When people talk of PA and the trail all you hear about are rocks, rocks, rocks, and more rocks. Oh don’t forget “it’s the place shoes go to die”.
There are so many things they leave out! You don’t hear about the ridgewalks, the carriage roads, the bears, the people, the squirrels, or the stairs.
When I returned to PA to complete my thru hike, and cover the section of trail I leapfrogged, I was ecstatic to be there. The oppressive heat of late July was gone and the colors of autumn had taken over the woods.
No Shame and I were pushing an almost 18 mile day. We had passed Swatara Gap and were hiking along the ridge when we came across signs of bear.
It wasn’t much but it was fresh. No Shame had been sticking close so I was allowing her to stay off leash. As we made our way across the ridge I was lost in the beauty of the leaves. I was snapping pictures and looking forward to the promise of a vista in the next couple of miles.
No Shame was about ten feet ahead of me sniffing along the trail. Suddenly my attention was drawn to the sound of an animal crashing through the brush to my right. I’m torn, do I yell at No Shame calling her back to me and hope it will not lead whatever animal it is to me, or do I stand silently and hope it will pass us by and No Shame will opt not to follow it. In a split second I decide for the second option. I looked to my right, waiting to see the dark fur of a bear visible through the branches. I strain my ears to pinpoint the sounds. THERE IT IS!!! I glanced back at No Shame she’s oblivious to the approaching animal. The noise is growing louder and the creature is in full view! It is moving at top speed and is headed directly for No Shame! The grey bundle of fury appears to be on a death mission! I watch in utter disbelief as this giant grey squirrel dashes six inches in front of No Shame, across the trail and up a tree! By the time No Shame realizes what has just occured the squirrel is beyond her reach but it doesn’t stop her headlong charge into the pricker brush and up the base of the tree.
This whole event got my heart rate up, reminded me the trail is unpredictable, filled me with laughter, and made me realize there is much about PA we aren’t told, like that the Geico squirrel is running along one of the ridges!
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