AT Approach Trail Part 2

I woke early to find Scoob curled just beneath me and ready to hit the trail. So we broke camp and snuck quietly out, saying our goodbyes under our breath. Just a short jaunt down the path was another water source I hoped was nearer to the trail. It was and though it was just a silt-thickened trickle, I was able to filter enough to refill our bottles for our journey back. This one trip taught me that a collapsible jug is not a luxury but a necessity. Time to start saving my lunch money again.
On the trip up I decided to chance leaving Scoobs leash off. (He did really well. He, like Jo, likes to lead but he’d wait on me every so often to catch up.) A couple of encounters with more aggressive dogs caused me to leash him back up for the trip down. Let’s just say that we descended that mountain in a hurry. Woody Knob was the exception. I hate Woody Knob. My guide book shows almost no appreciable elevation gain. !@#$%^ (Insert expletive of your choice) The book is wrong. It was at this point my attitude turned south. I started complaining to myself and had pretty much decided that I was insane to think I could do this for 5 months straight. Had almost convinced myself to sell all my gear when I had an epiphany: I had started my day au natural (Not naked, naked mind you. That’s only on June 21st)…sans caffeine. Oooohhhhh, that explains it. We had run out of coffee and I had been so excited to get on the trail that I’d forgotten to buy any. Pretty much incontrovertible evidence that I’m an addict. Don’t like it but the first step is admitting that you have a problem. Not that I plan to do anything about it.
Now something interesting happened at this point. Earlier in the morning we’d
heard what I thought was a dog. There are some houses in the area. To be expected on a trip of this magnitude (Ain’t it so, Keith?) Once we reached the top of Woody Knob, I collapsed onto a boulder and was trying to catch my breath. Seconds later the dog started up again. Soon his bark became a howl. His howl began to grow in pitch, warble and change. He sounded like he was being tortured. One howl became many. Maybe 8 or 10? They all took up this eerie, haunting, warbling song. No kidding, Scoob stood up, looked directly at me, twisted his mouth to the side as if in fear and said, “Okay, lets go.” (Well, give me a little artistic license here. He may not have actually spoken but his body language…) He literally drug me down the mountain for the next 3 hours.
When we finally arrived in the parking area we laid down on the oh so cushy pavement and rested till Dana arrived. When she did…oh when she did…she greeted me with a hug, a kiss and a 1 liter Dr. Pepper with a cup of ice. My girl! We drove up to the lodge and before I could get out of the truck I caught a whiff of fried chicken. After a hike of any distance I lose all self-discipline when it comes to food. We would have fried chicken and we’d have it soon. Unfortunately, it was 10:45 am and they didn’t serve until 11:30. After scaring the young lady in the gift shop by expressing my primal need for meat, I decided we would camp out by the door until they opened. To the left of our table was a gorgeous view of the mountains, across from me the beautiful love of my life, but to my right…to my right? The buffet. I tore into this enormous chicken breast with such an unbridled fervor that I was drawing stares from people around the room. Mothers hugged their children tighter. Grown me looked on with disgust. I could care less. As the perfectly fried, crunch gave way to the tender, succulent, oh so juicy white meat, my eyes rolled back in my head and I nearly passed out from sheer pleasure. Not to mention the caffeine was kicking in. Now that’s a good day.

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