I connected back with the trail at Newfound Gap from Gatlinburg. There is an exceptional cliff view you can climb out on along the way.
I continue to encounter great people along the way.
I’m not feeling so hot… this image depicts how I’m feeling right now.
I did have the opportunity to talk to a Ridge Runner. I asked her all sorts of questions about her job, mileage, and bears. I found the process of how they attempt to reintegrate black bears most interesting.
The short of it goes like this, the bear is tranquilized and secured. The bear receives a tattoo on the inside of the lip and is tagged. Then a rear molar is removed and various testing is done for age and health.
Lastly human scent is covered all over the bear and upon waking it is either tazed or shot with paintballs.
The thinking is that between the sore mouth and ensuing pain, the bear associates that experience with humans and avoids them. Collins shelter was closed because the bear took up residence in the shelter itself. This bear is likely due up for a round of rehabilitation. Game cameras have been setup and the bear is being monitored. They don’t make the decision lightly.
The treatment may sound harsh, but it is saving the bears life and re-educating it to have freedom again, with safety for us in mind as well.
The night of day 5 was rough. I ended staying behind at Peck’s Corner Shelter and taking a sick day in my tent the entirety of Day 6.