A Trail Report from MacAfee of Knob, The Amazing Appalachian Bouncing Dog--June 8
January 1, 1970Hi, this is MacAfee of Knob, the Amazing Appalachian Bouncing Dog—you can call me “Mac.” My human companions, Leonard and Laurie Adkins (I call them L&L), are busy planning the next portion of our Appalachian Trail thru-hike, so they asked me to write this latest report about our journey.
We have just finished hiking Shenandoah National Park. That place is a dog heaven. L&L seemed to like it a lot, too. On our very first day there were many great smells-deer, rabbits, squirrels, and chipmunks, and just as we got to the first shelter I smelled two bears. Laurie must have seen them because she got very excited, telling everyone at the shelter. They got excited too, although I sensed some fear among them. At bedtime the humans hung their food on a strange tree they called the “bear pole,” a 12-foot tall metal pole with branches and hooks on top and an 8-foot long steel stick used to lift their food bags. It was comical watching them use this contraption. The stick is very heavy and it’s apparently quite a challenge to lift and balance the food, and then slip the string loop of the bags over one of the hooks at the top of the pole. After about 10 tries, L&L were successful and we all went to sleep, 4 of us in the three-sided shelter and 4 people in hammocks outside.
The trail in Shenandoah is wonderfully built, nice for my paws and an easy incline up and down. The trail kept crossing a road called “Skyline Drive”. It’s a special road because big trucks aren’t allowed, but there are lots of campers and trailers and motorcycles too. It was pretty quiet most of the time, with cars going slow and people staring at us as they drove by-I guess I look pretty cool with my doggie packs on.
Due to all the wildlife, I had to be on my guard all the time. There were deer to herd and bears to fend off. My companions don’t appreciate me sometimes. They kept me on the leash constantly. How am I supposed to do my job if they keep me on the leash? I should be free to move the deer off the trail, and keep the chipmunks in their holes and the squirrels up in the trees, not to mention keeping the 9 bears we smelled or saw at a safe distance. (A little south of the park, coyotes ran right by our tent one morning. I don’t mean to sound prejudiced, but they are a very rough crowd and quite clique-ish. Even though we have common ancestors, they tend to get belligerent toward dogs that are not in their pack. Thank goodness they maintain their respect for humans!)
I enjoy the wildlife more than anything, but L&L seem to get excited when we approach developed areas. Loft Mountain Campground had the wonderful smells of deer and chipmunks, but all L&L wanted to do was go to the campstore, where they did laundry and took showers while I slept. I don’t know why they want to do that. They lose that good earthy smell and come out reeking of soap, but they are so happy how can I complain? Who can figure humans? Really, a roll in the grass will leave you refreshed without that water on your head and sickening soapy smell.
One day we walked to a shelter that had doors and waited for another human to arrive in a vehicle. L&L greeted this guy excitedly so I gave him a tail wag and licked his leg. They called him “Uncle Al” and “a trail angel”. He had hiked the Appalachian Trail back in 1984, and he gave L&L cold beverages, chips, cookies, cheese, and crackers. Other hikers came and went and he gave them beverages and goodies too. L&L helped Uncle Al cut grass and clear out the spring. I enjoyed the afternoon under the picnic table in some loose dirt I dug up. L&L seemed especially refreshed and happy about this encounter. Something about “old friends and good conversation”.
A few days later I got really excited when Laurie’s parents appeared out of nowhere. I love those people. They came to celebrate Laurie’s 50th birthday by staying two nights in a cabin at Big Meadows Lodge. Apparently I wasn’t allowed, but I did get a nice, comfortable bed in Mom and Dad’s car and lots of goodies when they returned from the restaurant-sausage for breakfast, burger for lunch, fish for dinner.
After Laurie’s parents left, we had 3 more days in the park, and camped with other hikers who called themselves Gatorgump, Random Man, Waffle, Stoneage, Eulah, Triple Deuce, Macaroni Boy, and Scotty Too Lite. The day we left the park we camped at the Tom Floyd Wayside, a shelter with a porch and Dutch-doored outhouse, and not another person around. It was a nice place to reflect on that wonderful park, such a jewel and gift for the American people and their dogs!
Well, that’s the news from the Appalachian Trail from a dog’s-eye view. They tell me we are skipping ahead to New York soon so that we can get to Maine before the cold weather sets in, and that we’ll do the section we missed later this fall.
Happy Trails and Happy Tails!