We've all been frightened by things that go bump in the night, but imagine hearing those scary sounds isolated in a forest, miles away from mankind and any sort of salvation. That's the reality for many park rangers. Rangers are often left to venture out and care for parks on their own, often going weeks or months without interacting with another human being. In that quiet time, some pretty creepy things can happen out in the wilderness.
We hiked over to Reddit, where we found some of the creepiest things park rangers have seen or experienced. From nature at its roughest to unexplained phenomena, these tales may make you want trade in your tent for good.
From Redditor /u/SenorPuffyPants:
I once led a trip to the top of Mt. Sterling in North Carolina. It's a tough climb to get to the top, and about six miles from the nearest road. I was leading a group of eight middle school kids and had one co-instructor. We were camping out on top of the mountain, and it was a beautiful night with a full moon. The kids and the other co-instructor went to bed in their tents. I chose to spend the night in a hammock that night. I was really into a book I was reading so I stayed up and read until about 10:30 PM. I turned my headlamp off to settle in for the night.
Everything around me was rather bright from the moon and from the position I was in. I could see down the trail we had hiked to get to the top. I laid there enjoying the scenery and noticed something moving on the trail. Bears are common in the area so I perked up. As it got closer, I could tell it was a person. We were in the middle of nowhere and there was someone hiking up the trail with no headlamp or any gear. I was just frozen, watching this person move closer to our camp.
They arrived at the top of the mountain where we were and just stopped. I watched as what appeared to be a man surveyed our camp. I really could only see the outline of him. He stood there for what seemed like 30 minutes but may have been 10. He then turned and sat down under a tree facing our camp. He was sitting up in a way that I knew he wasn't trying to sleep. He just sat there staring at our camp. I had no idea what to do. I decided to wait it out. I waited, just staring at the man while he stared at my camp. This went on until about 3:30 AM.
Then, he stood up, took a moment to survey my camp a few minutes longer and then went back down the trail he came up on. I, to this day have no idea what that was all about but it freaked me out. I was paranoid that we were being followed for the rest of the trip.
From Redditor /u/Homeless_Hommie:
[I saw] a human thumb nailed to a tree.
From Redditor /u/GenesisProTech:
There was a group of teens that hadn't been heard from after their scheduled return time from a camping trip. [A coworker] and I head out in the general direction the teens had set off in. We'd been hiking for most of the day and seen nothing. We're about 35km into the woods at this point when we start noticing odd things. Sticks carved like spears stuck into the ground, weird carvings in the trees, a child's stuffed animal hanging from a noose up in a tree. This place was nowhere near any roads, it wasn't on the regular trails people would go on in the area. The really eerie thing was that everything was freshly-carved. Somebody had been there within a couple of hours of us and made these things. Mind you we're still looking for these teens.
We kept on hiking and eventually made camp for the night still kind of on edge from what we had seen earlier but we settle down anyway and go to sleep. We get up with the sunrise hoping to cover more ground before it gets to hot. We pack up the gear and get ready to go when I notice a bit of shirt that had caught on a small tree and ripped along with some shoe prints. We were thinking: great maybe we're close by to the teens, when a radio call comes through.
The teens had just been found 20 kilometers east of us, and they're calling everybody back. All those weird things we had seen from the day before came flooding back into my mind, and we wasted no time hiking out of those woods.
From Redditor /u/RIPEOTCDXVI:
I'm a ranger at Yellowstone. Couple weeks ago I was exploring the Lamar Valley, about 11 miles from the nearest road and even further to the park boundary.
There, in the middle of the trail, is a perfectly severed deer head. No blood, no raggedness at the severance. Perfectly in tact.
This is weird because I have seen wolf and bear [spoils], and I used to find cougar [prey remains] in SD with radio tracking just after the cougar made them.
This was not any of those things. The head was completely uneaten - eyes, tongue, everything intact. Even the ravens hadn't touched it yet. No caching, no [droppings]. Right smack in the trail, but again, no blood.
Even a human doing it made no conventional sense. It was a doe so it had no antlers, plus, why leave it in the trail?
Whole thing, even in broad daylight, gave me chills. Just an ocean of waving grass, bison calmly grazing, and a perfectly clean deer head right on the path.