2008-09-14 11:10:09.000 – Brian Clark, Observer
I promise, Marty is in this picture!
When Marty, our cat, arrived on the summit back in January, we quickly discovered that he is a very adventurous and curious cat. Since then, I have also discovered that he enjoys following me around with things I do through the day, so much so that I began calling him “my shadow” back in the spring. Almost every day he follows me on the morning “walk-around”, which is when I take a few minutes to walk through the building to make sure everything looks ok and to check certain water, power, and fuel meters. Marty frequently joins me on observations and if I go down to the museum to take something to Sharon he often joins me on that walk, even though the number of people in the main lobby often seems to make him a bit uncomfortable.
Yesterday evening, Marty’s adventurous side and desire to follow me became even more evident.
I decided when my shift ended that I was going down to the Lake of the Clouds hut for the night. It was their last night of guests for the summer, and considering that the weather may not be conducive for a hike the rest of the week, I wanted to head down there and socialize with the Croo one last time for the summer.
As I was leaving, Marty made it very clear that he wanted to go outside by sitting right next to the door to the tower and meowing at Ryan and myself. I told him that I would let him out the front doors on my way out. At the time, I did not worry about him following me because there had been at least one other occasion this summer where I let him out when I left for a hike and he did not follow me.
This time turned out to be very different though. After Marty gracefully leaped and bounded his way down the trail with me for about two-tenths of a mile, I tried to tell him that I was going a long way and he shouldn’t follow me. He didn’t listen….imagine that. I tried turning around several times to get him to follow me back to the summit, but each time he would continue down the trail, gleefully meowing along his way. I also tried to grab him several times. He certainly wasn’t having that.
I finally gave up and accepted the fact that Marty was going to join me on the 1.5 mile hike down to Lakes. At several points much further down the trail I stopped to see if Marty was getting tired and wanted to turn around. Each time I did, he would head right past me down the trail and would actually lead for a little while. I was thoroughly impressed how he was able to follow the trail.
Darkness was setting in once we arrived at the hut. People were milling about outside and I could hear several exclamations of “Is that a cat?!”. A few people asked me if it was my cat and why I had brought it up here with me. Of course, I explained that it was, sort of, my cat but that I worked for the Observatory and we had come from the summit.
It took me about 15 minutes to finally catch Marty and bring him inside. He was certainly not happy having his exploration cut short and I have claw marks on my shoulder to prove it. One of my good friends on the Croo, Kate, had me take him up to a large closed in area in their attic that he couldn’t escape from. That was a perfect place for him to rest (and stay enclosed!) while I figured out how I was going to get him back to the summit.
There was no way I was going to just let the little guy go outside and fend for himself. Marty is a very smart cat, and I am reasonably sure that he would make his way back to the summit, however, I was not even close to willing to take that chance. I needed to decide if I was heading back up that night, in the dark and fog (about two-thirds of the way anyways) or wait for daylight, when higher winds and rain were being forecasted. Marty was actually very content in the attic of the hut. I brought him some water and leftover turkey that the Croo had prepared for the night’s dinner. He quickly chowed that down and began purring and butting his head against me, which he often does when he is happy and wants attention.
Ultimately I decided that it was best to take him to the summit immediately, while the weather was slightly more manageable. I carried him out, just a short way away from the hut and put him down. In the same way he followed me down the trail, he followed me back up. A couple times he decided he was tired and laid down in the trail. When this happened, I simply picked him up and gave him a ride for a little bit. Eventually, he would start squirming, I would put him down and he would continue to follow me. The little bell on his color, which has earned him the nickname “Tink-tink” on our shift, was very helpful in keeping track of him. The way his eyes glow in the light of my headlamp was also helpful. It took us just a little over an hour to make the trip back up, which I thought was pretty good considering that it would normally take me a half an hour to 40 minutes by myself.
In the end, everything turned out fine and Marty was safe and sound back at home on the summit. Quite an adventure for a kitty, although I hear he is not the first Observatory cat to go for a hike.
Needless to say, Marty was in dire need of a nap when we got back. So much so that it didn’t matter where!
Brian Clark, Observer