4/30 Davenport Hap Shelter (14.8)

April 30, 2013 at 1:04 pm

We have even more appreciation of the Smokies after today.  We saw our first bear today, although it wasn’t what we were expecting.  Although hikers anticipated experiencing fear, bravery, elation, or possibly incontinence after running into a big brown bear on the trail, no one was expecting to feel pity or guilt.  We happened upon an unusual scene during lunch which involved a cluster of forest rangers, ridge runners, and animal handlers moving a drugged full grown bear in an orange wheel barrow.  We were told by a peeved forest ranger that he had swiped someone’s food that they had left out and was consequentially being relocated 200 miles.  He was a precocious male that had been moved 100 miles away from the national park a year ago for similar behavior (i.e. taking food from a campsite) and if he repeated his crime he would be euthanized on his third attempt.  Lunch did not taste as good as it usually did as we watched the sleepy, skinny bear, who was only 200 pounds after coming out of hibernation recently, be strapped down and wheeled out by a sympathetic tide of uniforms.  We spent the next few miles in quiet reflection about the responsibilities of hikers.
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imageIt was a clear day and we took the extra 1.2 mile trail to see Mt. Cammerer (pronounced like ‘camera’ in Northern New Hampshire).  The view was incredible, of course, but the real spectacle was the observation tower, which dated back to the late 30’s and was made entirely of stone.  As we neared it through the rhododendron tunnels, it looked almost exactly like a lighthouse on the Maine coast, and we struggled to remind ourselves that we weren’t back at Odiorne State Park but in the woods of North Carolina.  The tower was surrounded by big slanted rocks that we climbed all over, and we flew down the trail without our packs like kids, which is what good days on the trail already feel like.  We ended our day on a bittersweet note at the last shelter before the end of the Smoky Mountains.  Tomorrow would be a short hike out of this National Park that we hope to revisit.
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