Labor Day weekend is made for camping. The dog days of summer are over and the weather is cooling down, making it the perfect time to gather up s’mores ingredients, pack your bags, get out of the house, and get ready for a weekend of relaxing by a crackling fire.
But camping isn’t always that idyllic, is it? There are the mosquitos, the threat of bear attacks, and the creepers lurking in the woods with terrifying shark teeth, ready to rip you apart…
Okay, so maybe the silver screen dramatizes camping a bit. But in real life, it sometimes isn’t all that great, either. In fact, sometimes it can be downright terrifying. Take it from the folks over at Reddit, who pitched in with their stories of the most spine-tingling, goosebump-raising camping stories after unemotionals asked the question, “Campers or Rangers of Reddit, what’s the most unsettling, creepy, and/or supernatural thing that’s happened to you while in the woods?”
The top comment was submitted by DrJimDanger, and is a story that’s both innocent and, in retrospect, terrifying.
When I was about 18 me and some friends took a road trip about 7 hours or so down to the Apilachicola National Forest near Tallahassee FL. We were going to do a little car camping, drink a few ice cold Natty Lights. You know, 18 year old stuff. As such we didn’t want to be bothered by any park rangers so we drove waaaay deep into the woods.
Got there, set up camp, had said Natty Lights, and me and a guy decided to go do a little exploring, so we walked about 100 yards from our site back to the main road, saw another path directly across from us, and started walking. Immediately we started seeing signs that someone had lived there for a while. Big bags of trash, stuff like that. Should have been a huge red flag to turn around. But you know. 18. Nothing could hurt us. So we get to this camp site of an older white guy living out of his van. Clothes lines strung up, coolers placed around it, and a big gorgeous dog, I think maybe a golden retriever. We tried to back out, but he sees us and starts talking. He’s friendly enough, asks us where we’re from, tells us about some cool spots to check out in the park, we end up chatting for ten minutes and going on our way. I kept thinking to myself how odd it was that he gave directions in steps, not yards or miles. Guy always seemed to be off balance. Not stumbling drunk, but like he was walking on a balance beam, swaying side to side. Oh and he was SUPER excited to talk about national parks and forests where we were from.
Ok. Camping part over. We went back to our tents. Fast forward two months, same buddy calls me late at night and tells me to turn on TV to the news, I oblige. I see an old dude with a van. You see where this is headed but I didn’t, so I get pissed at my friend for waking me up. “No, WATCH.” And then I see the golden retriever and it all clicks. What the fuck. That man’s name was Gary Michael Hilton, convicted of at least four murders. He kidnapped and murdered a girl on Blood Mtn GA, an older couple in the Pisgah NC, and a girl in the Apilachicola at that camp site not long after we left. Yes, the very same places he had been talking to us about.
Obviously we call the cops, they put us in touch with the FBI (F is for Florida), and we get flown down to take investigators to the camp site. Point out every spot we saw anything, tell them exactly what he told us, and show them the places he described to us. I didn’t find out until after the trial, but apparently they found what appear to be partially destroyed human finger bones in an area near the site. Had to fly down again to testify.
TL;DR: went camping with murderer by mistake. Had to help with investigation
OGDinosaur’s comment certainly sounds supernatural:
Not a camper or ranger, but an archaeologist.
A few years back we were doing a massive survey in the middle of nowhere in the interior of BC. All the crew had gone home and it was just my boss and myself left for a few days to follow up and confirm some coordinates and finish some mapping.
We head out from the motel an hour or so into the bush. Middle of nowhere along deactivated logging roads. Closest town is miles and miles away. We hike out to this one area we had found a site a few weeks previously. For some reason the whole area just felt…off. So, we get down to business and about 15 mins after being hunched over mapping, there is this WEIRD deafening “WOMP” sound. Like, I could feel pressure in my ears. I immediately looked at my boss about 20 feet away and he is white as a ghost staring back at me. Standing, it fucking happens again “WOMP!” ear pressure and chest pressure like I was just squeezed. Chills all over my body and every hair is standing on end. My boss just looks at me and says, “let’s go!”. We grab all of our shit and speed hike back to the truck.
(But, in retrospect, was probably a grouse, as another commenter pointed out. OGDinosaur did, in fact, confirm that they were in grouse territory.)
Thekeezler’s story of an unidentified man with territorial issues outside of Crescent City, California is slightly terrifying:
In the pitch dark with all of our tent windows and canvasses closed I was awoken at 1am by someone whistling outside of our tent the tune of “when the saints come marching in”. After a few minutes of this repetitive whistling I nudged my girlfriend who awoke and was obviously freaked out as well. The whistling then turned to chanting things like “when you sleep here you disrespect me, and when you disrespect me you disrespect the US Marines!” The person would then start spelling out words like “F.L.E.E”. The verbiage and tone kept getting more aggressive so we decided we had to make a move. I slowly unzipped the tent while our guard dog was snoring and got my head out if the tent. I took a few seconds to let my eyes adjust and figure out where the person was. I felt more confident once I could somewhat see and hear so I climbed down and the girlfriend passed me the dog and she climbed down too. We flipped the tent up without securing it and we jumped into a truck (while the person was still whistling) to a motel in crescent city.
Of course, not all the stories shared are scary. Some are actually sort of funny, like rogerairgood’s tale of his father’s run-in with bears, trains, and the Mounties: