Day 101: The usual, but with bears

Stealth camping near Riprap Trail [mile 874.5]

Couldn’t even make it thirteen miles to the next shelter. Right foot—the same one that’s been plagueing me for two months. I’m actually wondering if I have some sort of stress issue. But whatever. The bigger problem is trying to coordinate tomorrow’s visit with my friends J and P! I wanted to get to Black Rock Shelter so i’d only have six miles to the meet spot tomorrow, but my wimpy body just couldn’t manage. Day 2 crap… which boils down to pack weight. The pack is so heavy with food that it just grinds my feet to the bone. And water was scarce today, so I ended up carrying a couple of liters—five extra pounds.

The good news is that I can text, at least. I hate inconveniencing my friends this way; planning out here is a nightmare for a slow hiker. If you’re fast, I imagine you can sit somewhere and wait until the stars align.

I’m also anxious about where I’m going to sleep tomorrow night. This might end up having to be a short visit. 😦 Or hell. Maybe I’ll just drive home with them!

So… the day. Beautiful weather after a chilly start. Steadily uphill all morning. Not too many rocks until this afternoon. And two close encounters with bears.

My feet had already started to hurt pretty badly by 10, so I took my lunch break at 10:30. I’d been spread out on a fallen tree, eating crackers (because I could reach them, frankly; it wasn’t a great plan. I somehow get stupid in town.) At 11 I packed up and started to limp north, when I heard a rustle in the undergrowth about thirty feet away to my left and up fhe trail. Squirrel, I thought, and glanced over.

Bear.

He was a little guy—not a baby, but maybe a teenager. He wasn’t as big as a deer. He started to run across the trail, but when he realized I wasn’t chasing, he stopped and looked at me. I took some pictures (at a safe distance), then we parted ways.

By 2 in the afternoon, I felt like I was walking on glass. I found this stealth spot and got set up. It’s a terrible location. Sharp rocks, which I’ve tried to cushion, and gods help my tent and my new air mattress. A slope. But it’s home for tonight, and I’m off the feet! I was lying here in the hot sunny tent, too exhausted to move, when a voice shouted over: “Hey, is anybody in that campsite?”

Oh, shit, I thought. I’d tried to be careful about obeying the Shenandoah camping rules, but I must have missed one. “Yeah!” I called back.

“Just wanted to let you know there’s a bear coming in your direction. Fifty feet north.”

Great, I thought. Just great. That bear never made it this far, though.

Bears, bears, stay away. Come to this campsite another day.

Sorry about the influx of bear pictures down below. But it was neat!

Ooh, something’s rustling outside my tent. Is it a bear?

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Categories: Appalachian Trail | Tags: | 8 Comments

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8 thoughts on “Day 101: The usual, but with bears

  1. Lisa Milstead

    BEAR! Very cool!

  2. Derek Vreeland

    Yea! Bears! Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  3. Marge

    It kind of makes it all bearable, doesn’t it?!
    Not enough meat on you for dem bears! The pics look so lush and calming. Every time you send pics, I think to myself, “I think I’ll get THAT one enlarged and framed.” I change my mind with each set of pics! All so beautiful and interesting, some coming with great stories.

  4. shari wb

    Bears! Wow! Beautiful pics and I’m so glad you weren’t dinner!

  5. Very cool bear pics!

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