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  1. #1
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    Default homeless on the trail?

    I'm not sure if this is more a heads-up to people hiking the trail or just me looking for opinions... but I was hiking the AT in the Duncannon area this weekend and at the Clarks Ferry Shelter about four miles north of Duncannon, there was a man living at the shelter who was calling himself a thruhiker.

    Before anyone jumps down my throat, let me explain... he said he was "waiting on a mail drop" and had been living at the shelter for eight days. He had no food, wore jeans and a t-shirt, was missing a bunch of teeth, his backpack (the kind you buy for your teen for school, not a hiking pack) was held together by duct tape, and he was very off. He made friends with a group of Boy Scouts also at the site and ate their food because he had none of his own. He often repeated what other people said (in a strange way, hard to describe) and claimed to have yoyo'ed the AT three times. He also told the scouts that he's hiked more than 40,000 miles on long distance trails. Said he's been doing 25 mile days every day. Well, except for the week that he lived at the shelter.

    I was creeped out by him and ended up tenting separately so I wouldn't have to share a shelter with him. I know it's ambiguous to say he was "off" but that's really the only way I can describe it...

    So just a heads up to people hiking in that area. He said he was going to move on when he got his mail drop, but for some reason I don't think that mail drop is coming. It sounded like he planned to stay in the area (Clarks Ferry Shelter and Peters Mtn. Shelter).

  2. #2

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    Quote Originally Posted by hellomolly View Post
    ... he said he was "waiting on a mail drop" and had been living at the shelter for eight days. He had no food, wore jeans and a t-shirt, was missing a bunch of teeth, his backpack (the kind you buy for your teen for school, not a hiking pack) was held together by duct tape, and he was very off. He made friends with a group of Boy Scouts also at the site and ate their food because he had none of his own. He often repeated what other people said (in a strange way, hard to describe) and claimed to have yoyo'ed the AT three times. He also told the scouts that he's hiked more than 40,000 miles on long distance trails. Said he's been doing 25 mile days every day. Well, except for the week that he lived at the shelter.
    I read a really good story about these imitators in the NY Times http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/16/science/16crea.html

  3. #3

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    It's best to go with your intuition about odd folks.
    Your gut is usually right and it's better to err on the side of safety in all cases.

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by hellomolly View Post
    I'm not sure if this is more a heads-up to people hiking the trail or just me looking for opinions... but I was hiking the AT in the Duncannon area this weekend and at the Clarks Ferry Shelter about four miles north of Duncannon, there was a man living at the shelter who was calling himself a thruhiker.

    Before anyone jumps down my throat, let me explain... he said he was "waiting on a mail drop" and had been living at the shelter for eight days. He had no food, wore jeans and a t-shirt, was missing a bunch of teeth, his backpack (the kind you buy for your teen for school, not a hiking pack) was held together by duct tape, and he was very off. He made friends with a group of Boy Scouts also at the site and ate their food because he had none of his own. He often repeated what other people said (in a strange way, hard to describe) and claimed to have yoyo'ed the AT three times. He also told the scouts that he's hiked more than 40,000 miles on long distance trails. Said he's been doing 25 mile days every day. Well, except for the week that he lived at the shelter.

    I was creeped out by him and ended up tenting separately so I wouldn't have to share a shelter with him. I know it's ambiguous to say he was "off" but that's really the only way I can describe it...

    So just a heads up to people hiking in that area. He said he was going to move on when he got his mail drop, but for some reason I don't think that mail drop is coming. It sounded like he planned to stay in the area (Clarks Ferry Shelter and Peters Mtn. Shelter).
    Fairly obvious he was most likely homeless or a drifter. If you felt uncomfortable being around him, then you made the right decision to vacate. I believe I read somewhere that this has happened on more than one occasion, where people have taken up residence in the shelters and these types have had to be run off by the proper authorities.

  5. #5

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    Thanks so much for posting this. It's hikers like you out there being the eyes and ears on the trail that keep us all safe.

  6. #6
    Registered User d.o.c's Avatar
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    well we meet a homeless guy the other day in catawba he said he had no where to go and no money we told him to stay at the shelter like a mile from 311 last i heard he was posted up there for a lil while....hope he didnt cause trouble.....but dude strtd to cry when we pickd him up.....we told him he might be able to yogi food...idk prob not the best thing to do but i couldnt bring him home ha....usualy for the most part homless just want to hang out not usuealy a threat...at least thts wht ive seen

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    Quote Originally Posted by d.o.c View Post
    well we meet a homeless guy the other day in catawba he said he had no where to go and no money we told him to stay at the shelter like a mile from 311 last i heard he was posted up there for a lil while....hope he didnt cause trouble.....but dude strtd to cry when we pickd him up.....we told him he might be able to yogi food...idk prob not the best thing to do but i couldnt bring him home ha....usualy for the most part homless just want to hang out not usuealy a threat...at least thts wht ive seen
    Yeah I agree he was probably harmless... but isn't there some rule that you're not supposed to spend an extended period of time occupying a shelter? Plus it's just no fun to be hiking, enjoying yourself, and then come across an extremely creepy guy who is definitely off and who won't stop talking to you or making up lies about how he's hiked the AT ten times or something. Kinda puts a damper on the experience...

  8. #8
    Registered User d.o.c's Avatar
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    depends on where u are some have like 3 day limits others u can stay 30 days idk unless posted i dnt thnk there is a real rule on it...the lies are weird meth is a powerful drug and makes people realy off and wht have ya ive meet a few tweakers out here on Va trail they act realy off so mabe tht might be this dudes disfunction...but if he creeps ya out to much just keep goin.

