heavily with a real fear of encountering a bear or mountain lion. I really freaked myself out about it. So even though I did get to the grove and I saw & photographed some sequoia trees, I did not get very far down the trail (the Shadow of the Giants loop) before I turned back, overcome with fear about the feeling of total isolation and concern for being a "Missing Hiker Found Dead" blurb in the paper.

But that is when I heard the giggling shriek of a child. Very weird. I thought I was imagining it, but I came out of the woods into the clearing to find a big group (like, classroom-sized group) of 9-year-olds with a couple of adults in tow. They looked at me quite oddly, but they started past me down the loop trail that I'd just exited. I felt much better realizing there were other people up there, and sat at a picnic table to eat my sandwich, trying to calm myself down. But I was still too freaked out. I decided it was better to quit while I was still ahead. If I encountered a bear on the way back to the car, these people would obviously find my partially-eaten corpse on the road on their way back.

Imagine my confusion when I didn't see any new footprints in the snow on the way back to my parked car. I passed no cars or buses or shuttles. I got to my car and it was where I left it, no new tracks around it. I was completely confused and left wondering how on earth those kids got to that grove without going the same way as I did, or if I made up the whole encounter in my head, or if they were a class of roving ghost children who happen to haunt that particular trailhead. (If you have any insight, let me know.)
posted by aabbbiee at 2:33 PM on January 4, 2016 [5 favorites]

Damn you people and your damn staircases.
posted by Lyn Never at 3:04 PM on January 4, 2016 [2 favorites]

after a while it just got kind of silly. As in there is a major conspiracy of the Forestry Service.

you know, there is a reboot of the X-Files inbound. We can only pray Chris sees the light and licenses up.
posted by mwhybark at 6:02 PM on January 4, 2016

Somewhere out there, people are telling tales like these and all because of me.

I was working on some conservation work with a group of guys when I was younger. Our camp was hidden in the woods near a small metal stock tank. We used the water running into the tank for washing and cooking. Every day before and after work we would walk down to the tank with large washtubs to fill. We would chant, in unison, on the way down through the woods. It was something in Latin, I forget what. We would be wearing hard hats, horribly filthy clothes, goggles and bandannas over our mouths. We would fill up our wash tubs and bottles and chant our way back into the woods. The tank was slanted and on a slope. The top of the uphill side was flush with the ground, but the water level was about a foot below the lip. The downslope edge was where the excess water flowed out, but the ground was about two and a half feet down. In the mornings, we would frequently find rabbits that had fallen into the water and been unable to climb out. Over the course of the night, the soft tissues of the rabbits would have been eaten out by mudpuppies, large foot to foot and a half long salamanders, in the bottom of the tank. Every time we found a rabbit, we would take it, with great ceremony, uphill to a large tree stump. The area had been clear cut almost a century before and this stump had been preserved by the arid southwestern air. Into this stump we had pounded a cross we had made from sticks and rusty barbed wire. We usually found the rabbits in the morning and they were still there in the evenings. However, during the night the coyotes would come around and howl and eat the rabbit. They got used to finding them there and would always come around.
We were weird, yes. But imagine what the people who saw us across huge meadows or came across our strange little altar would think.

A different story:
A few decades later, was backpacking with a friend. On the edge of a large meadow, in an old burn with hundreds of trees all stripped bare and falling in the same direction, we found the skeletal remains of a herd of winter-kill buffalo, maybe a dozen. We were camping across the meadow and we were a little intoxicated. We spent the better part of a day moving scavenger-scattered bones. We rebuilt a small herd of buffalo into some kind of strange art piece. The animals we built did not follow the standard design of the American bison, but they were all aligned to look like they had laid down and died. Since there was no meat on the bones, the chances are those bones would go undisturbed again until winter and some animal needed the calcium. This was in May and a summers worth of people had the chance to hike near those carcasses. Sometimes weirdness in the woods is just weirdness in the woods.

A lot of these freak-out-in-the-woods stories sound like people who have worked themselves up into a panic. That sucks. I have felt that before.
As a kid, tents freaked me out because you hear things outside and the barrier makes them seem more weird. Now, I prefer to meadow crash or only sleep under a fly. Unless it is cold.

