FINALLY got out on a short hike for the FIRST time this year. How could I have let this happen? I’ve normally got several backpacking trips under my belt by this time of the year. Life just gets in the way sometimes.

Kris (sister), Karla’s mom (Wanda?), Karla, and Jen (a princess on her first hike!)
Kris (sister), Karla’s mom (Wanda?), Karla, and Jen (a princess on her first hike!)

Anyway, did a 5-mile loop hike on the Appalachian Trail with some friends…5 miles that were a good representation of the AT in PA. Read – lots of rock and boulder hopping. We all took turns leading the pack and eating the spider webs spun across the trail through boulder fields, tropical rain forests, meadows, dense underbrush, and every other type of forest that PA offers. Ok, there were no tropical rain forests but there was a huge variety in vegetation.

Black snake across trail
Black snake across trail

Animals were sparce…except for a huge black snake sprawled out across the trail. First we thought it was a stick. After Charlie (my dog) walked across it a few times we realized it was a snake but thought it was dead. I reached for my cell phone to take a picture and saw its tongue move out of the corner of my eye. We threw some sticks near it and as it reluctantly started slithering off the trail, I think I heard it mumble something about “freaking hikers” under its breath. We continued on, coming up with some good headlines about a Palestinian woman (Jen!) out on her first hike being eaten by a black snake.

We continued on to the AT shelter about 2/3′s of the way in where we disturbed a couple sleeping in. Bummer. We sat on the edge of the shelter and the picnic table and ate a snack, and I took Charlie down to the spring for water. I’m always forgetting poor Charlie’s water bowl! But Karla’s mom gave me a great tip. She suggested keeping a piece of Saran wrap in my pack and then just digging a little hole in the ground, lay the Saran wrap over the hole and fill with water…voila, instant dog bowl. Cool!

Also got another great tip from her. I’ve got all kinds of packaging materials from having to ship horns. She said she uses the bubble wrap as a seat cushion. It’s light-weight, cheap, and replaceable. I’ll have to try it out.

So…we all had a really good time on our little outing…even my sister, Kris, who I often try to drag along on my ventures. Occassionally (very occassionally), she’ll give in and join me for something. I think she usually regrets it with several days of sore muscles and vows to never do it again. Eventually she always comes around again. This time, I think she actually enjoyed herself. By the end of the hike she and Jen were well ahead of the rest of us and chatting like magpies. :-)

Then I went home and took an hour-long nap!!!