There's something really majestic about hitting a trail and backpacking through the mountains or the wilderness. The sights you see? They can be incredible. The feeling of independence as you keep walking, unencumbered by the pressures of everyday life? They can feel fulfilling. The horror stories? Terrifying.
Believe it or not, they happen, especially if you're not careful as we learned after Redditor EinnVon asked the online community, "People who have done a multi-day hiking trip, what is your horror story from the trip?"
I'm a city boy. I think I'll stay right where I am.
"First night out."
Night 1 of a trip at Sleeping Giant in Canada, I believe. First night out, I'm always a little jumpy because it takes a while to get used to the sound of the woods, and this was no exception. It was a solo trip, so just me in a little tent on the edge of the forest, looking out onto a small slope down onto a pebble beach.
I was having some real trouble getting to sleep, the woods were just so loud and my mind kept jumping to 'serial killer' instead of 'normal wildlife'. I was trying to convince myself otherwise when I hear some heavier footsteps. Breaking twigs. My heart is in my throat because I just know I'm going to die all alone in the Canadian backwoods.
Then I hear a crash and some falling rocks directly outside my tent, and I work up the courage to turn on my flashlight and unzip the door to have a look... at which point I catch a glimpse of the very clumsy woodland elk that had just fallen down the slope onto the beach right in front of me.
Thanks for the clarification.
"Spent the whole night half asleep..."
Great Dividing Range in Australia. Doing it in summer, so we didn't take tents - just slept in sleeping bags in the open, under the stars. (We had tent flies with us in case it rained.)
Gorgeous. Except for the one night when we camped near a huge infestation of caterpillars. Fuzzy hairy ones. Spent the whole night half asleep, and peeling tickly fuzzy things off my face.
That's a big nope from me, dawg. Call me a wuss, but I hate dealing with bugs.
"My wife and I had set up camp..."
I was on a canoe camping trip, on a long narrow lake. My wife and I had set up camp about halfway along the lake, and all was well.
After dark, I went to wash my face in the lake, and I see two lights on the other side of the lake! (It was only like 50 meters wide). As I'm watching, their headlamps fade and die. And then something big starting snorting over there. A moose or a bear? It was pretty loud.
It was a still night, and so I called out to them: "Hey are you alright?"
It turns out they had accidentally started hiking from the wrong parking lot (delaying them an hour or two) and then when they got to the lake, they had hiked down the wrong side of the lake.
So I offered, and then went and picked them up in my canoe, and lent them a flashlight so they could set up. I think they were pretty relieved to have gotten away from whatever animal that was. If I hadn't been there, that would have had hours of hiking to get to the next campsite! Without lamps!
"I barely remember the rest of the tour..."
I went out to Muir in CA to see the redwoods. I did one of those old-person tours and that was one of the stops. Everyone in my group stayed on the ground trails, but I decided to take the elevated trail up and around. I was having a blast with my camera and relished the solitude within the forest. I suddenly realized that everything around me had gone quiet. Deadly silent. The only thing I could hear is the ringing in my ears and my own heartbeat pounding because I knew that meant a predator was in the area.
I did the same thing you did, and kept saying to myself repeatedly, "I'm not ready to die. I'm not ready to die," as I slowly made my way down. I didn't want to run because I didn't want to start a chase, but it was HARD resisting the urge to just scream and run for my life.
Suddenly there were birds singing around me again, and I heard a bunch of kids running and yelling up the trail behind me.
I barely remember the rest of the tour. The other people on the bus kept asking me how it was up there so I showed them photos from my camera but I was definitely in shock. The bus driver noticed something was up, I could tell he looked a bit worried. But I would crack jokes to distract him from questioning me.
"As we walk backwards..."
I was doing a one-night backpacking trip with a friend a few years back in some woods we didn't know very well. It was a very popular area for such things, and not particularly remote, so we weren't worried. The sunset snuck up on us a bit, so we were making camp in the dark. I was gathering some firewood by the light of my headlamp when I spot the unmistakable shimmer of a pair of eyes maybe 100 feet from me. My dumb @ss is excited because cool; wildlife! After staring at these eyes for a minute though, it becomes clear this is not a harmless raccoon; it is something big.
