I was having a great day on the trail. I got to the shelter that I was planning to stay at (mile 22.2) and looked at my map. It was 6 pm and there were exactly 4 more miles between me and town. Going into town was tempting because it would mean a night in a $20 hiker hotel, a hot shower, and a hot meal.
I thought about it for a second… It would be the most mileage I’d done on this trip, 26.2 miles… exactly a marathon. I was entertained by the idea and still feeling good so I decided to go for it.
I wanted to get into town before dark, so I was booking it down the trail (3+ miles/hour). The terrain was really rocky, so I was focusing on the rocks 3-6 ft in front of me at any given time so that I could do all the fancy footwork necessary to avoid a nose dive.
All of the sudden I saw something in front of me that definitely wasn’t a rock. It was a fully bristled porcupine that clearly had seen me coming and prepared itself for our encounter. I broke my stride and stopped as quickly as I could while shrinking my body backwards away from the barbs. I remembered hearing that there are some species of porcupine that could throw their quills and I desperately hoped that this wasn’t one of those since I was less than four feet away from it.
After the shock of almost tripping on a porcupine, I just stood fascinated and watched it. I wandered what the best way to get around a porcupine in the trail was. As I sat there contemplating, the porcupine turned to the left to look at me, and then to the right, before slowly sauntering down the middle of the trail.
I followed it for about 50 ft before it turned into the woods and I was easily able to pass it. It definitely had added some extra excitement to my marathon day!