Personal Narrative Essay about Camping

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I spent the winter break of my freshman year in college. We were at their friend’s house one night, drinking in her basement with some other girls and it was late, like 3 AM. I was falling asleep so I decided to walk home. They live in a desolate area, with lots of snow and it gets really cold, especially at night, but the houses aren’t too far apart, and when the moon is out it seems light out.

The path we always take is straight behind the house through some wooded areas then more open land, and as I was shuffling home through the snow with my head down, I look up and to the left-my 10 o’clock and, probably like 75 yards away is another figure walking in the opposite direction. I saw him a split second before he saw me, and when he did he kind of jerked his arms/shoulders up a little, obviously startled from the sight of me as I was with him.

I laughed out loud for some reason, just from the shock or something, and gave him a little wave like ‘Oh you startled me haha sorry’ kind of thing. He just stood there and stared at me. I thought he was going to say something for a second and so I was stopped too just looking at him. He had a full-face ski mask on, and I could tell it was a dude cause he was tall. But he didn’t say anything. So for what felt like forever, it was just me and some stranger in a ski mask, looking at each other, in the desolate woods. In the middle of winter. At 3 AM. A huge chill went up my spine and a voice said you need to get the fuck out of here, right now. I turned and started walking as fast as I could home.

I have never been that scared in my life, I was a little drunk, stoned, and very paranoid. I imagined myself walking home from the opposite perspective, and the man was running up from behind with an axe, so I just screamed and started sprinting as fast as I could all the way home, thinking that this guy could easily follow my tracks in the snow, and I’m gonna get murdered. Luckily I didn’t, but I don’t think I’ll be visiting them again anytime soon.”

“I’m not sure it counts as another human being because we didn’t positively identify anyone…but a few years ago my friend and I were staying in a small cabin my Dad had on a remote piece of land in the Idaho wilderness. The nearest town was probably 50 miles away, and the nearest active road that wasn’t an old logging road was about two miles from the cabin.

My friend and I had been BSing and laughing in the cabin in our bunks and it was about midnight. We had turned off the lantern and were trying to fall asleep when we heard something that sounded like something had scraped the door. We both lifted our heads and mumbled a conversation ‘did you hear something?’ ‘yeah haha.’ Then…in the middle of nowhere, in this remote cabin, someone starts knocking on the door. Doesn’t say anything. Just knocks.

We were both in our 30s, but we were so scared shitless we didn’t say anything… Just lay there with our heads up staring at the door. We didn’t go out until it was light out again, and there was nothing near the door that would have tapped against it, and no animal tracks.

It freaks me out even thinking about it.”

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I camped in northern California with a couple of friends for 3 months straight in 2012. Were talking way out in the wilderness. The whole trip was a great success until we were heading south again. We set up camp a few miles outside of a tiny town as it was getting dark. The only things in this town were one long road, a gas station, a post office, and a bar. In the middle of the night, we hear screaming in the distance. We could discern three different voices, but they were far enough away we couldn’t quite make out what was being said. All of a sudden we hear a single gunshot, followed by absolute silence. I opened my tent and looked over at my friends who were looking back at me. None of us said a word, we laid back down and tried to sleep. The scariest night of my life. A lot of people wonder if we reported this to the police. What police? You need to understand that in this area 1 sheriff patrols 3 counties. That’s it. This area of Cali is what Sons of Anarchy was based on. I know that was TV and was dramatized, but there is some truth to what goes on in these areas. The sheriff is most likely in the pockets of the drug runners. It is in your best interest to put your head down and mind your own damn business unless you want to be next. We were kids with no resources, backpacks, and tents, hitchhiking through the NW. It would have been so easy to make us disappear next. I feel late to the party but this story seems relevant. A friend and I were scoping out an area for hiking because we were both new to the area. It was probably 6 pm but pitch black because it was the dead middle of winter when it gets dark at 4 pm. We drove down a dead-end dirt road to try to find a trailhead we had heard about. The road is probably only 2-3 miles long and we don’t see anything on our way down. We get to the dead end and turn around to head back out to the main road. About halfway from the dead end to the main road, we see a man standing at the edge of the road in tattered clothes and covered in dirt carrying a shovel staring us down. My friend and I both held our breath until we were back in town and asked each other if we saw the same thing. Hiking off the main trail along a river when I noticed some sweaty older dude in an open Hawaiian shirt had followed me into the woods…I press on until I reach a steep bank and an impasse and turn to head out, past him…I swerve through a canebrake to avoid walking by him but he still stops to ask, ‘Hey, looking for a good time?’….I said ‘fuck no’ and noped the fuck outta there. Mapping all livable structures for the census once, we had to take every road, open or closed, every trail that looked like it was possible to find a structure near. In the backwoods of Tennessee, I was training a crew, so I would go one day with each person. Found a lot of cool stuff, abandoned schools from the 1900s, some weird permanent campsites, all that. Once, we were about 4 miles into the woods on foot and stumbled onto a shack that had a moonshine still cooking with a coat hanging on a tree, a shotgun leaning against it. The girl I was training was all ‘Isn’t this exciting?’ STFU, Kayce, no it isn’t exciting at all to be the guy with a government badge finding an armed person cooking moonshine miles from anywhere. I work on the beach at night looking for turtles. Most nights you’ll see one or two people with a flashlight or a couple up towards the dune trying not to be seen. And most times the moon or the sky glow is bright enough that you can see at least 20m in front of you. But one night it had just rained so no one was out and the moon was covered and even with pretty good eyes I couldn’t see shit. I was waiting for a turtle to come up out of the water and kept hearing grunting and rustling in the dune. Initially, I thought it was a fox or at worst a coyote, so I figured it would go on its merry way. Nope. That thing sat there for half an hour making an occasional sound and moving around. The green turtle eventually heard it and was freaked out enough to leave (they’re skittish at the best of times). By this time I was by the water and so I started walking away to go find another turtle and the sounds followed me! Only this time it started saying things and shouting at me. Oh hell no. I booked it.

