National Forest Service gets reports of mysterious tree deaths:
My trail family has started deeming my ability to get “trail magic” the ‘Bookie Effect’. This came about after our stay in Hot Springs, NC, where I was hooked up with farm fresh cheese, a car for the day, and a birthday dinner. It seemed my bright smile, innocent demeanor, and love for life was contagious with the town folks. The group encouraged me to use this strength whenever they deemed it might be beneficial to themselves, or me.
After a couple weeks of good laughs regarding how this worked, or didn’t, it started to morph. Our group had just returned to the AT from Trail Days and we were regaining our trail legs. I had taken the lead, typically I hold a good even pace, and the other three, Rikki Tikki, Scribe, and Older Dog, were strung out behind me. Well as things go, I was a little gassy, and I happened to crop dust the group, unexpectedly of course. I didn’t think much of it as it was such a small escapee.
The sudden accusation of crop dusting from the crew 20 feet behind me had me blushing, giggling, and blaming No Shame (my dog) for what was apparently a foul odor wafting around behind us. Being a kind soul, who was extremely embarrased, I dropped to the back of the group so as to not subject them to this experience again.
Throughout the following day there was much laughter, teasing and flatulation within our group. It was a long day of hiking , especially after 6 days without a full pack on. We covered more than 10 miles and had over a 4000 foot elevation gain. Despite the climb, our views were limited and with only a quarter mile to go Roan High Shelter awaited us, the highest shelter on the AT. Again being the sweet soul I am I had dropped to the back of the group, I also didn’t want a repeat of the prior day. I was more than 50 feet behind Rikki Tikki, who had just ducked off the main trail up to the shelter, when I heard the gasping, sputtering, and laughter rolling through the trees.
Apparently the wind was blowing in just the right direction to send the noxious fumes through the trees and almost drop Rikki Tikki to his knees. Scribe ten feet behind him had the pleasure of watching Rikki go through a myriad of facial expressions while stumbling to keep his feet beneath himself.
Over the course of the evening I was the brunt of the jokes. No one would sit near me for fear of the sudden death of their meal, or just residual effects. While setting up my tent I was aware of wind direction and possible fall out if it was a rough night. Don’t get me wrong when Rikki Tikki called me out during a wind change I pretended not to hear him, I’m not a complete angel.
Come morning, traveling down the same trail I was reminded that just 12 hours prior this used to be a beautiful trail, the trees were green and the birds were singing, and Rikki Tikki was able to breath. But there was this new thing travelling north along the AT and the National Forest Service was calling it the ‘Bookie Effect’.