An awkward moment on the trail

So we’re hiking to Grotto Falls in Great Smoky Mountains National Park when my sister-in-law Dawn spots something in the bushes about 20 feet above us.

“What is that up there – a piece of trash?”

“Hey, it’s moving! Think it’s a bear?”

Next thing you know, seven or eight of us are peering intently into the brush, abuzz with speculation. Until it occurs to us that the activity up above is … somebody taking a crap in the woods.

Even worse, it turns out that just around the bend is one half of a couple we met earlier on the trail. They told us they were their way up to Mount LeConte, elevation 6,594 feet. They planned to spend the night at the summit and climb down on Wednesday.

Now the guy carrying the big pack is not only acting like we’ve never met, he’s trying very hard to pretend we’re not there.

His wife is nowhere to be seen.

As it turned out, we did see a couple of bears on Tuesday’s hike: A mother with three cubs just before we got to the trailhead, and a lone adult just below the trail, not far from the false alarm.

Presumably the black bears we spotted are much more experienced at taking a crap in the woods.

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The kids dry off under Grotto Falls after everybody got soaked in a brief rainstorm.

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