Unfortunately, my vehicle was back the way I had come so I waited on the other end of the beach for two hours and then decided it would probably be ok to walk back. When I get back to that spot a drunk guy is passed out and there’s a path of cans leading back into the dune. Dammit.

A trail I like backpacking in an isolated area of Pennsylvania was the setting for this odd encounter. The trail has a short section that goes over someone’s cabin property and continues on the other side of his yard, it’s marked with an orange blaze so you can see where to go. Usually, it’s an empty cabin, I always do some peering inside since it’s in a pretty secluded spot, probably 4 or 5 miles from a major road. One time I was hiking through and a large dude is grilling outside with about 15 Bud Light cans on the ground around him. I distinctly remember him saying ‘Keep it moving no food here,’ which I thought was funny since I didn’t say anything about needing food. Fast forward the following year and I decide to take my sister, my wife, and her best friend on a trip that takes us through this very spot. As we are walking up on it I see the dude is there again which is odd, since I’ve hiked the trail 100 times and this is only twice I’ve seen him. He is grilling again, beer cans everywhere. I see him start to give the ‘keep it moving’ signal until he sees who I am with. Now, the girls I travel with are attractive so I’m nervous all of a sudden. He asks us to stay for dinner and says he has plenty of extra food. I tell him no we are good, just trying to enjoy the trail away from the comforts of home. He gets weirdly pushy about us staying and I firmly say no thanks and we are just passing through. I hear the dude mumble to himself as we continue past his house. This is where things get weird. There is a prominent camping spot not far from this section of trail and it’s late in my head I want to keep going because I don’t want to camp near this asshole. The consensus is everyone is pretty tired so we set up camp. I’m nervous the whole time thinking this drunk dude knows three women are camping in tents near his cabin. I never get nervous around folk I see on the trail because everyone is usually very nice and wonderful to talk to. This guy just felt off to me though. Fast forward to the middle of the night and sure enough I hear someone on the trail outside the tent. I’m just praying it’s a bear at this point. But I hear the dude mumbling to himself and I panic. I hear him now in the camp. He’s going through our shit and is piss drunk. Fuck. Ok, think. I realize I have a blow horn on my pack I use on the trail to scare animals off should I encounter any. So I unzip the tent slowly and roll it out. Dude is fumbling around and it’s scary as hell because it’s the middle of the darkness in the middle of nowhere. I start to run towards him and blow my air horn repeatedly and it’s LOUD AS SHIT. Everyone in their tents starts screaming. The dude nearly shits his pants and starts bumbling the fuck out of there. Everyone is so shaken up at this point we pack up and night hikes out of there. Worst experience I’ve ever had. My buddies and I would hit up the desert at night and go 4 wheeling on the trails. This one night we had stopped for a break and this guy rolled up on us. He asks us if he can join us and we say sure. We continued riding and I was second to last, with him being the last one. We were pretty familiar with the trails so I kept looking back checking in on him not knowing how familiar he was or the experienced rider he was. As we’re approaching the hill that overlooks most of the area I look back and he’s gone. I flag my buddies down and we go back to look for him. Nothing. We go up the hill, kill our engines, and listen for his bike or look for his lights. It was pitch-black and not a sound. From the hill, I’m sure you could see for a few miles, but there was no trace of him. We looked for him or his bike till about 3 am and we were unsuccessful. It still kinda bugs me that a guy just vanished like that. I hope nothing happened to the dude.

