If you spend enough time on trails, you will probably lose some gear at some point (see my post on trekking poles!) On the other hand, you might get lucky and find some “trail booty”. Common items found are things like sunglasses, gloves, hats and water bottles. Over the years, I have found some interesting things while out in the hills.
When we arrived at the trailhead for Mount Pugh, there was a note there from that same day from a hiker who had forgot his trekking poles at the pass, where he dropped them to scramble the summit block. He said they had sentimental value and offered a reward to have them returned. We kept our eyes peeled, knowing the likely area where he would have left the poles, and sure enough we found them on the way down. My friend had some extra knee support on the way down and we made a fellow hiker quite happy, which made my day.
Another time we were coming back down the trail after scrambling Hibox Peak, when I spotted a shiny new Iphone with an expensive case in the middle of the trail. There was no one at the trailhead or in the parking lot so I took it with me, afraid that someone would steal it if I left it there. Of course the screen was locked but the owner had one of those “find my Iphone” things set up. It causes the phone to alert with a message including number to call to return the phone. Fortunately I was able to reunite the phone with its owner, sparing him from what would have been a very expensive hike.
Of course sometimes you find things that you don’t even want to touch, much less return. On the trail to Mount Ellinor, we saw dirty women’s underwear in the middle of the trail. How does that happen?! We were not close to a camping area or privy and I could not think of any legitimate reason why that would be there. Gross! On a different trip my friend scored with finding an Outdoor Research sun hat in perfect condition. I’ve seen all kinds of clothing articles left behind, from bandannas to rain pants. I even found a nice quickdraw once in a rock climbing area.
Don’t forget to secure your stuff when you are out, and course pack out your trash please! What is the strangest thing that you have found in the backcountry?