We just received a note from Kimberly Donoghue and her Irish Wolfhound mix, Oliver. Together, they have been thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail all summer. Kimberly took a moment while in Caratunk, ME to send us an update and her favorite memory so far. We hope you enjoy!
AT 2014: Animal friends
Chirping, whistling, and singing … the birds certainly are lively this morning. I roll over and eye Oliver, my Irish wolfhound mix, who insists on sleeping with his legs stick-straight taking up as much room in the tent as possible. He lifts his head up, returns my gaze, then promptly lets his head drop back down — he’s not a “morning dog.” And so begins my daily routine. For the past couple of months, my days are all the same but, at the same time, entirely different. I begin deflating my sleeping bag, warming my coffee, taking down the tent. Oliver knows it’s his turn to get up when I unwind him from my sleeping bag. He gives a big yawn and begins his doggy yoga session. (It’s important to strech, you know).
We are the first ones out of camp in the mornings. One or two sleepy hikers will make it out to give us a quick “Have a good hike” before we tramp off for the day. Dawn is my favorite time of day; the woods awaken slowly as the sun nestles its way into the green tunnel – a single ray makes its way all the way to the forest floor, softly illuminating a patch of moss.
Oliver and I spend all our days walking – up mountains, down mountains, along roads and pine needle forest floors, over boulders and rock-hopping across streams…and so is the life of an Appalachian Trail thru-hiker and her dog.
My favorite moment happened right out of Harpers Ferry, VA. We were somewhere in Maryland, on a 23 mile hike that day, and an afternoon sun shower dampened the greenery around us, but not our spirits. We hadn’t seen another human all day. Suddenly, I hear something running along the path toward us. We pause and suddenly a beautiful baby fawn appears around the bend – still young enough to have an ungainly gate. She stops and stares curiously at us. It was as if she had heard us coming and run over to greet her new friend! I look down at Oliver who is stock-still looking back at the sweet fawn. There certainly were some similarities between the two – long nose, brown eyes, four legs, and a body made for speed. Had Oliver found a new playmate? I stood watching the two animals of different species interact. Oliver’s instincts eventually got the best of him and he moved toward her. She ran off as quickly – albeit slightly wobbly – as she had come.
– Kimberly Donoghue