D is 19 years old, she’s a college student. She moved to California for high school, and has a large history with camping and hiking. She shared this trail game riddle she learned at summer camp in North Carolina when she was 11 or 12, though she’s also heard it multiple times while hiking.
“You could call them detective riddles, but they’re all in the same genre of: someone presents a scenario and then the one who’s trying to figure it out is asking questions about the scenario until they get more and more details and they figure out the answer to the scenario. This one is known as the scuba diver riddle. The scenario is “a man is found in the middle of a burned down forest head to toe in scuba gear. There’s no trace of anyone else around him, no trace of how he got there, what happened?” From there people ask questions like “Is he wet? Yes or no. Is he alive?” Sometimes it takes 20 minutes, I’ve seen up to three days, it’s a great thing to play when you’re in the backcountry and really bored. The eventual answer is that the man is someone who was scuba diving, there was a forest fire miles and miles away from sea, and helicopter crews trying to stop the wild fire were collecting water in huge nets to carry over to the forest from the ocean. They picked up this scuba diver, dropped him on the forest fire, he died on impact.”
This was a new brand of riddle that I hadn’t heard because it seems to be specific to those who go hiking or are out in nature for a long time. It seems like an excellent way to pass a lot of time. It’s really interesting how groups that spend a lot of time doing something repetitive like walking up a trail or camping will get creative to engage their minds over that long period of time. I wonder how far back games like these go. I imagine games like this have existed for a long time, because before cars people often had to walk very far to get to their destination if they were traveling somewhere new, like soldiers marching or people going on the Oregon Trial. I imagine humans have been creating these games for a long time, and they’ve morphed to suit modern audiences, as this riddle is terminus post quem helicopters and scuba gear existing. The informant also said that this riddle was used by adults to frustrate and keep kids busy, because kids like to ask a lot of questions. It seems like a good way to quench kid’s curiosity, because kids are endlessly curious.