I was going after a cache in a "greenbelt" area (don't know if that parlance is common - it is 'round these parts) that abuts to a modern-day monstrosity of concrete known as a strip mall complete with one or more big box stores. Around the back of said place, along the alleyway, there was, in addition to the requisite concrete lined ditches and culverts to handle all the water that is now diverted when it rains, the wall of "green" of untamed nature to face the silent, windowless wall of cinderblock and modernity. And along that wall was a distinct trail. I was happy to find that because I knew that was the intended trailhead the cache owner expected me to use. I even saw a lone butterfly flitting around near the trailhead which often moves me. This is a little-used trail that is an offshoot of a much more frequented trail that I would probably avoid altogether if I had to enter it via the "popular" way. Just WAY too many people vying for parking spaces and so artificial feeling it spoils the venture before I even set out. I do encounter a little evidence of nefarious human activity like shopping carts and even one of those really heavy, flat carts you find in a big box hardware store. That is near the beginning but as I go on the trail is rather pleasant and unpolluted. It meets up with the main trail but I don't have to travel it far to get to GZ....
I know when I used a GPSr unit ages ago I could actually backtrack along the same path. I rarely used that feature, but it was there. And I haven't often needed such a feature with the way I cache when using my phone and the app. It would have come in handy this time, though. As I was heading back I was presented with options I don't recall the reverse-answer to. I have a general bearing. I have literally no fear at all of being "lost" because I know I can dump out of the woods to the reverse-frontier of the strip mall eventually (plus there is a highway which I am within earshot of - these things I make a note of along with the position of the sun for backup.) Anyway, to not make a story longer than it already is (and longer than I already set out) I choose the wrong path to get back to the trail but soon I see the back of the buildings and see where I can get back to my car with a little bushwhacking.
I distinctly remember, as I'm walking in the shade provided by the buildings and along the alleyway to eventually lead back to my car (also tired, hot and a little hungry because I hadn't eaten all day) having a feeling "well, I'm "safe" now - back in civilization." Only half-serious of course, it isn't like I was in some uncharted territory. Just knew that I could get to my car, get a few good gulps of water and find some place to eat. No sooner did that thought cross my mind did I hear someone calling me from behind.
"Excuse me! Sir!" Oh, hell, what is this? Before even turning around I surmised what it might be but I just didn't want to accept it. I HAD seen what looked like tents up ahead *just* before cutting out to the alleyway area. It had weighed in my decision to stop my progress in that direction and cut out but more it had to do with the knowledge I was already far west of the marked trailhead and I could see civilization through the brush. This person, this woman, is nearly 100 yards behind me. I think she and others must have had a delayed response to my unexpected brush with their encampment. She continues "What do you want? Do you want something?" Or something to that effect. What have I gotten myself in to? I only pause to turn around and give what I believe to be a universal gesture of "I don't want any part of whatever you are offering" and keep on walking. But she continues to advance. She is actually remarkably well-dressed. In a fairly nice DRESS of all things. But she doesn't seem to want to just take my obvious rebuff and continues with all sorts of questions why I would approach them and then leave.....why I would (in her perception) suddenly leave, etc... I begin to wonder if they (she makes reference to others but I see only her) were doing drugs or whatever and are paranoid I saw them and will report them or something. I explain that I was hiking and got out at the wrong spot, which is totally true. She still seems almost skeptical. There is a part of me thinking "what difference does it make to you - I told you what happened." She kinda switches her message to how I shouldn't feel I need to abandon the trail just because I saw them. How "they" (park services?) had cleaned up the trail and improved it. Then she is apologetic saying that "things happen in life" to explain why they are living like they are. I try to say some kind words but despite her closing the distance to about 100 feet I think it is wise to keep my distance.
She turns back to go back to her world and I go back to mine, I guess. I have turned over the idea of getting a cooler full of stuff that might be useful to people living like that. My natural inertia is to not, though. Most probably won't even read much after seeing a wall of text (I set out making a much briefer account but I just got carried away.) Maybe no one will respond which is ok. Just kinda felt I need to get it off my chest.