Category Archives: Appalachian Trail

Tracks By The Barn

I know that I ended my last post with no more bear stories.  Well, I just found bear tracks in the thin layer of dirt next to the big barn doors mentioned in the last post.  Sooooo, I have tell a story that should have been in the last post.  Forgot about it until this morning.  It’s hilarious.

I was hiking in the Appalachian Trail in the Smoky Mountains with a friend.  We ran into a group of six hikers taking a lunch break at a shelter.  The Guy (don’t remember his name) had to share what happened that morning.  The group was staying at the previous shelter about 15 miles away.  It was late April and the bears were beginning to awake from their long winter slumber.

The group wasn’t together per say, just been meeting up off and on.  They were all at the last shelter except the Guy.  He came in late and there was no more room in the shelter for him to squeeze into.  He pitched his tent in front and found a spot for his pack in the shelter where it would be safe from the bears.

All of the shelters in the Smoky’s have chain link fences across the front with a secre locking mechanism.  The Smoky Mountains are a busy place for tourists, creating tension between man’s food supply and demands of the bears.   A night in an open shelter makes for easy picking on the part of the bear.

The bear encounter for Guy took place in early morning.  Guy rose early to head “nature’s” call.  A bear came into the clearing heading for Guy’s tent.  I guess the lack of food in the tent ticked off the bear.  The amount of anger leads me to believe the bear was a female (being funny).  She shredded his tent and Guy ran for the port a potty and locked himself inside.  Well, being very disatisfied, the bear walked over to the port a potted grabbed and shook it.  Guy fell to the bottom and braced his feet against the door to protect himself.  One last shove left the port a potty on its side.  Guy didn’t mind a bit.  The bear ran off into the brush, most likely to find another victim just for spite.

Here are some photos of the bear tracks imprinted on a thin layer of dirt where work had been done for the driveway.   Click on image to view full size.

 

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“Chickadee, dee, dee, dee.”

Birds create a fantastical world for me.  They are beautiful to look at.  Their songs fill empty spaces with pleasure.  They have a lovely disposition and brighten my day.  I’d like to talk about one of my favorites, the Chickadee.

I’ve had many an encounter with the Black-Capped Chickadee from the sharing of meals to a bit of humor.  I’ve seen how they care for other birds, showing them the way.

One such time was when we had a young Robin winter over up here, where the weather turns bitter cold and the snow piles grow.  At first the little guy came to the feeder by himself.  A few days later he stayed  when the Chickadees came, sitting in a leafless bush far from the feeder. Where did he go when the wind blew wildly?  He just sat in the same bush with his feathers fluffed to the uttermost.  Nights were spent in the crook of a maple tree branch.  Finally, on the fifth day, he understood that the Chickadees had been offering him an invitation.  They wanted him to know when to come and eat, where to get his rest, and to sleep in a warm place.  I watched him come with the happy little guys, taking his turn to gather food from beneath the feeder.  He learned to rest in the thick branches of a cedar shrub and to sleep inside the hole of a dead tree, nestled deeply in the woods behind the cabin.

There are other stories familiar to many of the Chickadee landing on shoulders, taking feed from tiny hands,and gathering thickly to complain when “someone” was late with the food.  My funniest was during a second hike of The Appalachian Trail (a continuous trail that runs from Georgia up into Maine).  I did it differently than most by starting in Pennsylvania the second week of March and heading north.  This way I’d be alone for most of the five month journey and I was.  Anyway… I was in Vermont enjoying the rewards of what happens when the skies let loose. It was raining for the fourth day in a row.  As the previous days, the rain was torrential in the middle of the day and had nearly washed away my wonder and awe of where I was.  That is, until I came round a sharp bend in the trail just below the summit of Peru Mountain. I was face to face with a Chickadee, mere inches from my nose.  He said his usual “Chickadee, dee, dee.”  But it was obvious that he was saying more than a cheery hello.  His crisp clear few syllables shouted laughter.  He was laughing at me as I stood in front of him.  Twice!  And then, I couldn’t help myself and began to laugh with him as the rain continued to cover me like a waterfall bursting off the top of my head.  “Chickadee, dee, dee, Dee!  DEE!”  translation, “ha, ha, he, he, you’re all wet! Followed by little giggles.

I cannot claim the scientific distinction between mankind and animal.  The world is a creation beyond eternity.

Hungry

I have no idea what time it is nor do I care.  Suffice it to say that I find it a hindrance like dragging around a ball and chain.  I am using time on this trip for only the prediction of tide and weather. Ah, the compromises one has to make.

I take my leave of the Punchbowl and head for camp.  A thick stand of Rose rugosa, “Beach Rose” is along my route.  They are considered an obnoxious weed in the United States.  It grows with gusto robbing space and nutrients from native plants.  According to Wikipedia, Rose rugosa was introduced to America in 1845 and the first report of Rose rugosa far from where it was introduced occurred in 1899 on Nantucket Island.  Presently, the plant has overtaken the shores and islands of New England States.  Wikipedia Source

I’m happy to see them at the moment because I’m hungry.  Goodness, my meager diet is already becoming a nuisance.  I want flavorful food and more of it.  But for now, I’m happy to feast on some Rose Hips.  I pick a few and eat them where I stand, careful not to consume too many at one time.  I learn that the pulp and seed are filling, quieting the voice of hunger.

[There isn’t much to the rose hip as it mostly pulp and seeds.  However, it is extremely healthy providing vitamins A and C, plus Calcium and other nutrients. Click for more info.]

The hunger I am starting to experience reminds me of my first hike of the Appalachian Trail, click for info.  I thought I’d done a good job preparing food for this hike.  A lot of research was done, including food logistics.  The information turned out to be woefully lacking and hunger became an entity in itself .  His character was single minded, intrusive, demanding, and the instigator of dreams.  One dream focused on the value of food –  I own a pick-up truck and in the dream I had taken it to a garage to be worked on.  When the owner asked for payment, I opened the back, reached in and pulled out four loaves of home-made bread and gave it to him.  Another dream was about eating.  It contained every detail of me making a chocolate cake.  Much of the time focused on spreading a heap of creamy chocolate frosting.  I was very slowly laying it on in fancy swirls.  Then,  I cut a large piece from the cake and right when I was about to take a bite, my hiking partner woke me up.  Boy, was I mad!  and felt like punching her at the time.