Clinic Stories

Alone In the Park

Wildlife are protected in national parks so the parks are often thick with bear and deer. In Great Smoky Mountain National Park bears were such a problem that for a time chain link gates were placed over the front of hiking shelters to keep the bears out. It was not effective in that campers would pass food through the fence to the bears outside encouraging them to come around. While It is amusing to think of bears coming to see people in cages, it is a stark reminder of how many animal problems are created by people.

For 105 miles the Appalachian Trail passes through Shenandoah National Park in Virginia and during deer season the park is closed at night to prevent poaching. It was deer season when I hiked through Shenandoah Park, and apparently the only person doing so. The park rangers told me I had a choice—my car could be locked in the park or locked out of the park overnight. I chose to be locked in. Those were moon lit nights so one bright night I went to my car to take advantage of being alone in the park. I drove up and down the Blue Ridge Parkway, weaving and driving on the wrong side of the road with no head lights. It was fun while it lasted.

How often do you get a chance to ignore traffic laws with free roaming deer as the only threat? They turned out to be a genuine deterrent. Because of those protected deer speeding was out of the question. Despite trying to avoid hitting deer they did not avoid me. Twice deer ran into the side of my van, causing minor damage.

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