An Unexplained Background Object Made One Photograph Go Viral

The internet has, in a sense, made the world a much smaller place than it was before, as it’s incredibly easy to share memories with people all over the world in the form of photographs and videos on social media. In some cases, these are shared by other people, who share it with other people, and it ends up being seen by thousands – sometimes even millions – of people globally. This is what the phrase ‘going viral’ refers to.

A photo of Kim on Dundas Peaks
Source: Reddit

That’s exactly what happened when one woman posted photos of herself with her friend during their vacation in Canada. At first glance, the images seemed ordinary enough – just showing a couple of friends posing in front of a beautiful valley at the top of a scenic hiking trail. However, when she looked closer, the woman realized that something was hidden in the background – something that would capture the interest of social media users worldwide.

The Picturesque Dundas Peak

Kim, the woman at the center of this story, and her friend decided to visit the beautiful Dundas Peak, a hiking spot in Hamilton, Canada, that is popular with locals and tourists alike. Situated in the greater region of Ontario, it overlooks picturesque scenery full of colorful trees and hillsides.

A photograph of a girl sitting at Dundas Peak
Source: Reddit

Dundas Peak boasts not only multiple hiking trails but also ideal places to take social media-ready photographs, many of which can be found on rocks jutting out into the breathtaking wilderness. Tew’s Falls waterfall – the tallest in this region – can be found within the national park, which is also responsible for drawing in visitors throughout the year.

A Break from a Busy Life

Dundas Peak was, therefore, the perfect place for a short getaway, which was exactly what Kim needed. She felt she needed a break from her everyday life as a busy mother to go and do something adventurous and be at one with nature for a day or two. She wanted to clear her mind and forget about her responsibilities.

The iconic photo spot
Source: Facebook / Dundas Peak

Kim broached the subject with her friend, who seemed equally keen – she had seen photographs of her cousin sitting on the famous rocks and wanted to recreate that for herself while exploring the area and taking in the natural beauty of the national park. Kim couldn’t agree more.

Setting Off to Reach the Peak

When they arrived at the park, Kim and her friend knew they wanted to reach the peak as soon as they possibly could. However, it wouldn’t be easy since it was a 2.4-mile hike that was entirely uphill. Although the women knew that they would be able to make it without any problems, it wasn’t going to be a casual stroll.

People crowded around Dundas Peak
Source: Facebook / Dundas Peak

They set off along the trail, chatting as they went along and taking in the scenery around them as they climbed higher. Although they stopped a couple of times to catch their breath and have a look around, it didn’t take too long for them to reach the peak – and it was immediately apparent that other people had had the same idea as them.

Taking in the Scenery

There were quite a few other people at the peak – nearly all of which were taking photographs of the stunning view that was before them. Kim and her friend knew they’d have to wait their turn to get the perfect snap, but they didn’t mind – after all, they wanted to take in the scenery with their own eyes first.

A girl on the ledge at Dundas Peak
Source: Facebook / Dundas Peak

Before long, it was their turn, and they decided to take pictures of one another – one would be the photographer while the other would be the model. Both of the women had a very specific image in mind and knew exactly how they wanted to pose for the photos.

Capturing the Perfect Photograph

On the hike to the peak, Kim’s friend had suggested that they try to recreate her cousin’s photo that had initially inspired them to go to the national park. It was quite daring, as he had posed right on the edge of the peak while his friend took a snap from the side.

People taking photographs at Dundas Peak
Photo by NelzTabcharani316 / Shutterstock

Unlike the popular pose where the model is looking straight ahead with the camera pointing at her back, the angle that Kim and her friend were going for would show their faces. They figured that if they were lucky, they might find someone who would take a picture for them, so they could have one together.

A Glimmer from Below

Kim’s friend was first up, so she went to sit on the rock in exactly the same way that her cousin had. Of course, she had to be extremely careful – after all, it was a long way down if she was to fall! She didn’t have much problem wriggling her way to the edge of the rock, however.

Dundas Peak
Photo by NelzTabcharani316 / Shutterstock

As she adjusted her position to find a comfortable pose, something just below caught her eye – a slight glimmer below. She peered closer to try to see what it was and realized that the mysterious item was dangling from a nearby branch. She was curious and reached down to grab it.

Risking Death to Help

The branch was only three feet below, but Kim’s friend needed to keep her wits about her – after all, when you’re hanging over a cliff, the price of making a mistake is much higher. She realized that the mysterious glimmering item was a bunch of keys that were catching the sunlight and called Kim to join her.

