Undesireables on the road

Discussion in 'Trip Planning' started by bigphish, Sep 5, 2017.

  1. bigphish

    bigphish Curiously Satisfying

    Jul 9, 2009
    Wandering WNC and sometimes in Costa Rica
    As I age and mellow I sometimes wonder about what would happen if confronted by hostile or otherwise undesierable characters while camping
    Anyone with the any experience or am I also just getting a little paranoid??
    spokester likes this.
  2. shinyribs

    shinyribs doesn't care

    Sep 24, 2011
    The South
    I am self employed and do residental HVAC work. Over the past 20+ years I've found that 99% of all the homes ( home owners and renters) I work in are completely normal, friendly and generally just fine. I don't think the world is nearly as scary as the media wants us to think it is.

    However, I do still take advantage of my 2nd Amendment right in a completely legal and responsible way. $0.02
    rpiereck, motocopter, DougA and 17 others like this.
  3. firemanonabike

    firemanonabike Been here awhile

    Jun 12, 2014
    Never happened to me. But I have only been camping since I was 8, about 62 years ago. That includes camping in a tent, w/o a tent, in a trailer, backpacking, bicycling, rafting, in a car/pick-up, solo, with family , with boy scouts, deer and elk hunting, in the backyard, desert, and mountains. Maybe someone with more experience can help you .
  4. bigphish

    bigphish Curiously Satisfying

    Jul 9, 2009
    Wandering WNC and sometimes in Costa Rica
    You and I are about the same age and with equal amounts of experience. To be honest I have never encountered a bad situation but I ran in to a guy camping once years ago I would not turn my back on.
    Meriwether and Macho Man2 like this.
  5. GiorgioXT

    GiorgioXT Long timer

    Dec 5, 2003
    Frankly, I will be much more worried in a big city, maybe coming out from a bank respect camping in the wild.
  6. Mark Manley

    Mark Manley Long timer

    Apr 3, 2010
    Southwest England
    If I am wild camping I usually find an out of the way spot where I think I cannot be seen but on a few occasions I have been spotted and usually ignored or been approached by a curious passer by and I have just greeted the person in whatever language seem appropriate, exchanged a few words and left it at that with never a problem. I think you stand more chance of trouble in a bar or on the street than in the countryside, I would say pick your campsite carefully and don't worry about it.
    Ricedreamgirrl, Bacca and Meriwether like this.
  7. Karson

    Karson Been here awhile

    Apr 18, 2010
    Pretty much echo everyone's sentiments this far. IMO wild animals are more predictable than a meth head acting suspicious roaming around. That's why I just don't like people in general. Can't trust 'em!
  8. Turtletownman

    Turtletownman Been here awhile

    Apr 27, 2014
    In my limited experience, I've only been camping about as long as the earlier posters, meth heads don't go to campgrounds. I've backpacked on the AT and stayed in very crowded campgrounds during party events without problems. I would not leave a laptop, camera or even cell phone on the picnic table when leaving for the day, but most campers seem to keep their distance. At a certain vintage festival held in Alabama near a museum last year, the undesirables got very drunk and continued to get louder after waking up a lot of people. They left to take a ride. They did not attack anybody or steal anything. I tend to stay in campgrounds. Forest service is less than $10.00 a night most places and they have running water, showers and flush toilets.

  9. shu

    shu ...

    Feb 23, 2010
    I think it's a wise question, and I agree that it's generally more a problem in the city but I have had to deal with it a couple of times in 5 decades.

    My policy is not to allow a confrontation to develop in the first place. Once, my wife and I got up at one o'clock, packed everything up, and left the campground to go out and call the sheriff (somewhere in New Mexico) when two drunks ( a man and his girlfriend) began fighting and yelling. He was waving a gun around and no one else in the camp, including me, wanted to step into that.

    A second time, in a campground in northern Nebraska near Sturgis, some drunks rode into our campground about sun down and started drinking beer, yelling, and doing donuts and racing each other on the camp roads. We thought they would leave after a while, so we tolerated it and went about our business. When one guy yelled out he was going to make a beer run and they appeared to be going to make a night of it at the campground, we packed up and went to a motel.

    The third time, I did not have the option to leave, and I think I came close to getting shot. I was a teacher and had taken a group of 25 inner city 6th graders into the mountains for 5 days of travel and camping. We had reserved the group loop at a campground and the kids were learning how to set up their tents, etc. It was windy and I spotted a very large campfire up the hill at another campsite, so I walked up to check it out. A radio was blasting, the fire was roaring, and the camper was drunk, passed out in his car. I tapped on his window and asked him if he was okay and he said he was.

