Some Wild Appalachian Trail Stories (and Alike)

Sep 02, 2020
Some Wild Appalachian Trail Stories (and Alike)

As we get closer to October 15th, more and more hikers continue to finish their ~2,200 mile trek from Georgia to Maine.

This is no small feat, as outlined by Bill Bryson's famous book A Walk in the Woods. 

Given the timing, we figured we'd scour the internet for some stories, and oh boy, did we find some good ones.

Taken By Mysterious Men

In 1988, a man was hiking along the trail when he underwent an awful experience perhaps more frightening than a ghostly encounter. He was hiking on the trail when he noticed a bright light coming from the forest next to him. Not wanting to bother anyone, he didn't investigate, but set up camp somewhere close by. 

He awoke in the middle of the night to find a man standing over his hammock. Startled, the man quickly fled and yelled to unseen people that the hiker was awake. The hiker was terrified and quickly packed up to put as much distance between them as possible.

A few days of non-stop hiking finally allowed the hiker to relax a little bit, but that night, he was sleeping in his hammock when suddenly he was cut down, wrapped up, and dragged away. He was beaten mercilessly while the people shouted at one another as they were preparing something. Luckily, The hiker was able to cut through the hammock and escape. Even though he made it back to civilization, police inquiries into finding the people who kidnapped him came back with nothing. 

Shadowhawk at PCT

On the PCT climbing Whitney. Up at 2 a.m., trying to make it to the summit for sunset. Of course the batteries on my headlamp die. It's pitch black. I fumble with my headlamp as I'm taking it off. It drops to the rocks at my feet. The little plastic piece that holds the battery cover in place apparently snaps off. I'm digging around in my pack for my spare batteries and something to hold the cover in place, still night blind, when I hear footsteps. Someone's approaching. But there's no bobbing light. Footsteps getting louder. What the fuck? Footsteps right on me. "How's it going?" "Hello?" "What's up? It's Shadow Hawk." It's a fucking guy named Shadow Hawk, never uses a headlamp, says he can see fine by the light of the moon and stars as long as he lets his eyes adjust slowly. We chat for a minute and then he continues on, summiting Whitney sans headlamp. When I finally get to the summit (headlamp taped together and working again), he's there playing a traditional Native American flute as the burning orange orb crests the plane of horizon. That fucking guy.

- Credit to apcthopeful

A Native American Knife

The 5 of us left Daleville VA. (Mile 727) with the intent to do the 10 miles N to Wilson shelter. An easy mileage out of town day. Myself and another thru were slowly bringing up the rear of our group, and about halfway there we noticed something laying on the side of the trail. We picked it up, and examined it, sort of looking at each other like WTF is this doing here. It was a cutlery kitchen knife, but it was decorated. It had beads, and streamers attached to the handle. It seemed like it was grossly fit to replicate some sort of Native American theme. It obviously hadn't been there long, it was clean of debris and dry (it had rained the night before).

We moved on to Wilson Creek Shelter. When we pulled up to the shelter the rest of the crew were there. They all had an unsettled look on their face. The five of us were the only ones at the shelter and as I unshouldered my pack I clearly noticed a lone backpack laying on the front end of the shelter platform. I immediately asked my fellow hikers "who's pack is that"? The answer from everyone was "we don't know". Me and one other hiker had just arrived, but the rest of our crew had been there a couple hours, and there was zero sign of a hiker that belonged to this mysterious backpack.

So, concerned, I began to slowly investigate the pack contents. The first things I pulled out were gallon zips filled with granola bars. There must have been 150 of them. But as I dug a little deeper I started pulling out almost a dozen colorfully decorated kitchen knives. One after the other I plucked them from the abandoned backpack. Common kitchen cutlery knives covered in beads, feathers, and colorful streamers. Also in the pack was a tent, sleepingbag, stove... all the basics, and all pretty much brand new.

The knives really unnerved us all. We started discussing what we should do. It was starting to get dark. Finally we decided to call the Sheriffs department.

Three hours later, around 10pm we saw a light coming thru the woods. We all became alert. I had a big stick in my hands. Alas it was two deputies responding to the call. They had hiked in from a road-xing 4 miles north. They were very friendly, thirsty, and their flashlight was dying. I could tell right away the Sheriff had not exactly sent his most experienced men, but then again NO ONE at that point realized that they were dealing with a murderer.

