Twas a tad bit warm during the night. A little sweat had decided to saturate my hammock and bag, but what do you expect at the end of June? Everywhere up and down the coast is turning to toast.
Walking over to the shelter for breakfast, I almost tripped over two gender-neutral cow-person campers who were posted up in a grassy spot right next to the shelter. Twiggy Ninja and Dingo nearly woke, but I front flipped over them like a boss and headed over to the front to eat my breakfast.
Heading on back down the mountain, I was walking through the woods when I spotted a woman darting back and forth over the trail holding some kind of equipment. Curious, I stopped to chat. Turns out she was a grad student doing some kind of study on the ants here, and was in the middle of trapping the buggers. How one goes about trapping ants without honey (and in the process, drowning them) is a mystery to the layman like myself. Regardless, she was looking for a free place to crash (as she was equipped with camping gear), so I gave her the number to this Greymoor Spiritual Life Center I had my eyes set on for the day.
Up to the tourist trap called Bear Mountain I got. Drink vending machines, and of course no bathroom. The view was okay, but the fact that you could drive to the top diminished a little bit of it’s charm. Maps, Moxie, Twiggy Ninja, and Little Engine caught up to me and we barreled on down the mountain laughing and rolling past day hikers as we blasted easily down the concrete steps. At the bottom, they pulled off at an Inn to grab some lunch, and I pushed on to get through the zoo.
Not long after I left the group, my hiker hunger hit me like a giant gong in the chest. I immediately stopped at the first shitty little burger joint that I saw, and paid way too much for a fake frozen burger. While waiting for the “delicacy”, I happened to catch the shape of a full formed round shape in the trash can. Sure enough, another perfectly shaped and untouched burger sat on top of all the trash inside the can. Questions and thoughts began to race through my head. Not too many people are around, I could totally just take it… but is that okay? Have I really stooped to this level yet? Am I REALLY that hungry? Not once did I question the integrity f sanitation of said sandwich, but rather had a moral dilemma with myself in case a child saw me grab the thing. Hindsight, the real question should have been what fucking idiot threw away a perfectly good sandwich?
And I should have eaten it.
That said, the quality of my piping hot microwaved piece of shit was edible. I drowned the patty in ketchup and proceeded to shovel it down as quickly as I could. Adults stared and hid their children’s faces. Children laughed and pointed. Dogs sniffed my feet. The hiker trash in me was full blast and reek, and without my usual posse of hikers surrounding me in town, I really did feel like an animal.
Afterwards, I forcibly had to fill my camel back from the bathroom sink, while simultaneously raiding the bathroom for TP. A few concerned dads with their kids brushed them past me, as if they had never seen a hiker before.
Coming up to the edge of the zoo, I took the EMPLOYEE ENTRANCE/HIKER TRAIL around the side of the zoo. The section was relatively short, but I was finally, FINALLY able to see my first black bear… in a cage.
I could feel the depression and sadness in this place. I felt that I belonged in the cages with the animals. They laid around licking their balls while overweight tourists took pictures of me walking through the place. I felt… odd. All of the animals I had met out in the wilderness had kept a line of communication with me, mainly me putting out the message to stay the hell away from my food. But these sad critters in their prisons gave me such a solemn look. A pack of wolves made eye contact with me at one point. In the split second we saw each other, I showed them how sorry I was and I wished I could set them free so they could come play with me. They looked back, and just pushed me to keep on hiking. They were safe, but so sad and fed up with their monotonous lives.
My first black bear sighting!
Further into my brain these thoughts burrowed. After leaving the zoo, I got on the bridge that crossed over the river back into my beloved wilderness. I stopped and briefly chatted with some construction workers who were making some reinforcements to the bridge. Cars loaded with downtownies going back and forth to their urban jungle smiled and waved and honked at me. The first (and probably last time) they wouldn’t be trying to gun me down. A nice thought for a change.
But what is the difference between these people and those wolves back in the zoo? Out in the “real world”, are we not all just trapped in self made cages? Prisons of contracts and bills and houses? Are we not pinned by our own addictions and obsessions and demands for security? This is the socially acceptable world we have created for man kind, and we project this on to the  zoo animals  that live in a small model of our self-inflicted torture. Those who choose to walk and live on the edge of society can only survive so long before being forced to return to the grasps of modern slavery.
Or do you have to return?
Getting to the edge of the mountain, some Asian kids had just parked their cars and were preparing to ascend the mountain to get a good view. My first official paparazzi, they bombarded me with pictures and questions as I paused to take a break. They were truly fascinated at the idea of walking for months on end, and they wanted to just get up to the top to catch a good view. I wished them luck on their journey and continued up the mountain.
“You smell really clean!” exclaimed one of them. I’m not sure what he meant by that…
Found a huge stand of what I believe to be Chicken of the woods. Has a lot of bugs in it, but I’ll clean it and try to cook a little tonight and see how it goes. Just after, I reached the Appalachian Market (which actually wasn’t so great for resupply, but rumor has it they have a killer breakfast sandwich), and got to watch a Yankee cuss out some Indian guy like nothing I had ever seen before. I mean the guy was just sitting in his car chatting on the phone. This Yankee get’s out screaming about the guy being a god damn sand nigg– and this and that and that he was sick of f*cking terrorists taking up the god damn parking lot all the time and blah blah blah. I mean shit dude, it was intense! We all just sat at the table in shock and amazement as the Indian guy just backed up his car real calm and pulled out of the parking lot and carried on his phone conversation the whole time.
“Should we roll him a joint?” someone chuckled
Rehashed with Voltron and Whistle Tits, and got on the topic of Herpes somehow. She had mentioned that she had someone call her at her pharmacy once and has asked if Herpes lasts forever? Well, unfortunately it does…
This woods chicken is really tasty, I sure hope it’s not poisonous…