If your own walks have taken you through Grayson Highlands, you’ll know that the wild ponies there are still one of the absolute highlights of the Appalachian Trail. When I went through there though, I had no clue there were horses around. In 1974 there just wasn’t all that much info available on the AT, and we were often clueless about where we were and what was around us.
I did know though that bears were in the area and that they were just waking up from their winter sleep. And probably hungry. So when I leaned up against a fence to gobble down some gorp in the middle of a unexpectedly violent snowstorm, I was just a bit on edge. The worry was a little about the serious gathering of ice and snow between me and the next shelter. But mostly it was a serious concern about becoming a mid-day meal for some starving, passing beast. I couldn’t find a place for the story in the book. But you can imagine it as well as I can. You’re a little apprehensive; you’re cold; you’re tired; and suddenly a bear comes up behind you and starts breathing its hot, smelly breath into your bluish, freezing ear.
You’d—I assure you—jump just as high and just as far as I did back in the 70s. I hope when you landed, you’d discover that the bear—also like I did—that the beast was really just a little pony, wanting to share your snack. Gotta love the trail.