I don't have any sort of weapon and don't know how best to scare away my mystery animal. I call out to my buddy, who shines his brighter light in that direction. Turns out our visitor is a mountain lion. Maybe the fear distorted things but MAN that thing looked big. I didn't know much about them but I knew that if they attack you, they are spectacularly deadly. We decide to try and make a fire as quickly as possible since we figure we can't outrun the murder kitty.
As we walk backward toward our campsite, that damn thing kept perfect pace with us and never broke its gaze. The more of it I could see, the more I wished I couldn't. That cat was absolutely pure muscle. Luckily we had supplies to get the fire going very quickly, which had the effect we hoped; our stalker stopped slowly advancing on us. It appeared to think for a minute about its next move and then decided to maintain its current distance but circle us for a while. So now it's a stalemate.
Despite not being very remote, this area didn't have cell service back then, so we had no choice but to play the waiting game. We pitched our tent, made dinner, and tried to make jokes about the situation for the next few hours. The cat circled us for a long time maintaining his perimeter. At some point, though, he stepped behind a tree and we never saw him come out the other side. My friend and I had opposing reactions to this. I took the glass-half-full route and was relieved that it was gone. My friend's view was "well now he can be anywhere you idiot! It's not like we'll hear him coming if he charges us from behind!!" He was probably more right than me.
Eventually we are too tired to stay awake and aren't willing to risk burning the forest down so we let the fire burn out. No sign of our stalker for a while so we're hoping to sleep without being eaten alive. Luckily we did just that and I woke up the next morning well-rested and enjoying the act of breathing. As soon as I sat up in the tent and saw my friend though, it was obvious something was up. He was wide-eyed and looked pretty freaked out.
It turns out just as the morning light showed up in the sky, our feline friend came back to check on us. Apparently there was a funny yowly sound that woke my friend up and got closer to the tent over the course of 10 minutes or so. I didn't know at the time that mountain lions make a sound similar to a scream, which is very disconcerting when you're camping by yourselves.
Not that I cared though, my survival instincts were going strong as I happily slumbered. My friend hoped it was a bird at first but pretty much knew what it was. He didn't want to risk making any noise by waking me or getting out of his sleeping bag, so he just laid still hoping it would pass by. Apparently that harbinger of death got right the hell up on our tent and paused trying to figure out what it was. The windows were zipped shut, but my friend said it got close enough and there was enough light that he could see its shadow on the tent wall. It made another screech or two, sniffed around, and decided to move on.
So anyway, I wake up not knowing any of this, but just seeing my friend doesn't look good. I asked him what was up, and he says let's get out of the tent and he'll fill me in. I wonder now if that was because he didn't want to be the first one out of the tent. Maybe I had made too many jokes about how I could run faster than him, so he would likely be the tasty treat.
Luckily, the hike out was uneventful and this whole event was nothing more than education for us. We always carry a gun while camping now, though we've never seen anything else even close to that scary. Read up on your local predators ahead of time, kids. And definitely bring one really slow runner on every trip.
Why would I want to go somewhere I might be stalked by a mountain lion? I'm cool where I am.
"We found him again..."
Leading a youth group on a hiking trip. Lost a kid.
We found him again but I don't think anything will compare to the fear of losing someone else's child.
This has "horror film" written all over it.
Getting lost in the woods is not my idea of a good time.
"It was supposed to be..."
It was supposed to be a two night stay in the backcountry in Grand Teton National Park, with my parents. The day we hiked out, it rained the entire day and only got worse when we got to where we were camping. Everything was soaked through despite our best efforts (this was far from the first backpacking trip we'd been on), and we ended the day with sleet. I ended up wrapping myself in one of those emergency foil blankets inside my sleeping bag to get warm. We were so miserable the next morning that we threw in the towel and hiked back to civilization... in perfect weather. Every single person we crossed paths with the next day was shocked we'd even bothered going out the day before.
