Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Day 111: Chasing porcupines!

June 26: Most of the morning, I continued working on these blog posts, trying to build up a backlog large enough to make it through to my next resupply point. I did not, however, intend to take another zero day. Nope, one was good. So I waited until just before checkout time before leaving my hotel--a little before 11:00.

Walking out of Dalton!

Before leaving town, I walked over the to the post office to mail my laptop ahead again, then wandered over to Angelina's Subs for lunch where I met a few hikers who'd just arrived in town that I hadn't met before. I ate lunch with them and chatted, then hit the trail by around noon.

The day's hike was largely uneventful. The trail was largely dry and devoid of mud in stark contrast to my arrival. The trail wasn't flat, but it wasn't difficult or challenging either.

Nine miles out of Dalton, I walked through the small town of Cheshire. Seems like now that I'm in New England, the trail is hitting a lot more towns! I only stopped at Diana's Twist where I ordered a root beer float. To drown my woes.... and enjoy the lovely afternoon. =)
The one big event, however, was that I spotted my first porcupine on the trail! Never before had I seen a porcupine in the wild! It was annoying me too, because I'd hear about all of the other hikers who'd seen a porcupine. One person saw them two different times in the same day. Several shelters had warnings about porcupines who would try to get into the shelter. But somehow, I kept missing them. It seemed like everyone was seeing porcupines except for me. Now, after over 4,000 miles of hiking on the Appalachian Trail, I finally got to see a porcupine myself!

The little guy was sitting on the trail, and when it saw me, it waddled off in the opposite direction. I'm not sure it was afraid of me, per se. It wasn't moving especially fast, but then again, I'm not sure if porcupines can move particularly fast. These animals aren't known for their running speeds!

It's the Fitch-Hoose House Preservation Project!

I wanted to get a photo of it, though, so I followed behind with my camera trying to take photo. In any case, the porcupine was following the trail in the direction I was headed. Not like I had to go out of my way to chase the fellow. But getting a good photo proved all but impossible because the guy would not stop moving! And I didn't want to get too close to him, so I tried to follow behind at a respectful distance, but with the trail curving left and right, I often times couldn't even see him ahead on the trail. Then I'd be worried about turning a corner and WOAH! He's right there! So I'd slow down around the curves in the trail and carefully round those bends until I could get a visual sight on him again. At best, I was getting peeks at the guy, and not able to get any photos.

Finally, I went to video mode. At least I could get the peeks on video. I must have "chased" this porcupine down the trail for several minutes before it finally came up with a new plan which was to climb a dead-looking tree on the side of the trail.

I watched him climb up the tree, excruciatingly slow. It's like he wasn't sure how to climb a tree, doing it tentatively and with much effort. Or maybe he was afraid of heights. Up and up the tree it went, and I had to pass by under it to continue the trail. I didn't really like the idea of knowing that there was a porcupine immediately above the trail and could jump off on top of me while I passed by. I had no reason to think it would do anything so suicidal as to jump off the tree, but I don't really know much about porcupines except not to mess them!

So I quickly passed the tree, and continued recording video with my camera and even took a couple of shots. When it had climbed quite high in the tree and I couldn't really see it anymore, I finally left the guy in peace and continued my hike. But I finally saw a porcupine!!!!

Late in the day I started heading up to Mount Greylock, the highest point in Massachusetts. I didn't go to the top, however. I stopped a bit short of the top and set up camp at the Mark Noepel Shelter. For a while, I thought I might have the shelter completely to myself since the sun had set and it was quite dark--it would have been the second shelter I had to myself in a week!--before a headlamp pierced the darkness and another hiker arrived. It was Jiggs, showing up at the shelter remarkably late. I didn't write down the time of his arrival, but I made a note in my journal that I was writing at 8:30 at night and nobody had yet arrived so whatever time he arrived--it was after 8:30.

I was actually surprised to see Jiggs. He'd been hiking 30+ mile days and passed me long earlier. I never thought I'd see him again. "What happened?" I asked. "Did you get lost?!"

No, but he had taken something like 10 days off the trail.

"You mean after taking TEN ZERO DAYS," I said, "I could only catch up with you and not even pass you?!" Jiggs is a hiking machine....

And that was my day. =)

What kind of risks are we talking about here?!

It's a HAPPY blaze! =)

Diane's Twist in the small town of Cheshire.

I ordered the root beer float. =)

Looks like corn!


Porcupine climbing a tree

Go, little guy! Go! Go! Go!


Anonymous said...

I now realize I pretty much know nothing about porcupines. They can climb trees? Thanks for the video! -Trishee

Ryan said...

Well, this one climbed a tree.... but he really didn't seem very good at it! It may have been his first attempt! =)

-- Ryan

Jaxx said...

Maybe he was your spirit animal for this part of the journey

Mary said...

I never thought porcupines could climb trees so I googled it -

"Porcupine. ... The New World porcupines are indigenous to North America and northern South America. They live in wooded areas and can climb trees, where some species spend their entire lives. They are less strictly nocturnal than their Old World relatives, and generally smaller." Who knew!!!