The last post about a bad experience on the AT made me start thinking about some run ins I have had with sketchy guys on trails in the past. I have never had anything quite like those two women experienced, but I also do everything I can to keep myself out of situations with sketchy dudes.
Thanks to the copious amounts of weed growing in North Georgia, I have seen guys on several occasions that did not look like they were out there to enjoy the woods. Usually I just say hi and keep on walking and look over my shoulder for a while and that is that. Every now and then, I see a guy that really makes me cautious.
One that sticks out is a guy my wife and I met when we first started backpacking together. We were up at Jacks River in North Georgia and were doing an overnighter back when that was still allowed. For those of you not from the area, Jacks River has two main trails going to it. One is 12 miles with 22 river crossings that can be very tough depending on recent rainfall, and the other is five miles that might as well be paved. We have seen groups of people take rolling coolers on that trail, so that should give you an idea of the mix of people that you can see out there.
One time we were out there and we took the wrong trail that put us about a mile upstream of where we wanted to be. It was getting kind of dark, and while we had plenty of lighting (I have been carrying 20 flashlights on all trips since I was 3), we still wanted to set up while the sun was out. On the trail down the river to the falls campground, we came across a guy that was by himself in an area where there were no campers even close. He was shirtless, which is probably smart during a Georgia summer, but that exposed the unholstered 1911 pistol he had tucked into his waistband. Again, this is Georgia and that is in no way unusual (we rednecks love us some guns), but the way he invited us to share his camp and booze with him and his suggestion that we not go down to the falls made me a little wary. He had a little bit of a crazy look in his eye too, which furthered my desire to be elsewhere.
We ended up down at the campground by the falls at dusk and set up with a bit of sunlight to spare. There were a few other groups in the area, but we were secluded enough that we had some privacy. I realized that the decision ended was 100% the right one when a group of college kids came over and offered us a huge steak that they had left over. I guess their steak buyer was not a math major.
Now, I have customers that come in to my store every day that look exactly like that guy that we decided to move away from and they are the nicest guys in the world. I’m sure people I have met on the trail have said that I looked squirrely at some point in my life. Still, I did not feel comfortable in the situation, especially with my wife there with me, so I removed myself from it.
I really want to hear about any situations that any of you might have had with people in the woods that just did not feel right, so I thought I would start things off. Discuss in the comments or the forum.