Moral of this story: if you compare your father to Ron Swanson on a regular basis, don't let him make decisions about activities if inclement weather is in the forecast.
"But the worst..."
When I was a kid (like 10ish?) my parents took us on a family vacation, a week-long backpacking trip through the Smokies.
It was mostly fine, I still look back on it fondly. But there were big millipedes everywhere and you had to be careful when packing up otherwise you'd probably roll one up in your tent or something.
But the worst was I went into my sleeping bag for the night and I felt something crawling along my leg. It felt like an inchworm, but it was, in fact, a bee. Somehow. Fortunately, I'm not allergic, but dealing with a bee sting in my calf right before bed some 10 or 15 miles from the trailhead... not fun.
"My only real horror story..."
My only real horror story was learning the lesson that the weather report for the nearest town does not reflect the weather at the top of the mountain where the open-face shelter is. When you pack for a low in the high 40's, sleeping in single digits is rough.
Also grew up in swampier parts of Florida. Wildlife can startle you. Not really "scary" once you know what to look/listen for. A cougar makes a horrifying sound if you don't know what it is. If you are near water in nesting season, always check for gator nests nearby. You don't want to find one while you're mid-dump. That does make a good laxative though.
"Did a miscalculation..."
Kepler Track New Zealand. Did a miscalculation on the number of calories two adults needed for the four-day trek. Had nothing but one jerky stick left and minimal water when we barely caught the last shuttle from the end trailhead back to Te Anau an additional 14K away. Whenever I think of the hungriest I've ever been it's the last half-day off that trek.
When we got back to our rented room we ordered two pizzas and a dessert made of berries, ice cream, and chocolate. I can not remember what the pizzas tasted like or even what we ordered. I only noticed the food going into my mouth at dessert. It was the most beautiful flavor I've ever experienced.
Have these stories put you off of hiking yet?
Here's a life tip: You can be a city boy like me and just not do it. It saves you a lot of trouble. (I'm being facetious, by the way.)
If these stories only further awaken the adventurer in you, then have at it.
Have some horror stories of your own? Feel free to tell us about them in the comments below!
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It's easy to get caught up in the past.
...so long as we knew what time of day it was going to be on.
What's something nostalgic for your age group?
Video games today are horrible!
Give us a 2-dimensional side-scroller of an Italian plumber fighting a dragon monster and nothing else good for many more years after that. Who needs all these fantastic releases, year in and year out, every year?
How Do We Enable "Big Head Mode?"
"Up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, b, a, select, start"
"My toddler son has a toy game controller that plays a little jingle if you put this code in. I loved that they put that little Easter egg into a kids toy and it makes my husband smile every time he does it."
When Was This Old? *cries in tired old man
"Anytime recently I've tried to get back into Minecraft it breaks my heart because the game just feels so different now. I played it from 2010 up until 2018 or 19 almost religiously, but the past couple years have really changed the game. I'm sure it's just as fun to play now, but it doesn't have that same nostalgia factor anymore like it used to."
Tests Of Parenthood
"Neopets in 2005"
"My girlfriend at the time made me take care of one as a test for being a father. Literally."
Some things you long for aren't actually possible to do anymore, leading to the reasoning this is why the nostalgia is at an all-time high. What's worse than missing something that no longer exists?
The Smell, The Sounds, The Sights, The Ambience
"Going to Blockbuster with my friends on a Friday"
"Renting cheesy horror movies and making fun of them with the group!"
You Can Miss That?
"Dial up modem noises"
"Kiiiiiiiiiiii…kiiuuuu…kiiiuuuu.. it was something like that right? I even forgot."
"And then I used to open yahoo login page and do some other work for few minutes and come back while it loads, and then enter id password, hit login and then get a coffee until it loads."
Illegal, But, Yeah
"I remember the really early days of mp3 sharing, before P2P came along. There were hundreds of FTP servers that you could connect to with huge libraries of mp3s. No domain name, just a raw IP address that you found somewhere on usenet."