Much relieved we met with the deputies. They began examining the pack. When they discovered the granola bars they began eating them, as they did their police work. Suddenly they pulled a note out of the pack. Us hikers had not discovered the not. The deputies unfolded the note and read it aloud.

I don't remember everything the note said as the deputies read it aloud but I'll never forget the first few lines; "I am the one who killed his father. You may not know me now, but soon you will all know who I am. My work here (the AT) is done."

It was the most chilling shit I'd ever heard. Everyone went silent. Then the deputies started up some radio chatter with their two-way. They gathered up the contents of the pack. The deputies explained they were sorry, but they had to go, had to hike back out. So they bid us goodbye, and with their dying shit flashlight they hiked back out.

No one slept that night. I stealth camped in the woods with eyes on the shelter. The next morning Sheriff Ronnie Sprinckles and a deputy showed up at the shelter asking questions.

A week later our hiking crew went into Bunea Vista VA. for resupply. A hiker not within our group came up to us in town. He had the regional newspaper. On the front cover was the story I just told to you. A 16 year old had murdered his father in cold blood, stole his credit cards, bought a bunch of gear, and hit the AT as a means of escape. Police had picked him up a week after we found his pack. We had found his pack just a couple hours after he'd left it behind.

- Credit to KookeyMoose


I was hiking in the Hoh Rainforest on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington back in '03. I was trying to do this really snazzy hike from the Ocean to Mt. Olympus.

Well, day 1 is a blast, get everything accomplished.

Day 2, fog. Fog as thick as anything you can imagine. I can't get a decent GPS fix, so I'm pretty much blind, but I know if I follow the Hoh river upstream, I'll get to one of the campsites I'm going for. Day goes by, and fog isn't clearing up at all. I get to a fairly big clearing and set up my tent. I grab a power bar and chill out as it starts going to the darkest black night I've ever experienced. I'm seriously a bit unnerved at the whole thing...not scared as much as just...anxious.

About 2 in the morning, I start hearing this huffing noise. Like Darth Vader without the helmet on. My imagination starts to go freaky, and I reach for my flashlight. I pull the drawstring on the tent a little...very quietly...and poke my head out. Still dark as death. I hear the noise coming from maybe, MAYBE five feet to my right.

At this point, I'm seriously re-thinking my belief in sasquatch.

I poke my flashlight out and turn it on. I'm a few feet away from a MASSIVE Roosevelt Elk, who'd lost his way in the dark as well. He sees the flashlight, bolts the other way, tags a tree and knocks himself clean out.

I laid in the tent until I heard a groan, a bunch of commotion and the big guy grunt away.

- Credit to wjescott


I was backpacking in Yellow Stone above the tree line at about 10,500 feet. We are hiking on a ridge above a lake when all the sudden we come across a horse skull. No body just the skull, pretty cool looking. We get to our campsite not to far away from the lake near where we found the horse skull. When we get climb down to the lake we find the body of the horse rotting on the edge of the lake with with negative film strips floating in the water and laying around the shore near the body.

- Credit to orilykid

The Man In The Blue Jacket

Over the years when I have told this story, many people haven’t believed me, but it’s true as the sky is blue. Me and my brother were hiking out in our new backwoods (we had just moved in to a new house) and we stumbled upon a small open grass field. In the center of it, there was a person with a blue jacket crouched over. We thought it was a friend of ours that we had recently met, so I ran out to meet. I did not have my glasses on, but I got pretty close enough to see that it was a grown man leaned over the carcass of a deer, stabbing it with an unsharpened stick. He looked up, and saw me. I was pretty freaked out, so I turned around and yelled at my brother to run, and so we started to sprint as fast as we could back home.

- Credit to McQuack_Inc

Someone Watching The Campsite In The Dead Of Night

I work in the outdoor field and lead trips regularly. I once led a trip to the top of Mt. Stringer in NC. It’s a tough climb to get to the top and about 6 miles from the nearest road. I was leading a group of 8 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 thirty minutes but may have been 10. He then turned, 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.

- Credit to SenorPuffyPants