Your mom was only trying to protect you and there are definitely enough news headlines to warrant that sense of worry. Here's another way to look at it - A stranger is just a friend who you haven't met yet.
Well, regardless of what my mom says, I've been meeting internet strangers in real life. Most of those times I've wandered deep into the woods with them too. It's not scary. Actually, it's been a ton of fun.
My latest time hiking with a stranger took place recently when Justin Fricke let me know he was going to be in the area for a work trip. He had the opportunity to come a day early to try and squeeze in a hike. This Floridian had his eyes on climbing his first 14'er. I jumped at the opportunity to take an adventure with the guy I'd been interacting with on #Trailtime Twitter Chats, liking his photos on Instagram and reading his #TeamSierra posts right here on the Social Hub.
Now, to be fair Justin isn't much of a stranger to me. I've known his online persona for over a year. We've emailed tons of times but still you never know what you're going to get into. But as a rule of thumb, anyone who spends this much time talking about the outdoors is going to be pretty cool.
We pulled up to the meet-up point at 5:45 am. In total darkness, I spotted a headlamp. I pulled up to it and a stranger hopped into the back seat of my car. He didn't appear to have a gun or knife but he did have a sense of adventure. So we were off to summit Mount Bierstadt.
Covering seven miles of hiking and over 2,850 feet of elevation gain we had time to discuss many things. We encouraged each other, pushed each other and laughed together. It was fun and a little challenging for our visitor from Florida.
In the end, we had climbed Mount Bierstadt (14,065'), had some fun and once again proved that there are good people in the world who just want to hike. So, consider meeting up with internet strangers for a hike. I'd suggest you start with anyone using #Trailtime on Twitter, Instagram or beyond.
Check out Justin's recap of this trip on his blog: The Weekend Warrior.