"But they couldn't just give it away, because then everyone would take and nobody would give. So they had quota systems: you'd upload an mp3, and for every byte you uploaded, you'd get to download 2, or 3, or maybe even 5. And this was over dialup, so uploading or downloading a single file could take 30 minutes."
"But it was FTP. Very simple and dumb. There was no memory of your "credits" between sessions, so if you uploaded a bunch of stuff and then lost your connection, you were SOL."
"It amazes me to think how much time I spent getting a few songs that today I can play any time I want on Spotify."
For some people, this next section will sound silly.
For others, this was our childhood, which sadly (when you really think about it) revolved around a television schedule we had no input on, meaning we had to plan everything out around when the next episode of Power Rangers aired.
Cartoons After School Are The Best
"Anime on Toonami. Cartoon Cartoon Fridays"
"Toonami had really great western cartoons as well. I loved watching Samurai Jack, Ben 10, Teen Titans, and Clone Wars on Toonami growing up."
"Old Cartoon Network, spiky gelled hair"
"Old Cartoon Network" is an interesting answer because people are gonna have different ideas about what "Old Cartoon Network" is. I think of Ed, Edd n Eddy and Codename: Kids Next Door. Another commenter mentioned Gumball which is still well after my time."
When Life Revolved Around Someone Else's Schedule
"Born in the 70s, grew up in the 80s...I remember huddling around the TV as a family to watch certain things."
"For some reason, they would show The Wizard of Oz every year on network tv..and it was a big deal. My mom would make popcorn...in a pot on the stove (It was the 80's) and we'd sit on a blanket on the floor and watch."
Or Friday Nights....Dukes of Hazzard (when it was new). Mom would get takeout from Burger Chef...and we'd sit on the floor eating hamburgers watching 'dem Duke Boys at it again."
"Or in the summer....they'd show Creature from the Black Lagoon 3D on tv. 7-11 would give out free 3-D glasses."
"For the younger Redditors....this was well before any kind of streaming/on demand service...and back when cable TV and VCRs were still a luxury that a lot of people didn't have. So, you really only got to watch what was on the few channels that your antenna allowed."
"Another one is coming home from school to watch old shows like Gilligan's Island, The Munsters, The Addams Family, Batman, F-Troop."
"Or staying up late and at midnight....the TV would play the National Anthem....then show a control screen and just "BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP" like this: https://youtu.be/Cnchea6LHN0"
The good ol' days.
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When determining how to spend our life in a way that feels worthy, many place a heavy emphasis on experiences. We want to die with scars and stories.
And sticking our necks out inevitably leads to a whole lot of struggle. But that doesn't mean we wouldn't do the same thing the very next day if we could go back.
Some things, though we'll never do them again, were too important an experience to pass up.
Redditor JackIrishJack asked:
"What should you do once, but not twice?"
Many people talked about the life experiences, big and small, that influenced their outlook. They recommend people go through some discomfort to gain important awareness.
A Capacity for Empathy
"Working in the food industry I feel like everybody should do it once so they can have a respect for food workers but it's also a hell I never want to go through again"
Paying for a Daydream
"Buy a lottery ticket"
"You're not going to win, but buying a lottery ticket gives you the chance to dream and pretend. Having a second lottery ticket isn't going to make your dreams more vivid."
Plenty of Implications
"Visit Auschwitz. I firmly believe everyone should go visit it so as to not forget what humans are capable of doing to each other. But no need to visit twice. Once was enough for me."
Others brought up things which, if done twice, would be a sure sign that something is very very wrong.
Supposed To Be Permanent
"Learning how to walk. The first time - good on you. Having to
relearn a second time means something went terribly wrong."
Only Two Sets
"Lose all of your teeth" -- Outrageous_Cream_112
"Haha I had to think about this for a second" -- ApplesauceDoctr
Don't Wanna Find Yourself There Too Often
"Get beaten half to death breaks the concepts of your limits. Second time breaks the spirit. Third time is overkill."
Others apparently viewed the question as an opportunity for a little cleverness.
