June 17: mile 909: top of Saddleback mountain stealth camp

I woke up early and struck my tent since I was in an illegal spot.  I waited until 8 for the store to open to get some coffee and snacks.  By then Crayola got back from the rangers house and we hit the trail by 830.  The forecast was for rain Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday with nice weather on Tuesday.  It was all misty, Spooky like I like it.  The weather stayed nice and the terrain was super easygoing.  The Shanandoah is a really cool park.  Crayola is even slower than I am so I went ahead of her by a good bit.  At the top of the first mountain I turned to the right to look at the overlook and was growled at by an enormous bear in the tree next to me.  She was about eight feet up the tree and ten feet from me.  I could have lunged and got her with my trekking pole she was so close.  Instead, I violated the don’t run from bears rule and hauled ass back down the trail.  After a few moments of catching my wits, I started to carefully sneak back up the trail to try and get a picture.  She slid down the tree with some loud scratching noises.  I got a pic of her as she crossed the trail.  I shouldn’t have put my camera down because two cubs crossed after her one by one.  They were cute little things about the size of my dog bilbo.  I wish I’d snapped a pic of them.

I hiked the rest of the day largely alone with Crayola periodically catching up at breaks.  We skipped the last shelter at about 630 thinking we’d find some decent stealth spot up ahead.  We were wrong.  There are hardly any suitable tent sites anywhere.  By 830 it was getting dark and we finally found a spot that would fit two tents.  We had to clear a bunch of fallen wood and got tents up and bags hung by dark.  A long day yo be sure.

I think that Dirty Duck is not far ahead due to the Duck cartoons that he scratches on the trail being fresh.  Maybe we will catch him tomorrow.  Happy trails.

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