Appalachian Trail Mile 557.6

Sunday, June 11, 2017 (Day 39)

The departure from Atkins was slow-going. By 4pm, however, I was on my way.

There were many pastures and many cows. The sky was so clear and the lightning bugs many. I could see the moon and stars; brilliantly back-lit cut-outs from the night sky. At one point, following the trail through tall golden grasses, I glanced up to see at least 40 glowing eyes. No more than ten feet from the trail, 20 pairs of cow eyes–widened in obvious fear–had their gaze fixed to my headlamp. Their stocky bodies appeared especially large in the moonlight. I could sense their fear. I was a bit nervous, as well. I did not know what a frightened cow might be capable of. As I slowly followed the trail, which led to an arms reach from the nearest cow, they backed away quickly. They began to run, all of them as a group. Their hooves beat the ground in loud thuds. I could feel the vibrations as they moved, eyes aglow. It was a terrifically entertaining  spectacle.

I night hiked for a bit longer. I did not really have a choice in the matter. There were not many places to camp, and there were signs requesting that hikers stick to the trail as it wound through the privately owned pastures. The cows had done their businesses all up and down the trail, and all of the water sources in the area were not very suitable for drinking. I came to a site at the end of a pasture on the other side of a foot bridge. The site was very full, and the stream unappealing. It was just before a climb. I continued on. Just over 2 miles later, I reached the top . It was flat, and about 50 ft into the woods was the perfect place to lay my head for the night. I was happy.

It feels so nice to be back on the trail.

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