Spotted on Trail: Fun & Weird Things Seen While Hiking

You can find all sorts of people out on the trails. Expert Hannah Kaufman shares some of her favorite—and weirdest—experiences.

Photo by Galen Crout
Published on

Trails are magical places where I truly believe anything can happen: good, bad, and probably confusing. And they are a judgement-free zone—or should be. So in no way is this article meant to judge or shame any of the things I am about to tell you all about—but rather offer some good memories, strange interactions, and overall, some hardy laughs.

Author's Note: Some of these were submissions from friends when I told them I wanted to write about this.

Trail Gifts

One of my favorite memories happened right after a break up with someone I truly loved. We had just broken up, I was in a house alone, and I didn’t know what to do with myself. I couldn’t stay home and cry, but I could hike and cry. (If you’ve read another article of mine, then you may know what I’m about to say. But if you haven’t, then you should go read that too.) I was planning on driving to Malibu, Calif., to hike through the Santa Monica Mountains, and I headed to Sandstone Peak.

Maybe 20 minutes past the trail head, I saw a man sitting on the side, staring blankly. I asked him if he was okay and he said he was fine, just waiting. Not sure what he was waiting for but we got to talking, and he told me he had just come from an organic farm and offered me a pack of kale seeds and a mini watermelon. I carried the watermelon with me to the peak and back down again. It made for a great post-hike snack!

A person holds out a small watermelon half with a spoon stuck in it. There are mountains and a lake in the background
Photo by Edgar Castrejon

A Repeat Encounter

A dude had a full Santa beard, and I saw him multiple times in different seasons towards the peak of Green Mountain in Boulder, Colo. He was always wearing an unbuttoned flannel (regardless how cold or hot it was) and carrying a Trader Joe’s grocery bag. To this day, I still wonder what was in that bag.

Getting the Perfect Pic

I saw a guy hiking this pretty intense trail while carrying a suit. We got to the peak around the same time where he got butt naked, changed into the suit, and took a picture. He then changed back into his hiking apparel and smashed the suit into his pack. I asked what he was doing and he said “It’s my new Linkedin photo.” That my friends, is what I call hard work and determination.

Leave No Cookie Behind

I was hiking through Death Valley during a winter break road trip with a friend. It was a Tuesday in January, and we basically had the entire park to ourselves. I think we saw five other people the entire time we were there. We were hiking through Mosaic Canyon—which has some pretty beautiful rock formations, highly recommended. We came across a nice shady area for a snack break when behind a rock I saw an entire sleeve of oreos. Except—and here is the weird part—only the cream filling was left, not the chocolate cookie part. I think that most people agree that the filling is far superior to the cookie. Who only eats the cookie and not the filling? What? ALSO: Leave no trace, which means eat the entire cookie and pack out your trash.

A Rough Ride

A car with bullet holes and the number 17 written on it. I counted the bullet holes—there were 17.

A rusty abandoned car sits among trees
Photo by Josh Duncan

Decorative Gourds

A pumpkin in a harness tied to a tree branch. There was a sign that said “Please don’t take my pumpkin, I’m coming back soon.” I hope they got their pumpkin back.

Pro snack tip: Roast some pumpkin seeds with cinnamon and nutmeg for a delicious and nutritious snack and make a pumpkin puree for either yourself and your doggo friend—it is very good for digestion and gut health. Turn it into a soup with some curry powder—yum. For your dog, add it to some peanut butter and flour and bake it for easy dog treats.

Spa Day

I saw someone on a massage table getting a massage at the most beautiful dispersed campsite in Telluride, Colo. Honestly, it seemed like heaven. I want a massage at the base of a mountain with wildflowers blooming and a stream running next to me. That sounds great.

Human Feces

This one speaks for itself.

Dolls

I've had multiple doll experiences: a naked, one armed-doll with the name “Annie” written across the forehead,and one of those creepy dolls with no eyes on a skateboard with three wheels. Classic.

A doll with only one arm lies on the ground
Photo by Artem Maltsev

Looking for Some Air Time

I was hiking with a friend and all of a sudden I heard someone yelling, trying to get our attention. When I finally saw the guy, I noticed he had an entire parachute with him. He asked, “Know any cool place I can jump and get some air time?” I did not unfortunately.

A Piece of the Past

In the Adirondacks, some friends and I were camping and saw an old plane crash. I did some research after seeing the plane and apparently between 1912 and 2007 almost 30 planes have crashed in the Adirondacks.

Water for Squirrels

On a very hot, Southern California day, I went to a nearby trail early in the morning to avoid the sun and people. I saw a total of 12 dog bowls with water in it. At each one there was a sign that said “Not for your dogs, it's for the squirrels.” Squirrels need water too.

Trailside Service

A friend of mine was participating in a trail running race, and one of the aid stations was staffed by high schoolers, all of whom were dressed as Alfred from Batman and were carrying rolls of toilet paper on silver trays. One of them also had an entire bottle of tequila and was offering shots to those who were running.

Fast Takes

A lamp in the shape of a butterfly in the middle of the trail. It was pink with purple polka dots.

A stack of pinecones neatly organized into a pyramid. I wonder how long that took, and why?

A cat riding a dog like a human riding a horse. I wish my dog would do this but she would probably try to eat the cat first (I’m training her don’t worry).

I saw a tree with a sweater on.

A hiker walks down a tree-lined trail
Photo by Hans-Jurgen Mager

Next time you’re on trail, ask the person next to you or in front of you or wherever they are, what the weirdest experience they’ve had on trail. While these experiences are rare for some and very typical for others, they add a nice surprise and change to the trail that definitely spices it up. And of course, don’t forget to hit me up and tell me all about it.

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Written By
Although I've been hiking for most of my life, I didn't start backpacking and camping until college when I joined the University Outdoors Club at my school. My first backpacking trip was ambitious, the Batona Trail in the Pinelands in New Jersey done in two days. To do that, we had to walk a maratho...

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