BMT 2020: Day 5, Indian Rock Shelter to Double Hogpen Gap

Who let the dogs out?

Just Awesome and Tengo Hambre

I didn’t sleep well last night, but I'm not sure why. Perhaps yesterday's hiking was too easy. It wasn't strenuous, so I didn't feel tired when I went to bed. And though I eventually fell asleep, I had difficulty staying that way.

Maybe I was a little too warm. My 22ºF quilt might have been too lofty for the conditions last night. It suited me well on the PCT, but I was in a much different elevation and climate there.

DateMonday, October 26, 2020
WeatherPartly cloudy for most of the day, becoming cloudy late afternoon; high near 70, low in the mid-50s
Trail ConditionsMore road walking, then occasional small rocks covered by leaves; many ups and downs (as usual)
Today's Miles14.2
Trip Miles66.6

I had set my alarm a little earlier than the previous three mornings, intending to not leave camp as late as we had been doing. We ended up leaving at 8:15 a.m. Though this was earlier, the time was still much later than I would usually get started on the AT or PCT. Still, with sunrise happening later now, 8:15 was good enough.

By that time, Sasquatch was already gone. He said he was anxious about the weather forecast and wanted to put in as many miles as possible.

The forecast said a tropical storm was heading north and would dump a lot of rain on us in a couple more days.

Tengo Hambre and Just Awesome on the Benton MacKaye Trail

We started by climbing the trail out of the gully where the shelter was located. This put us back on one of the roads that snaked through the subdivision of vacation cabins. Along the way, we met and chatted with some residents who were walking their dogs.

Walking past a cabin

Near the end of the subdivision, the trail turned onto what appeared to be a driveway. Walking so close to a cabin seemed a bit intrusive, but we were just following where the blazes and navigation app told us to go.

A view with low clouds in the distance

After finally walking on a real trail, we went up and over a ridge. The trees near the top were thinned out enough to open a long-distance view of other ridges. Between them were low clouds, filling the gaps like misty seas surrounding islands.

Leaves scattered on a trail

From the ridge top, the leaf-covered trail dropped steeply. We descended 500 feet, with the last part of this section following an old logging road.

Boardtown Road

Boardtown Road was at the bottom of the descent. Another 2.6-mile section of road walking began here, though it seemed much longer than that. We walked past several homes and farms.

Some comments posted in the Guthook app warned about loose dogs on this road. One hiker reported being bitten by a pit bull. Seeing these comments, we were wary about every house we passed.

More than one yard did, in fact, have dogs. Though they barked and appeared to be aggressive, they remained behind fences.

A barn with Trump banners

We also saw several reminders that we were in Trump country. One notable sign showed Donald Trump standing paradoxically nonchalant and triumphant on the top of a military tank. He was posed with an assault weapon in one hand and the other casually in a pocket. The artist took some obvious liberties in the portrait, including making Trump appear at least 50 pounds thinner.

As we walked along the road, Tengo began to lag behind again, similar to the way he did a couple days ago on our previous road walk. He's generally a strong hiker, but these roads seemed to sap energy from him.

Roaming dogs

Where the trail finally left the road, the turn wasn't obviously marked. I stopped a short distance past here because I wanted to make sure Tengo saw the turn. As I feared, he missed it but didn’t go much further down the road. When he caught up, he told me he realized he missed the turn when he didn’t see me ahead.

A short distance after we resumed hiking, we heard barking dogs, and they were closing in on us fast. Were these the dogs other hikers had warned about? Though alarmed at first, we soon relaxed when the three dogs surrounded us, still barking but with wagging tails.

Tengo with the friendly dogs

They weren't just friendly, they were looking for playmates. Even though we tried not to encourage them, they followed us as we continued walking down the trail.

The dogs stopped when we stopped, then walked with us as soon as we began walking again. We hoped they would tire of us before long and return home, but they never did.

JA with the stray dogs

This went on for nearly two miles before we saw JA, who had stopped for a break. The dogs greeted him affectionately.

We explained to JA how the dogs kept following us. They had collars, so we knew they had a home. This made us concerned they might get lost in the woods. It's not uncommon to find dogs in these mountains that have been separated from their owners, though they are usually hunting dogs. The ones that latched onto us were not.

Tengo had continued down the trail with one of the dogs following him, while JA and I discussed the circumstances we were facing. We feared the dogs would try to follow us indefinitely. Then JA found a phone number engraved on the collar of one of the dogs. Thankfully, we had cell reception here, so he called the number.

When the dogs' owner answered, he asked JA if we could “run them back.” Uh, no. We weren't going to hike two miles back, JA politely explained.

Then the owner suggested we should be mean to the dogs. If we yelled at them to go home, they will. He added that we should throw sticks at them if we have to.

We were unwilling to throw anything at them, but we did start yelling at the two dogs. They were hesitant at first, but after more yelling and harassing, they finally got the message and ran off.

The third dog was still with Tengo up the trail, though, and now they were out of sight. We tried to call out to him but got no response.

One dog will not leave

JA then ran to catch up to Tengo and the other dog. After explaining what the owner had said, we all yelled at her to go home. That seemed to work, so we began to walk again.

Soon, JA and Tengo were ahead of me. Then the female dog returned. I was able to chase her off again, but in the commotion I caused, JA became alarmed. He returned to check on me.

We are finally walking without dogs trailing behind

At last, after dealing with the dogs for more than an hour, we were finally able to walk without them tagging along.

Taking a lunch break on the trail

We continued walking for another hour before we were convinced they wouldn't return, then we stopped for lunch. Eating would have been difficult if those dogs were still with us.

A view through trees

Since we left the road this morning, the trail had gone mostly uphill. First, it climbed steadily up Bear Den Mountain. Then it began a series of ups and downs. These were deceptive because I didn't think there was much elevation gain until I began to get tired.

The other clue that I was still climbing came when one of the few gaps between trees appeared. It was surprising to see how high I had gone.

A stop to filter water

I thought I was falling far behind Tengo and JA, but then realized I hadn't when I came to a small stream. They had just arrived there a couple of minutes before me.

We filtered water, then started another big climb. This one went up more than 600 feet in 1.5 miles to the top of Fowler Mountain. It was strenuous enough that I had to stop a moment to rest on a log.

A sign with teeth marks

The ups and downs continued after cresting Fowler Mountain. Along the way, I noticed a sign. It said this section of the trail was in a wildlife management area. From the looks of the teeth marks, the local wildlife knew this designation was really a euphemism given for hunting grounds.

Fog moves in at Double Hogpen Gap

By the time I reached Double Hogpen Gap, the time was 5:45 p.m. This was later than I expected to arrive, but then again, the climbing was more difficult than I knew about.

The night was much cooler than last night. A thin fog appeared for a short time before sunset, then disappeared as the temperature continued to drop.

When I first arrived and set up camp, I took off my shirt because it was wet with sweat. I didn't remember I had hung it on a tree until 10:45 p.m. The shirt wasn't going to get any drier outside, so I got up and brought it into my tent.

I hoped my body heat overnight would help to dry it out. There are few things worse in the morning than putting on a cold, wet shirt.

Well, the party was nice
The party was pumpin'
Yippie yi yo
And everybody havin' a ball
Yippie yi yo

I tell the fellas start the name callin'
Yippie yi yo
And the girls respond to the call
I heard a woman shout out

Who let the dogs out?
Who, who, who, who, who?
Who let the dogs out?
Who, who, who, who, who?

Who let the dogs out?
Who, who, who, who, who?
Who let the dogs out?
Who, who, who, who, who?


"Nothing to tell now. Let the words be yours, I'm done with mine."ref.