A set of car keys on a wooden table
Photo by sirikorn thamniyom / Shutterstock

Knowing that someone was more than likely frantically looking for these lost keys, the women felt that they had to try their best to retrieve them. They decided that Kim would reach down to grab them while her friend held onto her and kept her stable and safe.

The Mission Is Completed

They were successful and soon had the keys in their possession. Thinking that they’d completed their mission, they continued with their photoshoot. When both women had got individual photos that they were happy with, they set about trying to find someone to take their picture together.

Mountains in fog with the city lit up at dusk
Photo by Denis Belitsky / Shutterstock

Sure enough, they were able to find a willing volunteer before they decided to make their way back to the car. Dusk was approaching, and they didn’t want to be caught out in the dark – after all, they were in Canada, which is home to animals such as bears. They just hoped that they’d find the person that the missing keys belonged to in the parking lot.

Searching for the Owner

The two women made it back to the parking lot just as the sun was disappearing behind the trees. As most of the park’s visitors had left by now, the parking lot was almost empty – meaning it was easy to work out which vehicle the missing keys belonged to.

A girl sitting on Dundas Peak with snow starting to fall
Source: Facebook / Dundas Peak

However, there was just one small problem – although the car was still there, the owner was nowhere to be seen. Kim and her friend waited a while, but as the sky got darker, the cold began to set in, so they decided to leave the keys on top of the car on the driver’s side.

News of a Missing Woman

The women got in the car and began the drive home – soon enough, all thoughts of the keys and the empty car were at the back of their mind. A week later, however, Kim saw the car appear on the news and were shocked to hear that, apparently, its owner – a woman – had gone missing from Dundas Peak sometime before their visit.

Someone had gone missing in the huge national park
Source: Unsplash

She quickly called her friend and filled her in – both women found it a little odd that they’d found the lost keys of someone that had gone missing, but agreed that it was just a strange coincidence. Although the authorities knew the person was missing, they had no idea what had actually happened to her – and they had no leads.

Getting on with Their Lives

It was sad to hear about, but what could the women realistically do? They hoped that the person would be found safe and healthy, but again, before long, thoughts of the mysterious keys, car, and missing driver faded from their minds as they got on with their day-to-day lives.

A woman sitting on her laptop
Source: SHutterstock

A month later, however, when Kim was browsing through her social media, she saw that the photograph of her friend’s cousin on the rock had gone viral after it had been posted on Reddit. Kim was confused as to why – it was a good photograph, but she couldn’t understand why it was quite so popular with people online.

Something Had Stood Out

As it turns out, another Reddit user had noticed something in the photograph that sparked a huge amount of interest. The photograph was shared multiple times, and pretty soon, it had gone viral – with everyone trying to figure out what exactly could be seen in the background.

Infamous photograph that went viral
Source: Reddit

At first glance, the image of Kim’s friend’s cousin at Dundas Peak seemed perfectly normal. He stands out as the subject, as he’s dressed in all-black attire, and the trees are quite thin and barren. However, looking closer, Kim was able to see what the fuss was about – and it made the hairs on the back of her neck stand up.

Taking a Close Look

Kim’s friend arrived so they could take a good look together, and they zoomed into the photo as far as they could without lowering the quality so much that they couldn’t make anything out. It wasn’t hard to see why it had gone viral – although it didn’t really give them any answers.

Infamous photograph that went viral – Close up
Source: Reddit

In the middle of the image appeared to be a lone figure standing on the cliffside dressed in a white top and dark bottoms. Kim and her friend were sure there was no way to safely access that area, so it seemed incredibly strange that anyone would be there – especially alone.

A Comparison of Photographs

The first thing that the two women thought to do was to look back at their own photographs from Dundas Peak. If it was a trick of the light or something on the rock, they assumed that it would probably show up in their pictures as well – so they felt that it would be well worth a look.

One of the girls sitting with her dog
Source: Facebook / Dundas Peak

Funnily enough, the mysterious figure was not in any of their photographs, even though both women had posed in the exact same spot and in the same position – plus, the photographs had even been taken from the very same angle. That led them to question whether it really was a person in the cousin’s photograph – and, if so, who it was.

Pondering All of the Possibilities

Although both Kim and her friend tried to remain rational about what they were seeing, they couldn’t help but feel a little uneasy about it. After all, the authorities discovered a woman had gone missing from the park – and they’d actually found her keys during their visit.

