I was once canoeing the boundary waters between Minnesota and Canada. These aren’t your normal backyard ponds. The boundary waters are thousands of enormous lakes interconnected with each other (think mini-great lakes). We had been canoeing and camping along the lakes for about a week at this point. We didn’t really have an itinerary, just planned to boat and camp, fish, and live off the land two weeks. We had a GPS and a sat phone to call a helicopter for pickup whenever we were done.
Anyway, about a week in and we were set to canoe a few hours to the next lake. An hour or so in and we are in the center of a extremely long and narrow lake. Unfortunately, a storm started to blow in and the waves on the lake swelled to 2+ feet. Too much for our dinky canoes. We pull off to a random clearing on the shore and set up camp in rush to avoid being totally thrashed by a rainstorm. We just setup camp and hunker down for the night.
By the next morning it had cleared up. We started walking up the coast of the lake about 200 feet from our camp looking for a good fishing spot. What we actually found was another campsite. However, it was ABSOLUTELY wrecked. Trash strewn everywhere, tent collapsed and torn, clothes on the ground. At first we were just like disgusted like what assholes did this? or left their shit out to be bear food?
The more we looked around though, the weirder things seemed though. For one, their garbage was still hoisted into a tree to keep it safe from bears, but the whole bag was ripped open despite being 30 feet in the air. Second, literally everything except the canoes were still at the campsite. Clothes, packs, food, rope, pans, like a serious set of hiking equipment. Enough for 2 or 3 people. Half of it was trashed and torn open, mostly the packs, tent, and clothes. The other half was totally untouched but thrown on the ground. Like somebody NOPE’d the hell out of there in nothing but their long johns ditching hundreds of dollars of gear in the process. We waited a couple hours and eventually called it back to our helicopter crew– but they hadn’t been aware of anybody else or gotten any distress calls. We eventually just left everything and moved camp. Everybody was pretty upset by it and a day or two later we ended the whole trip early because it seemed like nobody wanted to be out anymore.
It was the weirdest thing I’d ever seen. First thought was bear attack, but there was food left uneaten, and I’ve seen bear attacks on camps before, but nothing like this. Bears rip open packs and go after food, and are generally pretty easy to scare away. What still sticks with me is why all their clothes and packs were still there with half being totally destroyed and half being untouched. I still don’t get it.
I’ve done a lot of other camping and hiking, rafting and biking, all around the country and I’ve never had any other weird experiences like that.
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