Stranger In The Woods

There is a road that climbs up a dense forest mountain. It is everything medieval but without the hustle and bustle of people. Or so I thought. 

We were driving on a forest road in the middle of Lincoln National Forest, scouting for another campsite. We had been exploring these parts for about a week and felt the need to set up basecamp. With internet service lost, using Gaia Maps to traverse was our only option. Meeting the adventure head-on and being ready for the risk is what exploring means.

As we ascended to 8000 feet, we passed a deserted car off the trail. It appeared to have slid into a ditch. I wondered how a vehicle like that made it up the mountain. "This is a strange place to see a car like that," I said to my wife, for the trail was rugged, narrow, and dark.

In a two-wheel drive, no faster than I could walk, we made our way up the mountain, passing melting snow drifts. But in the distance, a figure emerged from the forest. It was hard to see, but the silhouette indicated it was a man. He walked onto the trail and positioned himself toward our truck. Suddenly, he started to wave us off by making sounds and moving his arms violently. My senses heightened, sweat bubbled on my brow, my wife became worried, and "Rusty," my Jack Russell mix, started to growl. I did not accept the stranger's gesture. So I continued onward, passing him and ignoring his aim to stop us. 

As we advanced, we noticed fallen snow was thickening on the trail. A risk that was not anticipated. "I don't want to get stuck!" My wife said. I agreed; we chose to turn back around and proceeded down the mountain. 

On the descent, the man appeared.  But this time, passing the deserted car, he jumped out from the trunk and screamed at me. "I lost my keys!" But his trunk was open. The stranger pounded on my truck, indicating I had to stop.  Nervously, I asked my wife if it was ok to stop. But she declared that was NOT OK.  So, again, we did not stop and pressed on down the mountain. 

After arriving on a flat and smooth road out of the forest, we made our way to the Ranger Station. We reported what had happened and learned it was not the first time folks reported this. Weird huh?  The Chief Ranger radioed two foresty guys to make themselves ready and investigate the Forest Road we had just traversed. They said, "We will take care of it from here; thank you."
Who is my neighbor?  A better question about solitude, nature, and the human condition is, was I merciful? 
Was it ok to pass the man?

What do you think?


  1. The safety of Your family comes first……..No exception…..full stop, You did the right thing by reporting it…..

  2. I agree, thank you for the the comment.


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