Three girls posing on Dundas Peak
Source: Facebook / Dundas Peak

As the women began to think about the series of events and try to unravel the mystery, they began to wonder if the figure in the photographs could be the woman who had gone missing. They didn’t want to get ahead of themselves, but the timing made it seem like it could be a possibility.

Taking to Social Media

After Kim and her friend had discussed it at great length, they realized that it was unlikely that they could figure out the entire mystery by themselves, just using a few of their own photographs. So, as so many people do these days, they decided to take to social media for some assistance.

A girl on Instagram on her cell phone
Photo by Ko Aun Lee / Shutterstock

Kim created a post that explained the entire story, starting at the very beginning with the original idea of recreating her friend’s cousin’s photo. She then described what appeared to be in the photograph, stating that she was certain that there was no way to access that part of the cliff and asking for help to work out what – or who – it was.

Looking for More Photos

Specifically, Kim asked for more photographs of the same area – she had surmised that even between her, her friend, and her friend’s cousin, they still didn’t have a huge amount of material to go on. After all, they had to remember that it was still possible that it wasn’t a person in the photograph.

Photograph of people sitting on the ledge at Dundas Peak
Source: Facebook / Dundas Peak

That’s why Kim was extremely interested in looking at more photos to see if she could spot something similar. As a result, she decided to add a request for her followers’ photographs to the end of her social media post. Hoping for the best, she waited for any responses.

Analyzing All the Different Viewpoints

It wasn’t long before people on social media started to contribute their theories about what the figure could be. Some speculated that it was the ghost of one of the hikers that had gone missing in the past, or of the specific woman that had been featured on the news.

A photograph of the waterfall
Source: Unsplash

Others, in stark contrast, believed it had to have been a trick of the light or a problem with the camera. However, some people claimed that there is a trail in Dundas Peak that leads to the area the figure can be seen in, so it could have easily just been another hiker.

An End to the Mystery?

Kim’s quest for the truth came to a sudden end when one Reddit user responded, claiming that it was she who was captured in the photo. Stating that the claims of another trail were true, they said that they had been at Dundas Peak the same day that the photo was taken, as well as in the same area.

A view of the roads in between fields
Source: Unsplash / Mohamed Moiz Ahmed

Furthermore, they remembered wearing a light, grey sweater and dark jeans – clothing that the person appears to be wearing in the picture. Although it seemed that all of the hype had been exaggerated, it’s possible that the person was either mistaken or lying.

Next, two unlucky travelers ran into trouble in Bali, but their lives were saved thanks to the extraordinary power of social media.

A Thrift Store Find

Priscilla Bailey, a woman from Plymouth, Massachusetts, was just having a regular day, enjoying looking around the local thrift stores as she often did in her spare time. She loved doing so and was particularly good at finding unique, beautiful items for a mere fraction of what they would cost if they were brand new in a normal retail store.

Priscilla Bailey, the finder of the mysterious ornament
Source: YouTube / CBS News

When she popped on this particular day after running some errands, Priscilla certainly didn’t think she’d find anything out of the ordinary. Although she spotted a couple of things that she liked the look of, it was one specific ornament that caught her eye.

Feeling an Immediate Pull

The ornament was just sitting on one of the shelves in the thrift store alongside other blown-glass items that were also up for sale. Priscilla was particularly fond of glass ornaments, and this specific one was in her favorite color— blue. She was immediately drawn to it and wanted to have a closer look.

Priscilla loved to shop in thrift stores
Source: YouTube / CBS News

She picked it up and was slightly shocked at how heavy it was – it was a lot less delicate and fragile than she had been expecting. She turned it over to see the price tag, and to her surprise and delight, Priscilla noticed that the ornament was being sold for an extremely low price – just two dollars.

Trying to Find the Catch

Thrift stores are known to sell second-hand goods for very low prices, but $2 for a blown glass ornament seemed a little extreme to Priscilla. She reasoned that there had to be a catch and inspected it closely to see if there was anything wrong with it. However, as far as she could tell, it seemed perfectly fine.

This was the thrift store that Priscilla found the ornament in
Source: YouTube / CBS News

She thought that was a fantastic deal for something so pretty and decided to buy it straight away without giving it another thought. While she was happy with her purchase, she didn’t think about the extremely low price and possible catch as she made her way back home.