If You're Good
"Cut...you measure twice before." -- wxguy215
"For me its more like 'measure twice, make sure it's just a teeny bit too long then go back and shave it off little by little until it wedges in perfectly' " -- pistpuncher3000
As the Saying Goes
"Fool me" -- Thia_suzieUzi
"FOOL ME THREE TIMES FU** THE PEACE SIGN LOAD THE CHOPPA LET IT RAIN ON YOU" -- nixusthegod
Only a Couple to Work With
"Donate a kidney" -- RealisticDelusions77
"Donate one kidney, you're a hero. Donate two kidneys, you're a corpse. Donate three kidneys, you're a felon." -- Drach88
"Be born. Going through the birthing process again would probably kill my mother." -- cylonrobot
Here's hoping we can all find the healthy balance between living a full, experienced life and punishing ourselves a little too much.
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Whenever I visit clothing stores, I make it a point to fold the clothes I unfurl. That is apparently my downfall as a customer.
Because of this, fellow customers often peg me as an employee and always ask me questions like where the bathroom is, or if the store has certain sizes left in stock.
Umm, no, I don't work here. I'm just a responsible customer. As you were.
Many of us make assumptions about other people just by looking at them. Who knew we were so presumptuous?
Curious to hear the experiences of strangers online, Redditor lilmizzvalz asked:
"What do people assume about you, based on your appearance?"
People often misinterpret moods based on how someone looks. That's unfair, wouldn't you say?
"That I'm caring and supportive. I have a resting nice face."
"That I am always mad. Nope just dissociating and staring off into space."
Not Meaning To Be Mean
"That I'm mean. I have a resting mean face for a dude I guess. Also lately it's worse because I'm bigger now. I don't really notice how my face appears but apparently, I seem angry when I'm looking at stuff."
"'You should smile' and 'are you ok?' comments followed me from busboy, waiter, bartender my whole career."
When it comes to measuring intelligence of others, some people are just way off.
Hard To Live Up To Expectations
"That I'm clever. People keep saying it to me, but I'm dumb and that sh*t is hard to live up to."
"I have glasses."
Eyes Full Of Wisdom
"I apparently have something similar going on mixed with looking like I know sh*t, because people come up to me in public and ask about directions, bus schedules and stuff all the time. Like, they'll deliberately avoid other people to ask me. Including when I'm abroad and should look a bit out of place."
"They assume I have an intellectual disability. (And also that I'm deaf, since I'm not able to speak.)"
"No, I am a person with two university degrees who happen to need a wheelchair because of a nasty neurological illness."
People don't always look their age. Some don't even act their age. But these Redditors have gotten their fair share of wrong guesses for their ages.
"That I'm 15."
"I'm 38 and a doctor. 'Did you just finish school?' EVERY DAY."
"This thread was depressing to read as I am 38 but often get mistaken for 50. I hate y'all and your youthful beauty."
Some people are typed out as certain types of people with just one look.
Watch Your Tone
"That I have a southern accent. Not one stranger has ever suspected that I have a 'New Jersey' accent (Born and raised in New Jersey before moving south)"
Not A Biker
"That I ride a Harley and/or work on them. I'm bald with a long goatee and tons of tattoos, but I'm in IT for a living and don't ride motorcycles at all."
Like others have expressed in the thread, I've also been accused of having "resting b*tch face."
You know, that neutral expression where you're not smiling the one time you're not in a situation where you have to be "on" for other people?
Yeah, that one.
If someone's resting face comes across as unfriendly, well, perhaps it's best not to upset them by asking them what's wrong all the time. Just sayin'.
Ideally, a teacher should take the job because of a genuine interest in helping students, furthering their education as well as their self-development. Of course, it's not as simple as that (administrative issues aside). Unfortunately, there are some teachers out there who aren't cut out for the job––and they even have a mean streak when it comes to their students. The effects this can have on the learning process are dire.
Teachers don't get paid well, and they're well aware. Many stick with the job because they have a passion for teaching; many others stick with the job because of the position of inscrutable authority it offers them over helpless students.
People shared their experiences after Redditor Ara-Rat asked the online community,
"What did your teacher do that made you call them 'the worst teacher ever'?"
