March 27, 2017
Monday morning. Daylight steals softly into the tent. Neurons deep in the recesses of my brain signal a change. Eyelids crack open to see night-dim shades of gray transmute to vibrant hues. Color is my cue to begin the day.
I sit up and stretch, stiff from sleep. Routine begins with a smile at Jay and a whispered, “Good morning.” Sleeping bag and pad, headlamp, gear – all get loaded into my pack, then it is time to put on shoes and stagger outside.
A barred owl, heading home for the day, lets out one last call, “Who cooks for you? Who cooks for you-all?”
A cardinal greets the day with good advice, “Cheer, cheer, cheer, cheer, cheer … cheer, cheer, cheer, cheer, cheer.”
The tufted titmouse sings out my brother’s name, “Peter, peter, peter … peter, peter, peter.”
The pileated woodpecker marks his territory with loud rattling pounding upon a tree, then a raucous call of derisive laughter.
A ruffed grouse joins the chorus with deep bass thrums – wings beating the air up to 50 times per 10 second interval – thump …….. thump …… thump …. thump … thump, Thump, THump, THUmp, THUMP, THUMP!
Upon exiting the tent, my first and most urgent need is to answer a call of nature. On the way back, I collect the food bags, hanging out of reach of marauding mice and bears. Today my food bag tree slants over the edge of a small cliff. I plant my feet, sling one arm around the friendly tree trunk, then lean waaay out, fingers stretched to snag the rope, bringing our food within reach. Who needs early morning caffeine when one can access a quick adrenaline rush while doing chores?
The sun tosses its first beam of light over the ridge top as I coil the food bag rope. Jay and I hoist our packs, heading north through the early morning sunrise. We’ll hike for 30 minutes to get warm, then stop for breakfast. My Appalachian Monday morning has begun.