Sunday Morning Shorts: Week 5

Short stories told by our ambassadors. Each week a different prompt! 
Grab some coffee - Grab a seat

What is the oddest interaction you've had with a stranger on trail? 

The oddest interaction I've had with a stranger on trail might be while paddling in Northern Saskatchewan. We were windbound on a narrow, rocky peninsula waiting for a weather window in which to launch our canoes. Northern Saskatchewan is incredibly remote, and it was extremely rare to encounter other people. On this particular day however, a man in a small motorboat appeared and came close enough to shout "Hey! What are you doing out here? You seen any moose?" We responded that we had seen a couple throughout our trip, but not many. Our visitor shouted back - "That's cause we eat 'em! They're our beef!" After an abrupt goodbye he drove his boat away. Odd interactions in Northern Saskatchewan. -Dani

3 years ago I was out hiking one of my favorite spots in the White Mountains known as Crag Camp. It is a beautiful hut with glass windows on one side that sits on top of a 500ft cliff. When I first started up the trail it was a warm sunny day, but half way to camp the trail started to get pretty steep. The sun disappeared, and the rain started coming down pretty hard. As I came around a corner I could see someone about 100yrd in front of me. I didn’t think twice about, but as I got closer I started to notice this guy was wearing jeans, new balance sneakers, a cotton long sleeve, and was carrying a school back pack and a trash bag. A little unusual! Once I caught up to him I asked him where he was heading, hoping he too wasn’t going to Crag Camp. He didn’t seem to want to talk much, but he informed me that we were in fact headed for the same spot. After a couple more questions that were quickly answered in one-word responses, I pass him and continued to hike. As I did this I glanced over at him and noticed a 12inch woodsman knife and a 9mm strapped to his hip belt. NOT a typical site. I got to the shelter a couple hours later and found 8 or so hikers already there. A little while after I arrived the man showed up soaking wet with his trash bag still in hand. He said nothing, walked over to one of the sleeping rooms, pulled out his sleeping bag that had to weigh 5lbs-soaking wet, and went to sleep. Two hours later the guy just got up, packed up his stuff, and left. As he walked out the door everyone else noticed his gun and knife, and immediately began chatting trying to determine who he was and what he was doing here. A little later on that night a couple showed up to the camp asking if we all heard the gun shots that came from the mountain side. To this day I still don’t know what happened to the man but it sure was a strange day in the woods of New Hampshire. -Erick

I met a ptarmigan once. I saw him in the brush, and gave him a friendly “Hello.” His first impression of me didn’t seem overwhelmingly positive. He sort of barked at me with a couple of quick yaps as if to say “backbackbackback!” I couldn’t understand him too well, but it seemed to me that he was being unnecessarily cranky considering my friendly approach! He took a couple of steps back and stood super still, pretending not to see me. I don’t know if he thought I was blind, or just a fool, but Mr. Ptarmigan, if you’re reading this, I saw you. I’m not sure what I did to offend you- maybe my hair was a little messy or maybe I just smelled a little off-putting. I guess some people just don’t respond well to “Hello.” - Ethan

A couple of years ago myself and a group of high schoolers were camping outside of a small native community in the Brooks Range of Alaska. We went through our normal campsite set up routine, but as we sat down to start making dinner we heard someone yelling off in the distance. Myself and my co-leader went to investigate, and quickly discovered a seemingly furious middle aged man walking toward our site. While it was initially difficult to figure out what he was yelling about, as he got closer it was clear that he was instructing us to “get off of Inuit (Nunamiut) land.” He told us he was an elder and that we were not welcome within their community. We were very caught off guard and hastily attempted to inform him that we were part of a YMCA group from Wisconsin. We earnestly tried to explain that we were by no means trying to intrude. After a minute or so of us frantically attempting to apologize and describe how we meant no disrespect, the man started laughing, and explained that “he was just messing with us.” We were relieved, and after a while longer of chatting he invited us to the only pink house in town for a “shit, shower and shave.” We declined, but as we hiked by the pink house the next day on our way to the ranger station, we gave our new friend Andrew a wave! -Lloyd