What Would You Have Done?

6zfshdb

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Northeast Pennsylvania
In the thousands of trail miles I've logged, I thought I'd seen it all. I was riding a rural and fairly remote section of the Pine Creek Trail this morning and came up behind this middle aged guy. He was walking down the center of the trail, idly swinging a double edged hatchet! I stopped about 100 feet behind him to decide what to do.

There was no-one else around and we were several miles from houses or a trailhead. I was in an area where I rarely encounter a walker let alone one wielding a weapon! Do I turn around and try to detour around him? Should I follow at a safe distance to see what he does? Should I call the police? There was no cell service at that spot so this wasn't an option. Besides, he hadn't actually threatened me so no crime had been committed.

There was no easy detour around so after thinking about it, I decided I was just being paranoid. I moved closer and rang my bell. He hadn't seen me at that point and it startled him. He stopped swinging the hatchet and, moved to the side of the trail but made no threatening move toward me. He was neatly dressed and didn't look deranged so I passed giving him as much space as possible. I watched in my mirror as he moved back to the trail center and resumed swinging his ax! It was one of the most bizarre experiences I've had on the trail so far!

In retrospect, I wonder if I made the right choice. What would you have done?
 

Solarcabin

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
Maybe he was afraid of bears or practicing his Ninja moves?

Lot of strange people out there but most are harmless.

Instead of the bell I would have probably said "Hey friend, mind if I pass you?" and watched his reaction and how far he moved off the trail.

I am usually CCd when I ride but you might get a can of bear mace and keep in your pocket or belt holster just in case. Works on bears and Ninjas.
 

J.R.

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
The times have altered our expectations. I would have done as you did and rode on. On my home trail we have a guy that walks the trail with a machete and a long length of paracord with a heavy piece of hardwood attached at one end. For years he's walked miles and miles, throwing that cord into widowmaker tree limbs that hang over the trail. Pulls them down and hacks them up so they don't fall and hurt anyone. Really nice and helpful guy with a 30" machete.
 

Nvreloader

Active Member
Region
USA
Why would you even think about it, as there was no threat at that time?
Does he NOT have the same rights as you do at that time/place,
Being in a public place enjoying a walk along a public trail etc.

Maybe HE was afraid of the section of trail/area, bears, cougars, bad people,
Maybe he was clearing another trail/pathway, unknown to you?

Carrying/swinging a hatchet is NO crime, unless that action is directed at you or another person, (unless there is a law in your area, prohibiting such action.)

I personally would have asked, if he was OK or needed help,
from a respectful distance, (I do carry 24/7/365), if he stated that everything was OK,
I would have thanked him and rode off down the trail. Just MHO.
 

Sparky731

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
What scares me are people carrying loaded weapons. Legal or not, it makes me very uncomfortable. My fear of death comes from an errant bullet. It could even come from a biker on a trail shooting at a bear, misses and hits me.

I realize I am way off base with gun lovers, but that’s me.

I fear less a hiker with an axe or machete. The guy with the gun will always win the argument.
 

Djangodog

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Claremont, NH
In the thousands of trail miles I've logged, I thought I'd seen it all. I was riding a rural and fairly remote section of the Pine Creek Trail this morning and came up behind this middle aged guy. He was walking down the center of the trail, idly swinging a double edged hatchet! I stopped about 100 feet behind him to decide what to do.

There was no-one else around and we were several miles from houses or a trailhead. I was in an area where I rarely encounter a walker let alone one wielding a weapon! Do I turn around and try to detour around him? Should I follow at a safe distance to see what he does? Should I call the police? There was no cell service at that spot so this wasn't an option. Besides, he hadn't actually threatened me so no crime had been committed.

There was no easy detour around so after thinking about it, I decided I was just being paranoid. I moved closer and rang my bell. He hadn't seen me at that point and it startled him. He stopped swinging the hatchet and, moved to the side of the trail but made no threatening move toward me. He was neatly dressed and didn't look deranged so I passed giving him as much space as possible. I watched in my mirror as he moved back to the trail center and resumed swinging his ax! It was one of the most bizarre experiences I've had on the trail so far!

In retrospect, I wonder if I made the right choice. What would you have done?

I guess that you really had to be there. Odd behavior that includes something that could be easily used as a weapon in reason for concern. You really never know if someone is the axe-murderer type. It sounds like you did what you felt was appropriate.

