Clinic Stories

The Mice Who Came to Dinner

November 28, 2011 brought an early taste of winter to the north Georgia mountains. Forty mile an hour winds blew a 3freezing horizontal rain since dawn. Now after sunset a sign pointed to the Low Gap Shelter, one of the hundreds of lean to's along the Appalachian Trail that offered some relief from the cold and wet. Forty one miles separated me from completing the entire 2181 mile trail. An odd light glowed in the distance as I made my way through the hazy darkness over fallen trees. In the shelter a lamp shown inside a tent. A couple from Arizona described that day as the most miserable on their six month hike from Maine.

As we spoke through the walls of their tent, I hung my soaking wet gear, prepared a simple dinner, pulled my sleeping bag to my chest, and leaned against the wall to eat. They were inside of their tent on the advice recorded in registers at other shelters. Low Gap Shelter, it was agreed, had the most aggressive mice along the Appalachian Trail. As these words hung in the dampness, a mouse sprinted up my arm, halted on my elbow and stared at the food approaching my mouth. Reflexively I jerked my arm, the mouse flew into the air and landed on my chest at the edge of my sleeping bag. I lost sight of him, uncertain if he had gone into my sleeping bag. Fearful of resting my food on the floor I made a one handed search and was relived that he had run off.

I finished my meal as mice ran boldly just out of my reach then stopped and stared. Their eyes reflected in my head lamp like wolves studying their prey. Through the night the rain pounded on the tin roof and mice ran over my head and sleeping bag. They chewed a hole in my back pack that was suspended from a beam and helped themselves to my rations.

Overnight the wind calmed, the rain turned to snow and the following day I stood on Springer Mountain, GA, the Southern end of the AT, alone and glad of it.

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