David Johnson's Travel Blog
Bicycle Trip 1999
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Texas 2003
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Sequoia National Park 2004
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Nomadic 2010
08/21  Plan B
08/22  Mystery and Eagles
08/26  Bowels of Security
08/29  The Haunted Outhouse
09/02  I crossed the Mack
09/04  Shopping in Michigan
09/04  Ford
09/05  Kentucky
09/05  Tennessee Memories
09/09  I still cannot pronounce Dahlenoga
09/10  Not all that glitters is gold
09/12  Begging turtles at Magnolia Springs State Park
09/24  Two weeks in Bluffton
09/25  Camping on Jekyll Island
09/26  Sulfur water coffee
10/01  "It was crazy all them gators."
10/03  Blue Ridge Parkway
10/04  What part of Wisconsin are you from?
10/05  Linville Falls
10/08  A little bit of color
10/09  Crunchy, Grunty and Stompy wouldn't let me sleep.
10/09  Last day in Shenandoah
10/14  Colorful
10/23  The Empire State
10/27  Back South Again
10/30  Kentucky Again
11/03  (pictures)
11/05  (pictures)
11/06  (pictures)
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11/17  (pictures)
11/23  (pictures)
11/24  (pictures)
11/25  (pictures)
11/26  (pictures)
Little Bicycle Trip 2011
Wisconsin Bicycle Trip 2011
Bicycle Trip 2011
Nomadic 2011
Kayak Trip 2012
Nomadic 2012
Liverworks Productions
Nomadic 2013
Liverworks Productions
Texas Pig Hunting
Bicycle Trip 2014
Bicycle Trip 2015
Biking West 2015
Chickens and Pheasants 2016
Biking About 2016
New Zealand 2016
Kayak Trip 2017

Crunchy, Grunty and Stompy wouldn't let me sleep.

2010-10-09

tl;dr: I saw a lot of critters today in Shenandoah, and Crunchy, Grunty and Stompy wouldn't let me sleep.

I entered Shenandoah National Park around 1pm. I arrived at the first campground an hour later where it was a good 45 minutes before I was told there were no more camping slots available. Anywhere. Yeah, I called them slots. They never actually said, "we're full." They said, "we have 7 sites left, and there are 7 people out claiming them, but there is still hope." Must be the new math. After a lady ahead of me in the queue returned without finding an open site I removed myself from the queue and left. I would figure something out.

I decided to hike the Doyle River Loop trail. The map indicated the loop was 7.8 miles and would take 7 hours. 7 hours? Maybe if I had 1 leg and weighed 400 pounds.

A little ways down the trail I met a guy who warned me that I might see a bear ahead. I've heard that story before, so I thanked him and moved on with an expectationless hope. But sure enough a mile further there was a bear in the creek turning over rocks. I'm not much of a judge, but I'd give it 150 pounds. It knew I was snapping pictures, but it just did’t care. Soon I heard some chatty girls trouncing down the trail. I signaled for them to be quiet. They didn't see me. I signaled again. They still weren't paying attention. I waved my arms and pointed. Nothing. So I gave them a loud "shhhh." Finally they paid attention and I pointed to the bear. Of course the bear didn't care. We took pictures and even started talking. Eventually the bear moved behind some brush so we moved on.

The trail was nice. There were multiple waterfalls, and the fall colors are just starting to appear. The weather was absolutely perfect for hiking.

About three quarters of the way around the loop I suddenly startled two more bears. These were smaller. They ran off a little ways and dutifully waited to get their pictures taken.

A little further down the trail here comes a deer walking right at me. She sees me but isn't too concerned; she just walks off the trail and down the slope.

When I'm only a couple hundred yards from the parking area there's another bear; right in the trail. This one is chunkier. I'd put it at 200 pounds. Once again there is no fear or concern displayed -- by either of us.

After the hike I crossed Skyline Drive to watch the sun set. I commented to another spectator that I was probably going to have to sleep in my van. He told me that the lots are patrolled all night and I'd certainly get a flashlight in my face. So my only other choice is to "back country camp". I returned to my van, wolfed down dinner (because I was not bringing food with me), and put together my camping stuff.

It was getting dark, but you could still see. I wasn't planning on going very far; just far enough to not be out of site of the patrols. I walked a few hundred yards down the Appalachian Trail. And there's that bear again. It might have been a different one, because it didn't seem so round, but it was probably that 200 pound chunky bear. I literally had to yell, "Get bear, get!" and shake my hiking staff at it to chase it off the trail. "Stupid bears," I muttered knowing it would probably be impossible for me to sleep soundly now.

Figuring the bear was moving in a general direction I backtracked in the opposite direction a bit and set up my tent. Before long the woods were darker than the inside of a cow. The owls here are extra obnoxious, and I think I occasionally heard some sort of cat cry out, but it was probably an owl.

Though dark it was still early so I decided to read for a while. An hour later I suddenly heard a sound that is best described by imagining horses dancing on rocks. Crunch crunch crunch. It was loud! I shine my flashlight through the mesh (my tent is mesh on three sides) and there's Chunky standing a dozen yards away eating acorns. On the one hand I was glad the bear was finding food. On the other there's a big bear a dozen yards from my tent.

After a bit Chunky wandered off. Just as I was finally falling asleep the crunching starts up again, though not nearly so severe. My light sent something scrambling into the brush so I'm guessing raccoons were also eating acorns. There are a lot of acorns. A new one hits the ground every three minutes in a very audible way. Not long after I once again almost fell asleep a rabbit showed up and bounced mercilessly through the dry leaves. After that the deer start roaming. By my light I easily watched three deer saunter noisily by. Then one turned around and went by again, and then again, grunting the whole time. Another stood in the brush and continuously stomped the ground with its hooves.

By this point it was well after midnight. I came to the conclusion that it was just too noisy to sleep. I’m a light sleeper anyway, so the owls, falling acorns, crunching bears, grunting and stomping deer, raccoons, rabbits and buzzing insects didn’t exactly help me rest. Hoping the park police had made their rounds I packed up everything and walked back to my van. The Appalachian Trail is pretty easy to follow even in the dark.

Nobody ever shined a flashlight at me, and I managed to get a few hours of sleep before waking up just before dawn. I didn't sleep too well, though, because the van wasn't level and I kept sliding downhill.

entering Shanendoah National Park


bear #1


changing colors


waterfall along the Doyle River Loop trail


another waterfall


bear #2


bear #3


deer along Doyle River Loop trail


Bear #4


good night Shanendoah


bear in the dark

contact me at le@liverworks.com
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