The black bear was foraging about 30 yards away from us, studiously ignoring the fan club; the infant ring-collar was curled up and immobile along the margin of Skyline Drive. No evidence of physical assault, so I am guessing that the young'un crawled out onto the pavement seeking warmth, only to discover too late the dangers of hiking in the desert - very few prey and no water.
Fortunately (?) Shenandoah Park's tourist support system provides hikers with ample supplies of water, ibuprofen, grilled ham and cheese sandwiches, blueberry ice cream and shakes. I asked my support angel to postpone the planned resupply event tomorrow. Urp.
A personal achievement: today I hiked over 18 miles, with a total climb of over 4000 feet. Many hikers overtook me and one or two asked if I was all right; truthfully, the last three hours might have been more accurately called clawing my way forward.
Many of the NOBOs (northbound thru hikers on the trail since March and headed for Maine) take bragging rights for back-to-back thirty mile days. They also report multiple sightings of bears and vipers, outpacing both my limited achievements and my paltry wildlife encouunter count, but neither concerns me. My greatest concern is that I may be struggling along the trail right past snakes and bears without noticing, not a best practice.
The northbound thru hiker race to Mount Kahtadin is in full flood here. Most are college age men and women, but a reasonable number are men and women older than I am, and taking justifiable pride in rejecting the stereotypes of their age. Rumors echoing along the trail gossip network speak of a woman in her eighties, well on her way north!
I wish her and all of my fellow white blaze fanatics happy trails and godspeed.