Monday, June 2, 2008

Wildlife Sightings

The hiking was pretty special today. My new boot insoles are a hit. I had a little pain in my toes but nothing compared to the pain I was having on the balls of my feet. So I was able to march along like I knew what I was doing. The trail was not as scenic as yesterday, but those laurel were still in bloom making it a beautiful woods walk. I also ran into Pack Animal, a gentleman D-Tour and I had met just north of Daleville. It was nice to see him again. He was in high spirits as he had just spent a few zero days in Waynesboro with his family.

On our way home, the wildlife came out for a showing. First there was the turkey that walked across the road right in front of us. He was never in any danger of being hit, but I guess he thought he was, so he took flight. Turkeys are pretty awkward at flying; they do much better on the ground. About a mile further down the road another turkey was crossing to the other side. It was a mother with about 8 little chicks. They were so cute. My camera, of course, was in my pack in the back seat and I was not able to get a picture. Motoring along about 2 miles later, with sharp eyes out for turkeys, I spotted a bear. She was about to cross the road, but our big diesel engine alerted her to the danger before we got very close. She ran down the slope before I could get in range of a picture.

The bear put me in mind of another bear story which happened in this very national park 7 years ago on our last visit to Shenandoah. We were here on a vacation and doing some loop backpacking trips. We had been out for 2 or 3 days and were camped for the evening down near where the Herbert Hoover’s vacation home is located. I was feeling pretty good about our campsite. We were within park regulations many, many, many feet from any road, trial, building, or water source. But we were still close enough to “civilization” that I felt like we didn’t have to worry about bears. There was the big road that tour buses used to bring hundreds of people to see the Hoover place and there was a heavily used horse trail nearby all of which were pretty busy about the time we decided to fix dinner. Dinner that night was a pouch of chicken, Stovetop Stuffing, and gravy. About the time the smell of cornbread dressing filled the air I heard a little rustling sound. The bear came strolling along; we jumped up with whistles in mouth and beating the pans together. That bear was unimpressed. Thankfully, he passed by our encampment and strolled on down the hill. Gene, miraculously, was able to throw the rope and hang our food higher than ever before. The next morning as we were leaving to continue our hike, we discovered the game trail. It was a well worn path and the bear evidently used it daily on his walk to the stream.
Now there's a wild one for sure.

With a good hike and all that wildlife, we were feeling a little hungry. One thing about hiking, it works up a good appetite. Ice cream is always our first choice.

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