Noticing the Ornament Is Slightly Unusual

Although Priscilla was an experienced thrift store shopper, she failed to realize initially that she had, by pure chance, stumbled across something really special. However, when she got home and studied the ornament in more detail, she noticed something slightly unusual. Unwrapping it carefully, she noticed some design work that she hadn’t seen earlier.

The detailed design on the ornament
Source: YouTube / CBS News

Looking closer at the metalwork, Priscilla pondered whether the design was of angels or something else that she didn’t recognize. She wondered who had designed it, where it had been made, and whether there was an interesting story behind it, as there so often is with thrift store items.

One Thing That Stood Out

There was one thing in particular that stood out when Priscilla first inspected her new ornament at home – it struck her that it was even heavier than she’d first realized when she’d looked at it in the thrift store. She’d held and purchased a fair number of blown-glass ornaments in her time, but this one had to be the heaviest of them all.

The ornament had a beautiful design
Source: YouTube / CBS News

However, Priscilla wasn’t able to tell why and reasoned that perhaps the type of glass used was heavier than normal – or perhaps there were just multiple layers that couldn’t be seen. The more pressing issue, in Priscilla’s opinion, was finding the perfect spot for it in her house, so she put its weight to the back of her mind.

Getting a Second Opinion

Priscilla’s daughter, Kat, was also a huge fan of blown-glass ornaments – in fact, her ambition was to open her own blown-glass store in Massachusetts. Therefore, when she went to visit her mother, she was excited to be shown the ornament from the thrift store. Priscilla wanted her daughter’s opinion on what she thought was a fantastic purchase.

Kat, who also loves blown-glass ornaments, helped her mother figure out what was inside
Source: YouTube / CBS News

Priscilla didn’t mention the weight of the ornament when she handed it over, but it wasn’t too long before Kat noticed it for herself. She admitted that she thought it was a little odd – after all, she’d never felt such a heavy blown-glass ornament before.

Trying to Uncover the Truth

Kat gave the ornament a gentle shake to see whether it would be obvious that there was something contained inside, but it didn’t reveal much at all – and she didn’t want to be too rough with it and accidentally damage it in any way.

They tried to work out what was inside the ornament without damaging it
Source: YouTube / CBS News

She brought her face right up close to the ornament to see if she could peer through the first layer of glass, but she couldn’t see anything of interest. Priscilla and Kat had almost given up hope, but then Kat had a fantastic idea. She decided to go and get a flashlight, in the hope that it would allow her to see what was inside the ornament.

Revealing the Hidden Compartments

Priscilla thought that Kat’s idea of using a flashlight to look inside of the ornament was excellent. When they first shone the flashlight through the glass, they didn’t notice anything unusual – but suddenly, they saw that something was moving around inside the ornament. They couldn’t quite work out what it was at first, though.

It was much easier to see inside using a flashlight
Source: YouTube / CBS News

Using the flashlight, Priscilla and Kat could faintly see that there were, in fact, two secret compartments hidden within the ornament. The thing that was moving – whatever it was – was in the smaller compartment of the two. Both Priscilla and Kat were overcome with curiosity and desperately wanted to know what was inside.

Reaching Out For Help

Pricilla and Kat weren’t sure that they could get to the contents without breaking the ornament – plus, they were slightly worried as to what they’d find in there and whether it would be dangerous or illegal. As a result, they decided to notify the local authorities in case they wanted to inspect it themselves.

Pricilla being interviewed
Source: YouTube / CBS News

Priscilla also called the Boston Globe and invited news reporters over to her house to see what they thought about the mysterious two-dollar thrift store ornament. Considering Priscilla didn’t even yet know what was inside the ornament, it was a bold move, but she had a feeling it was going to be interesting.

An Ornament That’s Anything But Ordinary

The news reporters from the Boston Globe arrived at Priscilla’s house first, where she excitedly told them how the ornament came to be in her position. Pointing to where it was proudly displayed, Priscilla told the reporters, “Right now, it’s hanging up there when I do my dishes. I sometimes stare at it.”

Priscilla couldn't get the mystery ornament out of her mind
Source: YouTube / CBS News

Although they had no idea what to expect, the news reporters were just as intrigued as Priscilla when she handed over the ornament for them to inspect themselves. They, too, peered inside but couldn’t quite make out what the contents were – but they clearly also thought that it’d be something good, as they were happy to stick around.