    Ten minutes later, he came blasting down the road in his car, driving wildly and running over the guy lines to a couple of our tents. Kids were terrified. I stood out on the road in front of him to get him stopped, and he threw the door open and jumped out and came at me. He had reached down to the floor before getting out and I thought he was getting his gun. His hands were empty, but he started yelling and insulting me, angry because I had 'rousted' him. By that time, three other adults had arrived to help out and we talked him back into his car and back up the hill. I drove out for 45 minutes to get a cell signal to call the sheriff.

    So my take on the problem: don't hesitate to leave the area and the problem behind if you can. And don't hesitate to ask the local law for help- they are better trained and more knowledgeable in handling possible violent situations. My third conclusion is that drinking is a factor in most of these kinds of problems, so I try to stay away from where the drinking is going on.


    TUCKERS the famous james

    Dec 23, 2005
    Villa Maria Sanitarium, Claremont, CA. USA
    Never take any other action......just call the LEO. Alcohol is illegal in many campgrounds, so it's a good way for the LEO to remove them. YES, we drink in camp, in moderation and in coffee mugs.

    PLUS...we've stopped going to 'motorcycle rallies' were the emphasis is on drinking.
  11. High Country Herb

    High Country Herb Adventure Connoiseur

    Apr 5, 2011
    Western Sierras
    In my experience, undesireables don't usually go to campgrounds. Yeah, maybe some drunk rednecks, partying 20-somethings, or screaming kids, but rarely criminals.

    Carrying weapon may still make sense depending on the local wildlife.
    pceire32 and sieg like this.
  12. nickguzzi

    nickguzzi Long timer

    Feb 17, 2010
    below the sea
    Not in Europe. Worst disturbance I can recall was a couple who fucked noisily for much of the night. I think a German guy went over and told them to keep it down...
    I have about about the same time frame as the #2 poster and others.

    In my limited non European camping - a year-ish on the road - when ever you stopped, people would come. Mountains, deserts, rivers, forests, lakes or canyons. Aged from 4 to 84. Most came to look. A few spoke. A few brought food or offered their homes and a meal.
    Never, ever any hostility or emnity. The majority were Muslim countries.
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  13. Beemer Dood

    Beemer Dood Been here awhile

    Jul 24, 2015
    Los Angeles, Ca
    In the late 1970's, a couple of us went out to Joshua Tree NP to do some rock climbing. Around midnight we heard the sound of bikes. LOTS of bikes rolling in. Poked my head outside the tent and saw hundreds of outlaw bikers from a well known MC club riding into the campground. We broke camp and left them to it.
    pceire32 and Phoenix101 like this.
  14. interiorak

    interiorak Been here awhile

    Jun 18, 2008
    I was a state and federal game warden, a LE defensive tactics and firearms instructor for twenty five years in seven western states including alaska and hawaii ... on urban, rural and remote landscapes. During the one of a thousand contacts that involved assault on me or another camper ... alcohol and/or drugs were always involved. Objective situational awareness was/is the key. Leave your ego in the tent and remember ... action beats reaction nearly every time. And action means timely flight ... or fight. As a motorcycle traveler on four continents since 1960 i've never had a "situation" that i couldn't avoid by not stopping and/or simply walking/riding away ... albeit fast sometimes (8->}
  15. warriorcole

    warriorcole n00b sch00b

    Apr 24, 2013
    Birmingham Al.
    Hi Bob. I really hate that you had a bad experience at that certain Vintage Festival. In defense of good ole Alabama, the offenders were likely from another state. Most people from the area sleep in their own beds rather than camp there. I have a pretty good group of tent-spacers stay with me from all over during Vintage and all has been well. I hope you come back.
    pceire32 and Macho Man2 like this.
  16. monkey wrench

    monkey wrench Been here awhile

    Dec 20, 2012
    somerset. ca
    Honestly, I think people look at me as an undesirable. People are generally afraid of “different”. Most of the time, different is safe.

    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
    mrgrimm, pceire32, husky390 and 2 others like this.
  17. Jamie Z

    Jamie Z I'm serious.

    Oct 17, 2006
    Around Denver
    Like many posters above, I've camped all over the US, parts of Canada, Europe, Mexico, Central America, a few places in South America. At worst, I've had an occasional oddball curious about me. I can't recall a single situation where I thought I was in any sort of danger.

