I was thinking about how many years I've been a wilderness ranger, and it's been about 16 (I still consider myself one, even though lately I seem to be navigating a wilderness of bureaucracy). That's a long time to be out there. Just for fun, here are the top ten weirdest things I've found:
1. Decapitated Barbies. Rather disturbing. (Alvord Desert, Steens Mountain)
2. A string of dead mice.Possibly understandable, but still disturbing. (White Cloud Mountains, Idaho)
3. A rubber chicken. (Alvord Desert)
4. A volleyball painted just like Wilson in Castaway, found on a small island. We worried and checked the seaworthiness of our kayaks. (Chichagof Island, Alaska)
5. An inexplicable number of hard hats on widely spaced beaches. On the positive side, I didn't have to bring one of my own for the requirement that we wear one in the woods, since I could count on finding one. (Both Baranof and Chichagof Islands, Alaska)
6. A horse. Okay, not strictly wilderness here, but a wildlife refuge. This horse had escaped from somewhere and was living in the wild. (Panther Refuge, Florida) While I'm at it, I should mention the cat someone was carrying to the summit of Mt. Whitney (CA)and sheep that had gone feral (Nevada)
7. Lipstick. Maybe it's perfectly reasonable to pack this in for a camping trip but not in my world. (Sawtooth Mountains, Idaho)
8. A computer monitor. What else can I say? (Chichagof Island)
9. Shoes. How do you forget your shoes? (Sequoia National Park, CA; White Clouds; Baranof Island.
10. And something equally mysterious: The Leatherman Triangle of Wildhorse Canyon. At least three Leathermen are known to have vanished at this one campsite in Oregon. I personally have never found them. What lurks there and why does it want our Leathermen?
Next time: The most common stuff people leave, on purpose, in the wilderness, thinking they are being helpful.