This morning I saw another bear. He saw me first and did what was best for both he and I: he ran away as fast as his furry black legs could take him.
Bears in this area have good reason to flee humans as quickly as possible. Yesterday, as I crossed the Park boundary, I met three good ole boys with a pickup load of kennelled dogs. I asked them if they were hunting, and they responded "Yep, for bear." As a social curtesy I wished them good luck, but my sympathy lay entirely with the bear. Who would want to be pursued by a pack of baying hounds until you seek sanctuary in a tree, only to be shot at close range? I have also been told that wild boar are hunted with dogs. Pit bulls are used: they immobilize the pig by grabbing its ears and limbs until the hunter finishes it off with a gun. The truly macho reputedly kill the restrained pig with a knife.
Blood sports are big in this region in a way that is excessive even by rural Canadian standards. Everyone seems to like to hunt, often in ways that would not be legal at home, such as the use of bait or dogs. I have been in a few sporting goods stores and they are typically a disturbing collection of firearms and survivalist paraphernalia.
Yesterday I noticed that the soles of my boots are separating from the uppers. I was 30 miles from the next town and I do not have a second pair of footwear. This development was therefore a concern. I quickly threw a couple of wraps of medical adhesive tape around the toe of the worst boot, and walked carefully to the next shelter. Fortunately, a couple at the shelter gave me a small roll of bright yellow duct tape. I am now only 13 miles from town and I think I should be able to limp in.
I had an unexpected treat at the end of the day today: an apple tree with fruit on it. It is an enormous tree standing by itself only 100 metres from the Walnut Mountain Shelter. I picked a number of apples, and threw a couple of them into the instant oatmeal I had for dinner (I'm running out of food). It was delicious. Fresh fruit and vegetables are a rare delight on the trail, because they are just too heavy to pack.