"Questioned 5th-grade teacher's manner of pluralizing a word on the board. Got sent to the library to look it up in a dictionary and report my findings to the class.
Decades later and I'm still mad at that woman for trying to publicly humiliate a ten-year-old student."
That's awful. What is with adults who try to deliberately an example out of children?
"My old band teacher..."
"My old band teacher threw a projector at his students. He left the district later that year."
That was... probably for the best, when you think about it. (I had a teacher who threw a girl's pencil case out the window when she wouldn't stop talking; no, he was not fired.)
"My 3rd-grade teacher..."
"My 3rd-grade teacher got frustrated with a kid's stutter and started pounding the kid's desk with a closed fist while mocking his stutter."
Hopefully this teacher was disciplined and/or fired. That's the sort of behavior that thankfully would not fly today––it would go viral so fast.
"The worst were the teachers..."
"The worst were the teachers who would take books away from me and hold me up for ridicule because they disagreed or didn't approve of the genre or subject material. I was always into science fiction and horror genre's and many of them didn't consider it true literature worthy of reading. I remember my father getting into it with one of the teachers who disapproved of Robert Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land, to which he pointed out it was on the required reading list of a lot of major universities. Dad was awesome like that, and chewed the teacher and principal out for having the temerity to try to stop any student who wanted to read, regardless of what the genre was."
Teachers who mock students for reading are the worst. Reading is one of the best things any student can do––there are so many benefits! Hopefully you have not lost your love of reading.
"When I'd instinctively try..."
"She tied me to my chair. I was hyperactive, and also 5. She would also hold my hand during formation in the mornings and squeeze so hard my tiny knuckles would crack. When I'd instinctively try to pull my hand away, she'd hold onto it and smile at me and ask me if it hurt."
The abuse here is almost incomprehensible. But it happens: a few years ago, a teacher made headlines for hanging a student by his coat on a coatrack. You can bet there were lawsuits.
"I was in the only dress I owned..."
"Tried to get me suspended for a dress code violation when I was 15. I was in the only dress I owned at the time because I was going to my best friend's funeral. She'd committed suicide two days before. I was crying and begging her to just let me stay till my mom picked up my remaining friends to go to the funeral. Said teacher then took me to the office and I had to sit in the front office under a tarp until my mom picked me up."
"My 8th grade English teacher..."
"My 8th grade English teacher never published grades and every time I'd ask her about it she'd answer with, "I don't know, what do you think it is?"
IF I KNEW WOULD I BE ASKING?!"
I've had a few teachers like this. Makes one wonder: Are you actually grading anything? WHAT are you doing, exactly?
"My biology teacher..."
"My biology teacher took my yearbook away right before the summer break. I didn't put it away in time.
That year my parents divorced and I was moving away. I told her this after class and she didn't care. She kept it until the last day. I didn't get any signatures.
Ended up throwing it away. What a witch."
"My university lecturer..."
"My university lecturer was the most incompetent bloke I've ever met. He taught I.T and for the life of me, I can't figure out how he got that job.
- In the first lesson, he got us to sign up to Twitter so we could share lesson content, tweet at each other so we'd get to know one another, and also tweet him. Everybody, including the lecturer, used Twitter once. We just used the university intranet to share stuff.
- Again, during the first lesson, he announced he was going on holiday for four weeks during our first term.
- All of his lessons were PowerPoint presentations, each slide had about a paragraph of text written on them which he would read out loud while awkwardly looking over his shoulder. Once he was done doing that he would essentially repeat what he had just said.
- One day he asked us for help in booking his airline tickets online because he couldn't figure out how to use the website.
As sad as these stories are, consider that these teachers are very much the exception to the rule. The majority of the teachers I have known over the years genuinely care for their students, work tirelessly on their lesson plans, and would never tolerate a single moment of the behavior featured here. Thank you to those teachers for doing their jobs––we appreciate you. (And ya'll deserve a raise, it's honestly messed up how little lawmakers understand about how hard your jobs actually are.)
Have some stories of your own? Feel free to tell us about them in the comments section below!