    But that doesn't mean it can't happen. As Interior pointed out above, by far the best defense is retreat. I try to set up camp during the waning hours of light and I will usually take a walk around the immediate area to get a feel for whats around me. It lets me know if there are any roads or trails nearby, if I'm camping near anyone else that I didn't notice at first, tells me if this place is frequented by others and what sort of people depending of the amount and type of trash they left behind.

    If approached, I keep a friendly, but cautious awareness. I've never had to, but if it came to it, I'm prepared to bolt, whether on foot, or by vehicle. As above, most people who might cause you problems are drunk. You have a huge advantage on them. They may not know where they are. They probably can't run or drive as quickly as you. Even people who want to harass you are generally not a danger.

    The real danger is not the random stranger that walks up to you, but a Deliverance sort of situation where you're the target by someone local. But that's just a movie plot.

  18. froger

    froger Been here awhile

    Jun 30, 2011
    Gizzard Gulch, Oregon
    A lot of people hate camping where they can be seen. I get out of sight if it's handy, but have found it's not that important.
    If your hidden, sooner or later locals will find you by accident. Nothing wrong with that, I've had it happen and it never led to any trouble. But if you are visible but out of the way, they usually leave you alone.

    Suppose someone does mean you harm? Camped hidden out, it's just you and them. But where I'm camped, they risk having their dirty work being seen, maybe by someone who knows them. And if the worst happens, at least they'll find my body easy.
  19. Head413

    Head413 Adventurer

    Nov 22, 2008
    Copper Harbor, MI
    Break camp and go report to a LEO. This summer my family went down to the Ottowa National Forest to paddle a section of the Ontonogon River. We had scouted out a nice campsite at a National Forest location that provides a fire ring and pit toilet for the low price of free. Our plan was to get down their early so we could set up and then drive down to our entry point.

    We got down there around 8am and immediately I headed for the outhouse, too much coffee on the 2hr drive. When I get out I hear a loud voice just rambling on about, " ..COME TO MY CHURCH AND MAKE NOISE....THE PROBLEM WITH KIDS IS THEY NEED TO BRING BACK CHILD LABOR..." We had parked two sites down from the only other tent in this small 8 site location. I give the wife a look and she just kind of shrugs and says, " kid didn't know where you went and called for you, then that tent started ranting." OK. maybe he'll chill after a minute.

    Nope. Kept going like that, we got our tent pitched and we both felt a little unnnerved. He never got out of his tent, and he had no means of transportation, and this is not an area known for hiking, it's paddling trips and the like. Screw this I ain't staying, here. We agreed to find a different camp site later. We got our kids with us and even without them a confrontation would be dumb.

    Called local boys and told them about it. "Oh yeah, this time of year we do get some transients that use the NFS sites. " Ok thats fine. At least they can check on the guy, he could have mental issues, be a psycho, shit even if he just wanted the site to himself and figured out how to run off annoying families, whatever, I ain't checking.
    jfman likes this.
  20. Kurvenfieber

    Kurvenfieber stuck in Erg Chebi :-)

    Aug 17, 2014
    Karlsrhe Germany
    I´m not writing a lot, but I´ll do on that topic.
    I camped a lot, and the point is always where I am. In Germany or central europe in general, you´ll be spotted.
    So it´s mandatory to be legal where you are. I.e. Campsites or ask the land owner. so it´s better to stay near a farm house or go to one of the millions of sites where you can camp. There are also a lot of camp "spots", not really camp sites but safe.
    In camped in Russia, Siberia and all over the stans. In those areas it´s very dangerous to camp alone in sight. Because the biggest problem are drunk people. If they spot you they´ll come and they will caus trouble. so it´s a good idea to camp out of sight. We sometimes left the space we choose because we where spotted from a car, which was driving on. But who knows if they´d return when they are drunk and get silly ideas.
    In Mongolia almost everyone lives in tents. We just took a turn, drove to beyond the next hill, but sooner or later someone on a horse will show up, look at us, greets or even joins for a tea and leaves. First I thought this is unsafe, because they know we´re there, but on the opposite, once their dogs protected us from a pack of wolves checking our camp. In more populated areas: stop near dark (late enough not to have to stay too long in day light), and leave at sunrise.
    The main rule for us was: avoid drunks. All the others are none of a problem. If in doubt, stay at a gas station or other accomodation. And the more often you wild camp, the more comfortable you´ll get with it. I´ve lots of camp stories and all went well. In countries where it´s easy to get guns, I don´t really feel very comfortable.