Speculation Began to Mount

While the news reporters talked with Priscilla and Kat and got all the details that they needed to write their story, all members of the group allowed themselves to speculate about what they thought it could be. There were a lot of theories thrown around, with the news reporters suggesting that it could be drugs. Someone even wondered whether it could be some kind of poison.

Source: YouTube / CBS News

As they had before, Priscilla held up the ornament while Kat shined a light on it, revealing a slightly better look at the contents inside. Kat explained to the news reporters what she had initially thought that it could be: “I said to her, ‘it looks like its ashes, Mom.'”

From Ashes to Ashes

However, if they were someone’s ashes, whose were they, why were they put into a blown-glass ornament, and how did the said ornament end up in a thrift store? Priscilla and Kat mused that if the ornament did contain ashes inside, it would make sense why it was so carefully made with stunning detail.

Priscilla holding the ornament
Source: YouTube / CBS News

One thing occurred to them – they had both been turning the ornament and shaking it while trying to work out exactly what was inside. If they were, in fact, ashes, had the two women been extremely disrespectful? This could, after all, be the remains of someone’s beloved relative or friend.

Setting an End Goal

Priscilla decided that she would do everything in her power in order to find the ornament’s rightful owner – no matter what was inside. If the contents did turn out to be someone’s ashes, she had the idea the news reporters could use the media to help her find the relatives who mistakenly gave the item away to the thrift store. If not, she had to find another way.

Priscilla holding the ornament in her kitchen
Source: YouTube / CBS News

She told the reporters, “It’s beautiful. It must have a story. So that’s my goal: to find out where and who this belongs to.” Unfortunately, however, she didn’t feel like she was any

closer to finding any answers.

Spreading the Story Far and Wide

After the news reporters left her home, Priscilla and Kat decided that they should hold onto the glass ornament until they figured out who to return it to. They hoped that the news story would pick up steam – maybe even go viral – and someone would know who to return it to.

The blue and silver ornament sitting on a white tile
Source: YouTube / CBS News

This also gave both the women another fantastic idea: share the story on Facebook and see if they could reach anyone who might know something that way. They reasoned that they didn’t need to wait for the news reporters to act – and more people seem to read things on social media than in news publications these days.

Sharing a Heartbreaking Story

Along with a close-up photo of the blue glass ornament, Kat shared the story of how she and Priscilla ended up with it in their possession. She wrote: “It breaks my heart that this was tossed away and just sitting on a shelf at Savers for $2.”

The ornament sitting on a tile countertop
Source: YouTube / CBS News

She asked for anyone who might know anything about it to get into contact with her so that she could safely return it to its rightful owner. After posting the message, Priscilla and Kat had nothing to do but wait for a response. Luckily for them, they didn’t need to wait for long.

A Surprising Second Discovery

A local woman named Connie Whiteman Slate commented on Kat’s post, writing: “Please let me know what you find out as I have one also. Found mine at a thrift shop too! It’s heavy in weight.” This came as a complete surprise to both Priscilla and Kat – especially as Priscilla had also contacted the store she purchased it from, Savers, and let them know of her find.

Connie Whiteman Slatt holding a goodwill bag
Source: YouTube / CBS News

The store’s manager didn’t have any particularly useful information, but he had said that the majority of their donations were from residents in the area, so there was a good chance whoever donated the ornament lived around Plymouth.

Straight from Mt. Saint Helen?

The conversation on the Facebook post continued, as someone else commented that she had one too. Then, another woman claimed that she had found a similar ornament at another thrift store, but this time, in the Pacific Northwest. She wrote: “Mine was iridescent and heart-shaped like this one, but much less ornamental and more suncatcher-like.”

Another heart-shaped ornament in yellow with silver
Source: Facebook / Connie Whiteman Slatt

Then, she included some information about the contents of the ornament that neither Priscilla nor Kat had heard before. She said, “It was made from the ash of Mt. Saint Helen.” The two women were stunned – they had been convinced that the ashes in the ornament were human!

Theories Started To Emerge

The woman continued: “This could also explain what appears to be ashes enclosed within… could be a possibility.” All this time, neither Priscilla nor Kat had even considered the possibility that the ashes originated from anything other than a person.

A red ornament with silver
Source: Facebook / Connie Whiteman Slatt

They’d assumed that the ornament had been a type of urn – but now the low price and the fact it ended up in a thrift store was starting to make more sense. To this day, they still don’t know for certain what the powdery substance contained in the ornament is, but with the Facebook post still circulating social media, there’s a good chance that the definite answer will be found soon.