How many times have we heard, “he was a nice quiet guy, kept to himself, paid his bills on time…”. Things that seem out of place or wrong are red flags. You shouldn’t ignore an instinct.
 

chunk

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
I think it's odd behavior, hardly something you'd carry on a hike. A properly holstered pistol would worry me less than a dude aimlessly swinging an ax around. A definitely "had to be there" judgment call.
 

Solarcabin

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
I think it's odd behavior, hardly something you'd carry on a hike. A properly holstered pistol would worry me less than a dude aimlessly swinging an ax around. A definitely "had to be there" judgment call.
I thought that at first too but then I recall some guys are trail clearers and take along an axe or machete to remove stumps and branches encroaching on the trail.
 

Solarcabin

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
Except for the aimlessly ax swinging thing. That's what the street crazies in Hollywood do. Judgment call. Glad you're okay though.
If someone was swinging an ax walking down a street I would definitely give them wide berth but then I am from the country and we have our own strange people here. Glad you are OK to!
 

DaveMatthews

Well-Known Member
I think you did the right thing.
There's only been a couple of times I've felt like I was riding in the wrong place at the wrong time.
I just keep enough momentum up to kick it up if needed.
You didn't have that opportunity though...
 

J.R.

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
The 62 mile long Pine Creek Trail is in a remote, rural part of the Appalachian Mountains in Pennsylvania. In the week there are few people on this trail. It may have been a camp hatchet, as hatchet was the first description above. I'm thinking this wasn't a 3 foot long logging ax.
 

Solarcabin

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
What scares me are people carrying loaded weapons. Legal or not, it makes me very uncomfortable. My fear of death comes from an errant bullet. It could even come from a biker on a trail shooting at a bear, misses and hits me.

I realize I am way off base with gun lovers, but that’s me.

I fear less a hiker with an axe or machete. The guy with the gun will always win the argument.
I would bet you would be damn happy someone had a gun if a bear or cougar was tracking you on a trail.

I am not a gun lover and carry for protection and POST certified. No offense taken though and I agree most civilians should not be armed.

I am an animal lover as well and would not harm those critters unless there was no other choice. Loud noises scare off most critters.
 
Last edited:

Jason Knight

Active Member
Region
USA
City
Keene, NH
Uhm folks... it's called "Chopfit" and it's a long-time standard exercise. A good four or five pound axe has its weight multiplied by the swinging motion, resulting in a good upper body workout to go with the lower body one gets walking/jogging.

One company even makes them that just look like an axe, but are not.

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Not an unusual thing at all. I know a few pro weightlifters who do this all the time.


 

Solarcabin

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
Uhm folks... it's called "Chopfit" and it's a long-time standard exercise. A good four or five pound axe has its weight multiplied by the swinging motion, resulting in a good upper body workout to go with the lower body one gets walking/jogging.

One company even makes them that just look like an axe, but are not.


Not an unusual thing at all. I know a few pro weightlifters who do this all the time.
Like I said, maybe doing Ninja training!
 

Avg_Joe

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
RDU, NC
In the thousands of trail miles I've logged, I thought I'd seen it all. I was riding a rural and fairly remote section of the Pine Creek Trail this morning and came up behind this middle aged guy. He was walking down the center of the trail, idly swinging a double edged hatchet! I stopped about 100 feet behind him to decide what to do.

There was no-one else around and we were several miles from houses or a trailhead. I was in an area where I rarely encounter a walker let alone one wielding a weapon! Do I turn around and try to detour around him? Should I follow at a safe distance to see what he does? Should I call the police? There was no cell service at that spot so this wasn't an option. Besides, he hadn't actually threatened me so no crime had been committed.

There was no easy detour around so after thinking about it, I decided I was just being paranoid. I moved closer and rang my bell. He hadn't seen me at that point and it startled him. He stopped swinging the hatchet and, moved to the side of the trail but made no threatening move toward me. He was neatly dressed and didn't look deranged so I passed giving him as much space as possible. I watched in my mirror as he moved back to the trail center and resumed swinging his ax! It was one of the most bizarre experiences I've had on the trail so far!

In retrospect, I wonder if I made the right choice. What would you have done?
I firmly believe you did the right thing.

If, upon ringing your bell and/or announcing yourself, he moved toward you - well, you were riding an ebike and could likely outrun him. But in this case, there seems to have been no threat, so trail etiquette and being friendly was likely appreciated by him as well.

And who knows why he was doing this? Plenty to speculate about, but that he was accomodating and moved aside reaffirms my belief - you did the right thing, rather than escalate or cause conflict. He was doing his thing, you were doing yours, everything's cool.