I know this won't be too long a story for folks likely to appreciate this thread.
I never did solo overnight trips into the mountains, since I was always with climbing partners, until after my divorce in 1985. During some solo daytrips after the divorce, I experienced my first-remembered “chills up my back” episode. I would be in a remote area having a great time, & suddenly I would have a profound chill up the middle of my spine. As I walked onwards, I would start feeling that something nearby was threatening me, & I would start pausing, & apprehensively looking around for an unseen threat. Usually, after a few minutes of this, I would have the sensation go away, as I departed the area causing my chill.
This also happened to me during a solo trip to a remote area in Northern Nevada searching for fossils & arrowheads. Happily, it never happened to me while in an overnight camp. I discovered I was not the only one affected by this phenomenon, when I took the woman who would soon marry me back to the spot in Nevada where I had suffered a severe chill up my back.
The spot was part of an abandoned ranch just south of a large lake on the east side of the Ruby Range. After parking, I had previously discovered the whole area was covered with lithic flakes, aka arrowhead chips. The obvious place to surface hunt for arrowheads went down towards an eroding 100’ tall granite outcrop & around it. I had suffered major chills & nervousness, while walking the area around the outcrop. When Heidi & I got there, I contrived an excuse to have her start on that walk, while I fiddled with my SUV. Being a strong woman, comfortable with herself & the outdoors, she happily wandered off towards the outcrop. We met up on the other side of the outcrop about a ½ hour later. Over dinner, I brought the subject of chills up & she immediately confessed she had been gripped with chills & real fear of unknown watchers, but she had carried on. So! Two people could experience the same chills, at the same place, at different times.
After we married, I had a couple other episode of chills, the most severe while looking for ancient Native American rock art in Nine Mile Canyon Utah. I also experienced profound chills up my back, but no real fear, during two late fall visits to the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, aka Custer Battlefield. My first visit was during a business trip from Sheridan WY to Billings MT, & I stopped by on a cool & cloudy day to finally visit a spot I had read about most of my life. My first stop was at the visitor center & when I walked in, the building was noisy with the sounds of deep heart-felt sobbing. As I hesitantly approached the front desk, I realized the Native American woman there was noisily crying her heart out. I felt bad for her, but there was nothing I could do & I soon left for the self-guided battlefield auto tour.
After getting to the hill where Custer & his command all died, I walked around the deserted site. I immediately had chills up my back & they stayed with me until I got back in my SUV & left. A few years later, on a similar cool & cloudy Fall afternoon, I walked much of the south end of the National Monument, where Major Reno’s men survived several days of being surrounded & besieged by the Sioux & Cheyenne after half of his command had barely made it our of a hard-fought battle down on the Little Bighorn. After being alone for a while, with no chills, I noted a Native American in traditional costume several hundred yards away. He was chanting & making profound gestures towards the sky & earth & my chills started up.
A few years later, I hiked into deepest Idaho & was fly fishing a remote small river. A rough & mostly destroyed trail led though brush & rattlesnake country in there, & of course I knew I would not encounter other humans on my adventure. As part of my cultural heritage I was carrying my old 22 caliber Smith & Wesson revolver in a belt holster.
Shortly after my turn-around point, I was happily hiking down the trail after a great day of catch & release trout fishing, & suddenly the chills up my spine hit me hard. Each step forward raised my apprehension, which soon turned into fear of an unknown, but very real threat. I kept turning around & looking behind me, & I eased the pistol our of its holster, since I was now almost frightened. Then I saw a dead log across the trail that had recently been turned over, with agitated ants pouring out of it, then an indistinct but large paw print, then a very fresh pile of what was obviously bear scat. I relaxed, since it all suddenly made sense. I had spooked a black bear off the trail & it was likely up in the trees fearfully watching me, a dangerous & dreaded human. My subliminal senses had smelled, heard, or otherwise “sensed” the bear.
A 2005 photo of my buddy Jerry & the “small” river near where I was “spooked” by the bear, a few years earlier.
After that experience, I could easily rationalize that a lot of my “Chill up my back” experiences could have been caused by nearby wild animals, but of course the battlefield chills were not as readily explained.
During our recent visit to four significant Civil War Battlefields in & near Fredericksburg VA, I was expecting the "chill up my back" & a feeling of being watched, that I experienced on my two visits to Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument. I also experienced a similar feeling at the Civil War battlefield of Shiloh back in the last century. I didn't have the sensation this trip ------- until Heidi & I took a hike down to where the bloodiest & most desperate fighting of the battle of Spotsylvania Court House took place in May 1864. We were all by ourselves on a pleasant October afternoon. There were 32,000 soldiers killed or injured in that battle & even though I am not a strong believer in ghosts, I got a good dose of chills up my back there & Heidi didn’t. It's significant fun, when it's not scary, which it wasn't on that nice day.
Heidi on the quiet path down to the Bloody Angle, with the Confederate trenches at the left of photo. This is where I got the chills.
This informational poster was just beyond where I got the "battlefield chills."
Does anyone else have personal experiences with chills up their back?