Monday, September 14, 2009

Shenandoah's Wildlife Bonanza!

9-9-09 day 99
start: Tom Floyd Wayside, VA
end: Pass Mountain Hut, VA
daily mileage: 23.6
total mileage: 1245.3

We planned on a long day but the terrain is super easy and all the hills are graded nice and shallow. Early on we heard a loud rustling in the trees, and as I thought "that sounds bigger than a squirrel" I hear Disney yell, "Bear, bear!". Sure enough up in the tree there were two black bears frantically climbing down to run away. It was a mama and a baby and our first southern bear sighting. Later on I got ahead of Disney and saw two more bears of to my right, and when we met back up he reported seeing a couple. They may have been the same ones but we choose to tally up to 6.

While I was up ahead, it had been a a while, so I stopped and waited by the side of the trail. While I was waiting two deer crashed out of the tall grass, literally 5 feet away from me. I jumped about a foot. After waiting for a half an hour I was confused because I knew he wasn't that far behind. I eventually pushed on to find out later he had stopped with our friend Sisyphus at one of the park Wayside centers for milkshakes. Funny story, actually, about Sisyphus. He's a straight southbounder and we met him for the first time just south of Hanover, NH. Just, by chance we happened to pick up the trail again in Harper just as he was coming through.

A sign outside the Pass Mountain Shelter reported problem bear activity in the area. All this means is a bear has learned there are people and thus, food here so we would have to be careful with hanging our food and stuff. Like clockwork, within 15 minutes he showed up. Disney was in the privy and the bear came out of the woods about 20ft away from it. He was standing in some bushes and Sisyphus and I hollered over at Disney not to come out because of a bear. "What? Really?!", well he popped his head out to see, yes really, the bear standing on two legs right there. It was awesome. After a minute or so he ran off into the woods. We hung our food and didn't have any problems with him the rest of the night.

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