Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Good to the Last Drop(ping)


The 2000+ miles of the Appalachian Trail provide numerous opportunities for involvement with nature in all her moods and settings. Some of those can be downright dangerous for the hiker, such as blizzards, thunderstorms, rockslides and rabid animals, to name just a few.

Most people feel the beauty and tranquility of this great trail more than compensate for Mother Nature’s less obliging scenarios, however. And sometimes, dear old nature can have quite a sense of humor.

Take the story of Eddie P., a long-distance hiker from the Big Apple who decided to take about three weeks off work to hike the section of the Appalachian Trail that passes completely through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Walking north to south, which is counter to the direction most of the through-hikers do, Eddie was whistling a jaunty walking song as he approached the cutoff to the Shuckstack Trail, about four miles from Fontana Dam and the end of his great adventure. It was all downhill from here and he was feeling really full of himself, so he picked up a handy rock and exuberantly threw it at some tree branches nearby. Did I happen to mention that Eddie was something of a kid at heart, despite being thirty-something?

Unfortunately, that rock startled a crow that had just settled down to enjoy a well-earned meal. Said meal took advantage of its captor’s divided attention to scuttle away out of reach. Once the bird settled back on its branch to find its tasty morsel gone, anger filled its little birdie brain as it hurtled down on the human who was the cause of its increasingly-empty stomach.

Now it was Eddie’s turn to be startled as the hateful crow dive-bombed him through the trees. He waved his arms frantically to keep the creature out of his face, but it just kept coming. Finally he picked up another rock, throwing it as hard and as accurately as he could. As some black feathers floated down to the ground, he yelled up at the now-clear sky, “Ha, ha, you dumb bird! I had the last laugh after all, didn’t I?”

Eddie stepped out briskly once more and finished the last lap of his epic journey –  epic in his mind, at least. He had timed his arrival back at his car to coincide with Happy Hour, had there been any bars in the area to be having one. But the man had planned ahead. He had a single-serving bottle of champagne stashed in the trunk. Even though it wasn’t exactly chilled to the proper temperature, he figured, since it had been cloudy and cool today, it shouldn’t taste too bad, and that was the proper way to celebrate the successful conclusion of his foot journey.

Finding a comfortable place to sit and admire the scenery, he carefully poured the contents of his miniature bottle into his trail cup and sniffed the bouquet appreciatively. A shadow passed over him from above. As he looked up, he could almost hear the crow say, “Bomb’s away,” as it let fly.

Plop!

Only a vengeful crow could have directed that “bomb” with such pinpoint accuracy.

“S***t!” Eddie said with feeling as he disgustedly threw away the now-ruined drink. Did he detect the sound of laughter as the black creature flew back up the mountain?

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