Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Black Bears, and Murderers

Usually the biggest concern when camping locally (besides for the weather) is the potential for running into black bears, or having them run off with your food bag.  But unless you are prone to watching horror movies or telling scary stories around the campfire, you don't typically worry about killers in the woods.

I recently wrote a post describing a backpacking trip that my daughter and I took to Harriman State Park back in late September, before she had to return to school for the fall quarter.  What I didn't mention, though, was what we found out when we returned from the overnight...

When out on the trail, I turn off the GPS, mobile network, and wifi on my phone unless I need those functions, in order to save the battery.  So, I don't receive email updates until I get home.

We had a great overnight camping trip from Tuesday the 25th of September to Wednesday the 26th - fine weather, and we almost had the park to ourselves during mid-week.  As we emerged from the trail and were returning to our vehicle, I did notice that a large white SUV drove past us very slowly, then turned around at the bottom of the hill and passed us again - strange; but it looked like the driver had an official patch on his shoulder..so probably a ranger (just a little unusual to see one in an unmarked vehicle).

Anyway, when I got home and reactivated the network on my smartphone, up popped my email.  The first message happened to be the electronic newsletter from the NY-NJ Trail Conference, so I thought I'd give it a quick look to see if they had any news regarding Harriman or Bear Mountain trails.  Imagine my surprise when the first item in the newsletter was a warning for hikers to refrain from traveling in Harriman State Park until further notice, while a tri-agency manhunt was on for a suspected murderer.

It just so happened that a local man was suspected of shooting his daughter-in-law on the Sunday before, after she filed for a restraining order from the man's son.  The suspect, a 73-year old hunter and outdoorsman, then disappeared into Harriman State Park; and was considered armed and dangerous.  They called off the search after 10 days, and I don't think they ever did find him...he could still be out there.  That's definitely the makings for a campfire story or local legend.

I guess bears aren't the only things to beware of in the woods...

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