  9. #9
    Registered User d.o.c's Avatar
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    the dude in catawba didnt act like he was on drugs just down on his life and he said somthn bout a divorce...and court problems

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    Quote Originally Posted by HikerMomKD View Post
    Thanks so much for posting this. It's hikers like you out there being the eyes and ears on the trail that keep us all safe.
    Quote Originally Posted by hellomolly View Post
    Yeah, I agree he was probably harmless... but isn't there some rule that you're not supposed to spend an extended period of time occupying a shelter?
    Many places in Pennsylvania, overnight stays are limited to one night only. The A.T. is a footpath intended for linear hiking, not camping primarily, and it is not meant to provide shelter for homeless people whose needs would be better addressed elsewhere.

  11. #11
    tnwolf51 tnwolf51's Avatar
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    wow the word drifter ummm what a word to describe someone going state to state on the at. makes ya rethink hiking.

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    On behalf of one of the maintaining clubs in the area mentioned - please, it would be good if you could call the ATC Mid-Atlantic Regional Office and relay your observations about this individual directly - 717 258-5771 - they can access resources up to and including Federal law enforcement if necessary.

  13. #13
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    Homeless, well you have to feel sorry for those who are down on their luck. My wife and I spent a month in the Florida Keys this winter and you could hardly find a spot at one of the picnic shelters, because they were occupied by the so called homeless. I don't know what this gentleman's situation is, but most I have met made a decision earlier in life that put them in the predicament they are in today. We all have to pay for our mistakes, but I don't feel we should have to be inconvenienced by those made by others. I'm sure some of you will feel that I am heartless, sorry, but I earned mine.

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by d.o.c View Post
    well we meet a homeless guy the other day in catawba he said he had no where to go and no money we told him to stay at the shelter like a mile from 311 last i heard he was posted up there for a lil while....hope he didnt cause trouble.....but dude strtd to cry when we pickd him up.....we told him he might be able to yogi food...idk prob not the best thing to do but i couldnt bring him home ha....usualy for the most part homless just want to hang out not usuealy a threat...at least thts wht ive seen

    I just don't see where directing homeless people to AT shelters and telling him to beg food from fellow AT hikers is a good idea. I'm not heartless but if he is already in town he would be better off being directed to check with local churches that might be able to send him to local resources to help with his specific issues.

  15. #15
    Registered User d.o.c's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by M1 Thumb View Post
    I just don't see where directing homeless people to AT shelters and telling him to beg food from fellow AT hikers is a good idea. I'm not heartless but if he is already in town he would be better off being directed to check with local churches that might be able to send him to local resources to help with his specific issues.
    u said beg not me i told him he might be able to get a lil but a roof water and a ****er is always nice...have u been to catawba its pretty spread out not very many churchs around here just gonna let a guy hang around...i dont see the problem if i was in his shoes i would stay there till i figured out wht to do next..

  16. #16

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    Yeah, I encountered 2 or 3 guys like this who were just "off." One guy in the Shenandoahs named "Yo-Yo," I think, who genuinely made me feel nervous. Another guy at a hostel in Damascus, and a third guy somewhere in NC, I think, who had two enormous dogs.

    It's a little bit annoying, but whatever. The great thing about public property or national parks are that anyone can use them. The only time I really minded was when these individuals took advantage of generous individuals in town and acted like Thru-hikers, thus giving us a bad name. But there were plenty of thru-hikers doing the same thing, I guess, and at some point, the phrase "hike your own hike" comes to mind. That earlier point about hikers all being drifters is spot on, I think.

    The only time I was kind of ticked off was when I was more or less forced to occupy close quarters with one of these fellows and he absconded with some of my resupply.

  17. #17
    Registered User d.o.c's Avatar
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    if a fellow hiker walkd up to u and said a i dont have any food or a way to get it for a while are u just gonna turn ur back...hunger is no joke if u got enough to share why wont you...if u were homeless and near the trail i bet u would post up for a bit..this guy may not be a hiker but hes hungrey just the same.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by tnwolf51 View Post
    wow the word drifter ummm what a word to describe someone going state to state on the at. makes ya rethink hiking.
    Thru hikers generally have a plan, a destination, a time frame, logistical planning (when, where, how to resupply) and a bit of cash. I don't generally think of a drifter as having these characteristics.

  19. #19
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    About 12 years ago I lived on the Presidio of San Francisco(it being cheaper for the DoD to put us up on a National Park than pay out BAH to my dad) and there were serious homeless problems there. Many of the recently vacated army buildings were being used by squatters, and some of the historical coast defense bunkers were occupied by the Homeless, and it seemed like a month couldn't go by without a tourist or resident running into trouble while exploring the park.

    It an unfortunate fact of life that parks are commonly occupied by homeless folk, bets you can do is mention it to a ranger(although really, if he isn't causing trouble...why bother?).
    ‎"You know your camping trip really isn't going well when you find yourself hoping to stave off sepsis with a six-pack of Icehouse. "

    "Age is not an accomplishment, and youth is not a sin."

  20. #20
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    Good thing nothing forces you to sleep next to somebody you've declared "off"
    up over the hills, theres nothing to fear
    theres a pub across the way with whisky and beer
    its a lengthy journey on the way up to the top
    but it ain't so bad if you have a great big bottle o'scotch

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