When you sleep out in the open in places with animals, sometimes you wake up near them.
One day, we were in a place with a problem black bear sow with two cubs. Before going to sleep, we saw some wolf spiders on our sleeping pads and I told one of my buddies that wolf spiders are called that because they hunt in packs. He got a little freaked out and cinched his bag up tight. It was a warm night. He was uncomfortable. I told him I was joking, but he was freaked out enough to stay wrapped up tight.
I woke up in the middle of the night when something took my leg in my bag and swept me sideways so I was at a 90 degree angle to my original position. I thought he was fucking with me, so I started to get up. At that point, I realized that it wasn't my friend. It was the sow, rolling logs, looking for bugs for her cubs. She thought I was a log. I had almost gotten up to confront her. Animals at night are freaky. Ungulates make some of the weirdest grunts and groans and barks.
posted by Seamus at 8:38 AM on January 5, 2016 [9 favorites]

Oh yeah, closer to home. We wander off the trails in the greenbelt near my home. There are many homeless folks who live back there and we try to avoid their sites out of respect, but sometimes you find yourself in a little grove surrounded by colored bits of glass woven in to copper wire mobiles or, if you are less lucky, the bathroom area.
One day, while bushwhacking, we came across a girls school bag. Next to the bag was a pile of school books, possibly middle school. Next to the books was a carefully folded stack of girls clothes with what was obviously underwear on top. In the middle of the woods. Not near a trail.
It was creepy. The worst part was that the police didn't want to hear about it.
Could have been a bag stolen or left at a bus stop that a homeless man scavenged, but the young girl clothes was just weird.
posted by Seamus at 8:58 AM on January 5, 2016

26. A Terrifying Tale, You Won't Believe How Surprising The End Is

One time I was fucking about in the woods and I came across some other people fucking about in the woods and I said "Oh No" and ran away so fast that I didn't even have time to gather up my mask, cloak, candle, or any other vital components of my elaborate forestry masturbation rituals
posted by FatherDagon at 9:06 AM on January 5, 2016 [3 favorites]

Guys, I just found the answer to my nearly-8-year mystery. I was poking around on the maps and realized that there's a Christian camp about a mile down the mountain from that trailhead. The kids had hiked up there from the camp! That's why they didn't use the main road or a bus through all that snow! I just checked it out and the camp does "outdoor school" classes (including on the sequoia) throughout the fall and spring for fifth/sixth grade students, so that's why they were there in April. It all matches up.
It's not like I haven't tried to figure this out before, but it's only been in the past few years that Google has added those icons to the map so you can see the names of businesses nearby. That wouldn't have been available to me in 2008 when I was first trying to figure this out. But now it's clear and makes so much sense and feels kind of obvious in retrospect.
I'm really glad they weren't a class of ghost kids, you guys.
posted by aabbbiee at 12:03 PM on January 5, 2016 [9 favorites]

From the TANS file:

Then there's the tale of the old packer who was leading a string of seven mules over the Silver Divide during a lightning storm. The air was so heavily charged that his horse's mane stood out in wild strands, and ball lightning bounced across the rocks all around him. Just before he started down the granite slope on the north side of the ridge the lightning balls converged on his pack string, lighting them up with a huge, magnetically charged flash. They found them the next day, him, his horse, and his mules, lying on their sides in a tight circle. He'd been electrocuted, of course, but his livestock all had their feet welded together.
posted by mule98J at 4:53 PM on January 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

Seamus: The sad solution to that is there's probably a homeless middle school girl who visits the camp. She may even be living there with a parent.
posted by Jilder at 9:32 PM on January 5, 2016 [2 favorites]

Jilder, it is definitely a possibility.
The clothes weren't in an established camp, just out in the woods. They weren't under any cover, just exposed to the elements. And they had been there long enough to weather some and collect detritus.
Any way you look at it, it isn't a part of a good story.
posted by Seamus at 6:34 AM on January 6, 2016

I remember driving out to western NC on I-40 at dusk not long ago. I was low on gas and between cities so I went as far as I could before finally pulling off at an exit with a gas station. I found this little gas station in the middle of nowhere completely deserted; the store was closed but I could pay at the pump. There was a house across the street, yard strewn with junk, no lights. A building next door to the gas station, no lights, no cars, and that was it, just me and the pouring rain. That was the longest fill up ever, I couldn't wait to get the hell out of there.
posted by indubitable at 9:08 AM on January 6, 2016 [2 favorites]

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