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Don't feed the ponies!

By Cathy Brazzell

MAP LENGTH: 5 miles SKILL: Novice - Intermediate

PROS: Views, wild ponies   CONS: Crowds

WATER: At Wilson Creek   NOTES: The shelter mentioned is new and not on the map yet.  The A.T. in the Jefferson National Forest Va. 

A hike on the balds 

On my first backpacking trip to the Mt. Rogers Recreation Area, I saw cutest little brown and white pony. I instantly fell in love with it. My husband said loudly DON'T FEED THE PONY, so I didn't. I just petted him for a while.









Cute, isn't he!

We went up the trail for a couple of miles and he stayed with us. When we reached another group of ponies, he took a break with us as we petted other ponies.  As we walked he kept sniffing my pack as if he was hungry. He never strayed from my side.   After a short break we traveled another half mile and reached the shelter.

When we got to the shelter it was time to eat so started to fix supper. As we laid out the food we were preparing, the brown pony started to circle the table. After the pony watched us eat our supper I couldn't stand those sad eyes any longer. I gave him some raisins.











Licking the pudding from the picnic table

We walked to the spring to filter some water. We left our packs and gear un-guarded on the picnic table. When we returned the pony had helped himself to the chocolate pudding in my husbands pack. It was quite a sight, the brown pony had pudding all over his face ! He also managed to spread the dark powder all over the picnic table. 

We were packing up our gear to hit the trail when my husband noticed a large black cloud over a nearby peak. We decided to wait out the storm at this shelter. Like a shark that smells blood, the pony was even more interested in the contents of our pack. My husband had to keep chasing him from the picnic table.










The pony and our dog "Blackie"

It was a good thing that we decided to stay in the shelter. The storm that followed the black cloud was extreme. The wind blew violently for several hours. Finally , around 11 PM the storm subsided. Just as we were drifting off to sleep we were awakened by a noise. It was the brown pony ! Again he was trying to get into our things. Again my husband chased him off.

My husband was getting very irate so he decided to build a fence to keep the pony out. He gathered the branches and downed trees that surrounded the shelter. After some effort he built a sturdy fence.



Once again , as we drifted off to sleep the pony returned.  We heard a noise and this time he was trying to get under the fence. As he was crawling under the makeshift fence one of the logs fell on his back. He tried to shake it off but the log stayed with him. He started bucking and the log flew off of his back. He took off in a panic and we didn't see him for the rest of the night.

In the morning we cooked a big breakfast and enjoyed the morning mist of the Jefferson National Forest. It didn't take long for the brown pony make an appearance.   Just as we were finishing breakfast he poked his head out of the trees !

We packed our gear up and started hiking back to the trailhead. Our brown pony followed us all of the way back to the State Park. We crossed over the fence, out of the park and away from the pony from hell.


If you ever go to Mt. Rogers    DON'T FEED THE PONIES !

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