Sunday, July 09, 2017

Where are the critters?

One thing that I am beginning to find especially disturbing these days is the almost complete lack of wildlife I am seeing when I go hiking and backpacking here in NC. Yes, I tend to go to very wild places where the animals are not accustomed to humans. And such animals are likely to be far more shy than critters who regularly encounter people.

However, I do a lot of exploring in wilderness areas and National Forest lands far off the beaten path. In years past I would see a fair number of wild animals. Over the past couple of years I am seeing almost none.

Take my backpacking trip last week into the Linville Gorge Wilderness. Now, that's a heavily visited wild area, but it wasn't what I would call crowded while I was there. My hike out I saw only a couple of people, and I didn't see one other person camping on Shortoff Mountain the night I stayed there.

Keep in mind that the title for my YouTube channel is "the Quiet Hiker" for a reason. I hike and backpack alone. I don't even talk to myself. If my sinuses are bothering me a lot I might breathe heavily, but that's about the only sound I make. Because of my quiet behavior I should see a fair number of wild animals. But...nothin'.

On my trip from Table Rock to Shortoff and back (about 12 miles round-trip) I saw one toad, one fence lizard...and nothing else. I didn't even see any birds. I heard some birds calling, but didn't see any. Not one. Not even a buzzard or a raven or a junco--birds that are pretty common when I go into the forests.

By this time, it can't just be the luck of the draw. I'm not seeing wildlife because populations are diminishing. It's very disturbing.

Lots of scenery. No animals.

The Black Mountains. Two days, one night. I saw zero wildlife, despite seeing no other humans.

The last time I encountered an animal of note while hiking--a grouse in Virginia over a year ago. Many, many miles hiked and backpacked since then.

A wilderness landscape absent animals.

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