"My former college roommate/ current best friend and I are avid hikers and like to do the more difficult hikes in the greater Tri-State Area (NJ, NY, PA for those not in the know). We were doing our second trip up Mt. Tammany, which is a rather steep and strenuous hike up a mountain with a great view of the Delaware River right on the NJ/PA border. After the difficult climb to the top, it's a slow and steady walk back down to the trailhead that passes by this lovely creek. We were around a mile away from getting back to the car and a few hundred feet away from the nearest hiker, and we heard a loud CRACK out in front of us, it sounded just like a weapon... This was the week of one of several large mass- shootings in the US that year, so we exchanged a nervous laugh and kept walking forward.
We go another 30 yards or so before we heard it again, this time a rapid-fire CRACK! CRACK! CRACK! And I felt pieces of wood hit my face. I froze in fear at that moment thinking some crazy person brought an AR-15 to this fairly well-traveled hiking trail and is going all nuts on us... Then my friend points to my left to this giant pine tree...
It had rained a ton that spring/summer, and the outcrop that the tree had decided to make its home had eroded away too much to support the weight of the tree, so the tree had started to lean, then buckle under its own weight right down the middle. We stood there watching as large cracks formed at the base of the tree, a crowd had started to form watching it all go down with us. Eventually, gravity won the day and the crowd of ~20 hikers and we watched as this 100ft tree crashed down into and over the creek to our left.
Luckily no one was hurt since it fell away from the trail, but before I knew that it was a tree succumbing to gravity, I for certain thought we were going to be the victims of a woodland mass-shooting."