My 28-mile Xtreme hike of Dolly Sods, West Virginia is about to be de-railed by SQUIRREL HUNTERS.
Two years ago, our Xtreme Hike covered 31 miles of Massanutten Mountain on the first day of bear hunting season. Considering that my eyeballs are the only part of my body without hair, there was probably a slim risk that a bear hunter could mistake me as their potential trophy. To ensure our safety, we wore fluorescent orange bibs that bears wouldn't normally wear-- and 100% of the hikers lived. None of us were shot, or even encountered a hunter. It was a great day.
|Not a Bear|
A few days ago, the Xtreme hikers learned that the final hike was being moved from Saturday, September 12 because it's the first day of West Virginia's squirrel hunting season. The National Board of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation didn't think it would be safe for us to hike during squirrel hunting season. Instead, the hike will be held on SUNDAY, September 13, because it's illegal to hunt rodents on the Lord's Day. Personally, the new date is presenting some significant logistical challenges-- and Di has had to back out of volunteering at the aide stations. The entire situation is unfortunate, frustrating, and confusing. The only way I'm able to deal with this SNAFU is to vent on this blog (and to a few CFF employees who accidentally gave me their email). It's Festivus in August, which means it's time for the Airing of the Grievances.
Grievance #1: There's a season for squirrel hunting?? Shooting squirrels for food seems like a lot of effort, especially for people who would normally scrape them off the asphalt the other nine months of the year. Imagine how many squirrels it takes to feed a family at Thanksgiving. There would be a squirrel holocaust to feed one West Virginian adult. And please don't argue that squirrels are tasty, because they aren't unless you're my grandmother, my dog, someone lost in the woods and eating them for survival, or the resident Fox News chef: "I'm happy to say I have crossed over and become one of those Americans. Eating squirrel that I've harvested with my own hands, in fact, makes me feel distinctly more American and undoubtedly more human"
Grievance #2: There are people who enjoy hunting squirrels?! Apparently, there are 1.8 million squirrel hunters in America, which makes me wonder, "How can I get Canadian citizenship?" At least I can understand why people go after big game. It's a challenge to hunt large, wild animals (unless you pay a dude $55k to open a zoo gate to let a lion out). But c'mon... squirrels?! Where's the thrill in hunting down the most over-populated rodent in suburbia. It's like going to the beach and hunting sea gulls. On any given day, there are no fewer than 37 squirrels in my yard, but I've never ever thought of putting on camo and stalking them from my backyard squirrel blind.
|Big Game Hunter|
Grievance #3: I AM NOT A DAMN SQUIRREL. I'm over 4 feet taller than the average squirrel. I weigh 100 times the average weight of a squirrel. My teeth are not bucked --thanks to six years of orthodontics. Squirrels have gray hair....shit...just ignore that. They have beady, little black eyes, and mine are a mysterious shade of hazel. I bite my fingernails, and they have claws. Unless Stevie Wonder is on a squirrel hunting expedition this Fall, there's absolutely no way I'm being mistaken for a squirrel. (correction: meth heads with rifles could mistake me as a squirrel...assuming there might be a few meth heads with rifles in West Virginia, then the national CFF board could have a valid safety concern).
So there you have it: My 28-mile hike is in jeopardy because crazy people hunt tree rats and may mistake me for one. America.
The local CFF team is working behind-the-scenes to accommodate us losers who have children and jobs, and I'm going to make my best effort to hike with the rest of the VA Chapter on September 13. No matter what, I'm hiking--I'm just not sure where or when. Regardless, please support the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation by making a donation : fightcf.cff.org/goto/seaborn