This was maybe 12ish years back in El Paso, Texas. A lot of the riding desert areas have become heavily populated by now. We were scared out of our minds so our last thought was to call the cops. None of us had talked to the guy. He just rolled up on us. We asked him if he wanted to ride with us and he just nodded yes. We watched the news like hawks for weeks after to see if there was a body found or something and nothing. It’s kinda probable that it was a drug runner being that it was in a border town.

I was on my wife’s family’s ranch which is about 1,000 acres. I was scouting deer as it was deer season. I had my rifle slung on my back as I was walking through the woods. As I walk out of the woods onto one of our two dirt roads into the property. I saw two strangers sitting on the back bed of their white pickup truck. They had rifles in their hands. I approached them with a friendly wave. As I approached them I kept my rifle slung on my back to not threaten them. I asked them how they were doing and what are they hunting. They said they were doing fine and looking for deer. I then noticed 6 or 7 beer cans on the ground. They asked me the same thing and I told them that I was good and scouting deer as well. Here comes the hard part. I asked them how they got onto the property. They began to mumble and asked me the same question. I politely told them that my wife’s family owns the property. I then told them that they should leave. I told them to have a great day and started walking backward. After about 20 yards I turn around and start walking very briskly. I heard one shot in my direction. I hit the ground behind a bush and another shot rings out. I hear that ‘wizz.’ I immediately positioned myself to fire on them. I see one guy packing up his gun into the back bed of the truck. I aim for his right leg and fire. I get up and start running into the woods. I hear screaming. After 20 minutes I get back to my Tahoe and call the game warden and local sheriff. They came out after about 30 minutes and these poachers were gone. I told them all the details and descriptions and said I think I shot one in the leg. The next day I got a call from the sheriff saying they had a guy in the local ER with a GSW to the leg. He sent me a pic via text. It was the guy I shot. He survived and got 4 years in prison because this was his first felony. They never found the other guy. TL;DR, My wife’s family has a ranch, I found poachers on it, I told them to leave, they fired on me and I fired back hitting one in the leg and he got arrested at the local ER. In college, I lived near the edge of the city and there was this road nearby that winded through some forest before opening up to some farms. It was rarely used by cars and people avoided walking there because there were no sidewalks and it went nowhere. Halfway down the road was this abandoned property that had apple trees that produced a ton of fruit that always ended up on the ground.

One evening just after sunset, I passed the property on my way back from a run so I picked my way into the brambles to grab some apples. After I got a couple I circled back around some bushes to head home and right in the path was this middle-aged man creeping towards me with his hands spread like he was hunting something and I FUCKING LOST IT. I screamed and kinda flailed my arms so the apples flung towards him. He also jumped and went OH NO SORRY, SORRY, I THOUGHT YOU WERE A DEER and backed up into the road. He was super embarrassed and apologetic and I was way too happy to not be getting murdered to get mad, but holy crap, I thought I was going to have a heart attack.

Was hitchhiking in Greece, and got dropped off at a crucial fork in the road for my journey in the middle of the night by a super nice guy (he was going the other way). Had to camp for the night in the middle of nowhere and start again in the morning. His were the only headlights I saw from getting out of his vehicle to walking a half-mile into the woods. I set up camp, had some whiskey, and started to doze off. Before I could, I heard footsteps coming toward me. I am freaking out. I hear someone right outside of my tent. I yell ‘I have a weapon!’ and start to open the tent and they bolt. I see a figure running back towards the road. I closed the tent and stayed awake for 8 hours until the sun came up, fighting a sleep-deprived drunken sleepiness the whole night. It was the worst night of my life but I never saw whoever it was again. I used to often spend my summers bouldering with my friends by a relatively large forest that was about an hour and a half away from where I used to live. We used to spend some of the nights camping out there just to save some travel costs and time.

Anyway, I think this was roughly the third or fourth time we were out there camping, my friend had left all her climbing gear and her rucksack just outside her tent or we think she did anyway. The next morning we found her boots, and a few clothes, and all her chalk powder had disappeared. We figured that it could have been completely feasible that she misplaced it, although we were quite sure that they were next to her tent we didn’t want to believe that they were stolen. Anyway, we didn’t read too much into this and just stupidly said to ourselves that perhaps she had left it by the boulders and some animal took an interest in it… I know it sounds stupid but it was very reasonable to us at the time.

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Personal Narrative Essay about Camping. (2024, February 09). Edubirdie. Retrieved April 20, 2024, from
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