March 27, 2017
Monday morning. Daylight steals softly into the tent. Neurons deep in the recesses of my brain signal a change, beginning the waking process. As eyelids crack open, night-dim shades of gray have transmuted to vibrant hues. Color is my cue to begin the day.
I sit up and stretch, stiff from sleep. A smile and a whispered, “Good morning,” exchanged with Jay begins our routines. Sleeping bag and pad, clothes, headlamp – 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 usually collect the food bags from where they have been hung out of reach of marauding mice and bears. Today my chosen 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 morning chores?
The sun tosses its first beam of light over the ridge top as I coil the food bag rope. Jay and I finish loading our packs, then head north on the trail through the early morning sunrise. We’ll hike for 30 minutes to get warmed up, then stop for breakfast. My Appalachian Monday morning has begun.