I am often asked what wildlife I see during my hike. I think the people asking me this are hoping to hear something exciting like, “I rode a moose off into the sunset!!” Or, “I fought a bear with my bare hands!!” Unfortunately I was not lucky enough to see a moose and fortunately I haven’t crossed a bear’s path…. yet. The biggest animal I have seen this trip was a deer (which I’ve literally seen in my own backyard as well.) Mostly the critters I see regularly are along the lines of mice, squirrels, snakes, frogs, toads, birds, and tiny lizards.
It’s labor day and The Hikers Welcome Hostel is having a party. The Gypsys and I hike there and enjoy a day of food, sunshine and games. Miss Janet is there and she’s brought hikers from all over the trail just to enjoy the party and will return them when it ends. Chet is also there, it’s good to see the both of them again. I meet two fellow vegan hikers while there as well. One of them, Jupiter, is hiking from Canada to Florida. He hikes big miles everyday sometimes doing 30 or more in a day. His pack is only 12 lbs. He helps me go through my pack and shakedown getting rid of unnecessary items and discussing ways to lose more pack weight. He’s very helpful and informative and I enjoy learning a different way of hiking.
I meet some weekenders at a cabin with a lookout tower built on the top of it. It’s a privately owned cabin that the owners have opened up for hikers to use. I don’t plan on staying there however the weekenders have a puppy and bourbon so I’m easily swayed to stay. I know a storm is brewing so that also helps my decision. I wake up to window shaking thunder, crashes of lightning, and vicious winds. I’m fighting a cold and the fact that I get to enjoy this beautiful storm from inside the cozy cabin is comforting. I make some coffee and lay in my sleeping bag and feel at home for the morning.
The next day as I’m hiking I look down to see a baby squirrel laying on the trail. He’s soaking wet and shaking. Upon further examination I see that his leg is broken badly and he has broken ribs as well. I can see his bones protruding from his little body. Despite his injuries he’s still moving about although very slowly. I am torn. I know I should leave him and let nature be but my heart is breaking at the thought. I finally make the foolish decision to take him with me. I know that with his injuries he will not recover but I can at least provide him a warm dry place to die peacefully. I wrap him in a thick sock and he grabs it and nuzzles his face into it like a blanky. I make sure he’s all cozy and tuck him into my breast pocket. He’s my companion for two days. I name him Odie. I take him out on my breaks to check on him. He drags himself to the water source to drink and I feed him peanuts. One morning I wake up and check on him. He’s curled up in a little ball and no longer breathing. I knew he wasn’t going to make it but I still cry at the loss.
When I was a child, our cat spotty would attack baby bunnies. Sometimes we would catch her in the act and save the babies and nurse them back to health or care for them until they died. There were also several instances I caught birds with broken wings and cared for them as well. I suppose not much has changed since then. Maybe it’s not my place to do this but it’s in my nature to help the suffering. I hitch into town getting a ride from a girl that helps maintain the trail.she takes me to the Yellow Deli hiker hostel.
They are part of a religious group called the 12 tribes. They are donation or work for stay based. They are very kind giving you a cold glass of peach mate tea upon arrival. I am warned by other hikers that they are always looking to recruit members and to not get stuck. I’ve been here for four days waiting on a package but I’ve been slackpacking so that I’m not terribly Far behind.
My 90 liter pack that I started the trip with is falling apart. I order a 50 liter pack but they mistakenly send me a 35 liter. This will have to do until I make it to the next town where the correct pack is being sent. I wanted to downsize but this is drastic! The deli wants me to stay another two day so that I can attend a wedding they are holding for a couple in their tribe but I feel that I should move on.
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