Cows, Ponies and Bears ...Oh My!

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Spudnik and Babushka are currently thru-hiking the Appalachian trail and have just passed the quarter mark. Read on to learn about their adventures in cattle wrangling and a bear encounter in Virginia.  

We have not been able to update in a short while and there is a lot to catch up on. Since our last post, we have traversed another hundred miles and have passed the quarter-way point on the Appalachian Trail.

Babushka and I are lucky to be enjoying good health and are feeling good. That is not to say our journey has not had its share of physical and mental challenges, but we are doing pretty well for having come over 600 miles.  The trail continues to challenge and surprise us. Some of the highlights of the past 100 miles include becoming accidental (and very bad) cattle wranglers, being meet by herds of wild ponies and having a close encounter with a black bear.  

Let me start with the cattle story. Babushka and I had just entered the highlands of southern Virginia. The landscape is diverse as the trail travels underneath deep green tunnels of 10 foot high rhododendrons, across open meadowlands, and over grassy mountaintops. This day was particularly warm and we had gone about 10 miles when we came across a clearing adjacent to a roadway pass and rest area. Across the roadway was a fenced in area, which is owned by the US Forest Service and leased out to cattle ranchers. The AT traverses several livestock grazing areas, and you need to climb over stiles and walk past cattle as you go through these areas. We decided to have lunch by the side of the roadway with some other thru-hikers.

As we sat and ate lunch, we heard a rumbling noise off in the distance that began to grow louder and louder. To our left, across the roadway, we saw a large herd of cattle running down the field. As they began to come closer we noticed a baby calf had somehow jumped the fence and was on the roadway. The calf and its mother (following closely along the fence) both appeared to be distressed by the situation. Babushka, High Five and Little John (some of the other thru-hikers we were with) and I decided we were totally qualified to help this calf out, and sprang into action.

Little John and High Five ran after the calf to corral it back while Babushka and I ran to get a small gate in the fence open. They were able to herd the calf towards us and we tried to get it in the gate without letting the other (much larger) cattle out. As we swung the gate open the ranchers who owned the cattle sped down the road with their truck and helped us get the small cow back into the pasture. They thanked us for our help. It must have been quite an amusing sight! We knew there would be physical and mental challenges out here, but this experience was far from anything we could have expected. In the video above you can see the herd of cattle running across a field (and the AT), and the little calf outside the gate is one we were trying to get back into the enclosure. That was not our only experience with pack-stock animals.

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Original author: Christian Przybylek

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