Monday, August 1, 2011

Hot, Bear, and Raccon2 Sat&Sun July 30&31, 2011


Still very hot and no significant rain for quite a long time!  


The spring at Old Rag Shelter was only trickling at about a quart per minute.

It would be good to take  100 to 128 ounces of water per person when the weather is hot!!

That means at least three litres or quarts per person!

The following juvenile bear cub was hanging out near the junction of Old Rag, Berryhollow and Weakley Hollow fire roads.


I have a strong suspicion that the raccoon in the next pictures is the same one I saw on the first false summit the week before.   This time I encountered it on Old Rag's summit.     I had taken my pack off and left it on top of a boulder on the summit and then walked away from it briefly in order to visit with a group of three hikers.   When I came back the little rascal was ripping into my pack.   Before I could chase it away it was able to grab an energy bar and run under a nearby boulder to eat.     

While this incident was inadvertent it may have contributed to this animals eventual death.    If a wild animal becomes a nuisance animal there is a good chance it will be put down.    I will be keeping my pack close to me from now on!   I  will also make a point of hazing this animal if I see it being too familiar. 

At the time of this incident there were only 4 people on the summit and we were all initially about 150 feet from my pack.    Returning to the area were I had left my pack I realized a raccoon was frantically ripping into it.   I got within about three feet and actually on top of the boulder before the bandit would run away.   She was able to score an energy bar before she ran under a boulder about ten feet away.     After she finished her stolen snack she had the gall to come back to the boulder.   I was standing directly over my pack on top of the boulder and the little gal came right up to the edge of the boulder and stood on her hind legs with her front feet grabbing holds on the side of the boulder just inches away from my toes.   She was looking straight at me with a cute, quizzical, deploring, gotta luv and feed me expression.      Despite how adorable she looked I yelled at her and stomped my foot at which point she decided to retreat not just from the boulder but totally off the summit.     She did not seem crazed or mean but I suggest you keep a very tight watch on your equipment.

Besides keeping a tight watch on your equipment do not do what I did just after chasing the raccoon away from my pack.   I reached down to examine the hole the raccoon had just made in my pack and realized the fingers on my right hand were slimy with the raccoon's saliva.    Bad move.   While I did not have any visible cuts on my hand and the raccoon did not seem outwardly sick (just very bold) I will be discussing with my GP whether the smart thing to do is go through a series of rabies shots.  The good news is I did not have any cuts or sores.    The saliva was hardly visibly but being able to feel its wetness on my fingertips and knowing it was fresh from the raccoon's mouth caused me to go on alert and disinfect my fingers.   The good news is rabies virus is very short lived outside of its host (not sure if this means seconds, minutes, or tens of minutes).     While doing a little on-line research I found out that dead bodies can continue to harbor live virus for awhile.    Surprisingly  the cold weather can actually keep rabies virus viable in a dead host's body longer than it will remain viable in warm weather.    The bottom line is that you should be very careful how you handle wild animals or any vectors/fomites that come in contact with them.   

Not the best picture but you can see how close the raccoon (who is at the bottom left of my pack) was getting to humans in quest for food.

Double click picture for better view.

The raccoon is ravenously eating her energy bar in this picture.    While she was clearly very hungry and willing to get very close to humans she never seemed crazed or angry.   
I had a friend who raised and released a rescued/orphaned baby raccoon when I was in high school.  For those who think this might be fun be aware you need to be trained and licensed to do this both legally and in order to make sure you are doing what is best for the animal.

(See the following link about 11 year old fined $500 dolllars for saving woodpecker.)
While wild animal rescue can be rewarding it requires a very significant round the clock seven day a week level of commitment.   

One of the funny games my friend would play with his juvenile raccoon was to give it a sugar cube and a bowl of water.   The youngster would instinctively wash the sugar cube which would promptly dissolve/disappear after which the coon would spend many funny antic filled minutes looking for it.   My friend would have liked to have kept his young raccoon but had to naturalize and release it before it became sexually mature.   Like humans, once raccoons become adults they can be very MOODY!


I love Old Rag sunsets, dusk and twilight.     Make sure you have lights and backup lights if your going to enjoy these times of day on Old Rag.

During warm weather I almost never see Copperheads during the day but see one on the trail in the evening about every third trip.     Very pretty, fun to see, and not a worry unless you are trying to walk out without a light.   Of course it is always good advice to never place any part of your body (usually feet or hands) where you can not see.    I heard of one person who while hiking up Old Rag grabbed around a small tree trunk only to jump back because he had inadvertently grabbed a black snake climbing up on the back side of the tree trunk.  Towards the end of the summer I have sometimes seen some humongous Wolf Spiders on tree trunks.   I had a friend who reached up on a high shelf in his backyard storage shed and was bitten by a Wolf Spider.  Not life threatening but his arm swelled up and he felt really sick for awhile.    While under headlamp on really buggy nights it is good to keep your mouth shut or wear some kind of shield to prevent bugs from getting sucked down into you lungs.     I once ran into what are called European Hornets.   They look like super giant yellow jackets, are nocturnal and will attack lights.    It took me a few seconds to realize they were after my headlamp and that I needed to turn it off until I had walked past the area near their nest.  

Fireflies, spider and animal eyes reflecting back at your headlamp light, bats flying almost right up to your face while chasing bugs attracted to your headlamp.  The wonders of shooting stars, moonlight, twinkling star fields, constellations, planets.   The beauty  of distant city lights, cars, and planes.    Becoming much more aware of your senses of sound and smell.

I added the next short video clip more for the sound of the tree frogs.   The audio in the clip does not do them justice.    Between the tree frogs, cicadas and a nearby screech owl it was a marvelous symphony.

1 comment:

  1. I see you finally got your bear shot. :) Nice shot of the raccoon. Hopefully, he isn't sick.