I Had My Gear Stolen On A Thru-Hike

It’s when we’re at our worst that the generosity of others really means the most.

As I was finishing up my hike in Oregon, I decided to take a detour. You see, I had brought my car out to the west coast with me. The crew at Kennedy Meadows was nice enough to let me leave it there for the length of my hike, and when I got to Washington, I came back down to get it.

While I was driving back, I had the idea of going into Portland for a night. I left my car in a public parking area, and from what I could see, it seemed safe. But when I came back a few hours later, my rear left window was busted, and all my gear was gone. Everything I had hiked with for so long, gone just like that.

Earlier in the year, in a town in Northern California, Mount Shasta, my friend Little Spoon had gotten his gear stolen too. We were staying at a local campground someone till someone came and stole his pack late in the evening. It seemed to be happening to a lot of people last year.

But for both me and my friend Little Spoon, we ended up being helped out much more than we were hurt. Little Spoon got an entire new set of gear from trail angels and friends he had met along the way. I had put up a post on Facebook and also almost got an entire new set of gear sent to me. Our community is absolutely amazing and is full of truly giving and special people.

Even though we’re out here in groups, and safe for the most part, we still need to keep an eye out and use good judgement. For most of us we’re hiking, and traveling through unfamiliar areas, and some people out there still want to take advantage of us. Safety should always come first, but we should also remember how generous and helpful the hiker community can be.

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Comments 9

  • Omni : Dec 13th

    Got stolen after a thru hike not during… Straight clickbait bullshit as usual from the trek. Next it will be a straight white males fault.

    • Josh Widdowfield : Dec 13th

      Hey Omni, it happened while I was heading back up to Washington with my car. Wasn’t done hiking yet, I flipped it up to be closer to me at the end. I could’ve made that a bit more clear in the post though, sorry about the confusion

      • Craig : Dec 13th

        This is a fear of mine every time I leave my gear in my car for whatever reason. If possible I always stash it in my trunk or at least cover it with a blanket. Keeping it out of sight is a good policy. Nice article Josh Widowfield and don’t worry about Omni’s comment, as a “straight white male” myself it seems like that person is going through some stuff.

        • Josh Widdowfield : Dec 13th

          Thanks so much! Your comment is definitely appreciated. In the future I’ll definitely have a better plan in case something happens

  • marsh : Dec 13th

    Count your blessings. You were lucky to get out of Roach City without being shot.

  • Smitty : Dec 13th

    Getting robbed is frustrating thoughts of retribution,anger but move on my good man, I’d rather have stuff stolen 10 times than steal once. Feel sorry for that person.

    • CynBehr - Screamer : Dec 20th

      My son and I had our gear stolen in Marion, VA, at the partnership shelter. My son later named EnFuego had fallen coming down Mt. Rogers. We took a few days off bc doc at ER said he needed 2 weeks to recover from spraining his wrist, knee and both ankles. I started out slack packing for us, carrying water, etc, leaving our tent, pads, sleeping bags, cook set, etc set up back near the Ranger Station so we could just crawl in at the end of the day. Thought it would be safe back there. Wrong! I’m pretty sure a homeless fella has a very nice $300 almost brand new red Osprey pack. They even stole our clothes! We carried our poles, water purification, bladder, first aid, maps, rain gear, my head lamp & my pack. They were nice enough to leave our flip flops.
      It’s a whole Trail Magic story how God blessed us to get far away from Marion to Pearisburg. Don’t get me wrong, the folks in Marion are phenomenal, bus drivers, hot dog stand Doug’s Dawgs, police, sheriff, ranger Mr. Blue Eyes, motel owner, hospital staff all incredible. Thank you all! BUT homeless folk are increasingly preying upon and terrorizing hikers. We were even followed and subtly, suggestively threatened by a homeless fella leading up to the theft and he’s the very reason we weren’t at the shelter that night instead of going back for our gear. I am grateful my son & I got outta there with our lives and health. I can replace $1200 worth of gear, but my son is irreplaceable. Be on alert and stay away from a homeless guy posing as an AT hiker, carrying a nice, carved wooden staff, goes by trail name Denver. His actual name is Dennis. You’ll be able to identify him by his remaining 2 front teeth. We bless those who persecute us and spitefully abuse us. I pray he’s healed & set free of all addictions in Jesus name.

  • OutsideJay : Dec 29th

    Sorry to hear of your loss. Btw Trail Angels read The Trek too. 😉

  • Bart : Jan 27th

    When I was on the PCT there was a hiker from Ireland.
    He was hitching out of Chester when a guy with a pickup truck stopped to give him a ride. The hiker through his pack in the back of the pickup truck.
    So the truck dropped him off, and then drove off before the hiker could get his backpack out of the back! OMG, the stuff of nightmares.
    All his money, his passport, everything.

    Take home point…keep your pack within arms reach unless you have friends there with it.
    I swear, I have a dream at least once a month where I can’t find my backpack, and I’m looking all over for it…


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