Nature gone wild

woodchuckIt’s been a while since I’d checked up on Tom-B, one of the thru-hikers I met on the Appalachian Trail back in April, so tonight I looked up his recent TrailJournals entries.

At last report he was still hiking and now in Pennsylvania. Recently, he says, he had a close encounter with a vicious killer.

Well, okay. Maybe it wasn’t a moment of terror, but it could have been a dangerous situation.

I’ve seen 4 groundhogs on the Trail in the past few weeks. With one exception, they all scooted down the Trail, and eventually turned into the woods. The one who wouldn’t leave the Trail was probably sick or injured, and I realized later, possibly blind. When I first saw it, it stumbled up the Trail with a back leg appearing to not work well. As I got closer, thinking it would turn into the woods, it turned around and came toward me. I stopped, and it stopped. I yelled, made noise with my poles and threw rocks in its direction, but it had no effect. When it started toward me again, I was concerned that it might be rabid, so I started backing up. Not the best strategy on a rocky Trail, because I fell backward, fortuantely landing on my pack, so no harm done. I got up, and stood on a log on the side of the Trail while the groundhog stumbled by without even looking in my direction

That reminds me of my own encounter with a crazed groundhog a few months ago. I was riding my bike on a short (15-mile) route I frequently take when I don’t have much time to get in some decent distance. It’s a there-and-back route that goes over one hill and a few short rollers.

Now, when it comes to hills, I’m not the fastest guy on a bike.

Okay, I’m slow.

But I never thought I’d have to speed up so that I wouldn’t be out-run by a woodchuck.

As I neared the top of that hill, a fat woodchuck darted out of the weeds along the side of the road. It was headed right at me.

I’m not making this up. I had to speed up so that I wouldn’t be attacked by that animal.

I’ve been chased by dogs many times, but never before by a woodchuck.

But it wasn’t long before that would-be killer got his. A couple weeks later I returned to that hill, only to discover a dead woodchuck lying in the middle of the road.

Serves him right.

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