Laudizen King Banner gathered along the way
long road home Signposts and Junctions      

Little Thieves

Little Thieves


Experience is a dear teacher. This is especially true when describing the knowledge one obtains first hand in the mountains. I recall one of my early overnight hikes in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, a two-night adventure into the Zealand Notch area. The trip began at a trailhead located at the terminus of the Zealand Road. After a few miles, the trail ended at a junction with the Appalachian Trail. Here the hiker could diverge right for Galehead Hut on the Twinway Trail (part of the AT south) or continue straight ahead on the Ethan Pond Trail (part of the AT north).

I continued north on the AT. After hiking in a southerly direction through the broad scenic notch, the trail veered to the east and I followed it until a short spur-trail branched off to the left and this led me to the open-faced shelter at Ethan Pond. It was rainy and cold when I arrived at the deserted camp; other friends planned a rendezvous with me at Ethan Pond but they had not yet arrived.

The wooden shelter was dry and inviting, and I claimed a prime spot by laying out my sleeping pad on the floor in a corner of the structure and propped my backpack against the wall. From the pack, I removed dry clothes, cooking equipment, toilet paper wrapped in plastic, and a flask of brandy, all of which I placed on the sleeping pad. Before putting on dry clothes and making a hot drink, I decided to take my folding saw and secure some firewood before it got dark. After foraging long pieces of dead trees, I cut them into campfire length and stacked the wood along the outside wall of the shelter protected from the rain.

Back within the dry comfort of the covered platform, I found that the local mice had already stolen all of my toilet paper! All that remained was the empty plastic and a few paper shreds strewn about the floor as a testament to mark their passing. Being inexperienced, I did not know that those little bastards targeted paper to line and insulate their nests. The small mice that inhabit such places are voracious scavengers and prodigious thieves, and they performed this brazen act in just a few minutes during daylight hours.

My friends arrived soon after and between them, we had enough extra TP to carry us all through our trip. However, after that first encounter, I paid a lot more attention to how I stored my gear and provisions in the mountains of the Northeast, be it tent, shelter, or hut.



Laudizen King
Modesto, CA
May 2012