Saturday, June 27, 2015

It's a small world

After all, these miles, as the herd continues to thin out and I see only an occasional familiar face if many faces at all I meet some that are famous, humble, extraordinary, close and even closer to home.
A man strides up one morning near a shelter, he's heading south and asks, "have you seen Ghost?" I said "yes he left here about an hour ago." "Do you know who he is?" The stranger adds. This is that stranger:
Who I later learn is the AT celebrity Warren Doyle. Trail name, this year, 34,000 as he has completed the trail 17 times! He has a gig that goes like this: he trains up to about a dozen people per year. The group has two vehicles including a supply van. He and one other drive the 12 or so about 15 miles south leaving behind a vehicle which Warren and one other go back for on foot. All are "slack packing", most are 60+, all reach Maine in 140 days. 
What about Ghost? Well I had been leap frogging this gentlemen since the night of this double rainbow on June 5th;
We keep running into each other and chatting a bit each time. Real nice guy, we hit it off right away. So Warren Doyle tells me Ghost's name is David Startzell and he is the former Executive Director of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy for many years and during a most difficult transition period. Apparently David is very well known and has an outstanding reputation for great success approaching the U.S. Govt to acquire land and funds for this national treasure. 
No it's not Jason Robards, though when I said he could be his stunt double he admitted coming face to face with Jason once in a small diner in Manchester NH.
Hold on, the world is about to get  smaller. It's been a couple weeks now and unfortunately I don't have his pic but here is some evidence I did come across:
Trail Magic by "Scribes" parents.
Not much REAL watermelon left. Real becuz it has seeds. Not only can I hit ur red solo cup at 5 ft (see earlier post) but I can stick a watermelon seed to ur cheek from 6 ft and u may not even know from whence it came! Anywho, back to Scribe. He had been hiking with Star and Bookie:
Star's trail name is No Shame as she begs from everyone. Bookie sports the same back pack as yours truly and being an 8 yr veteran of outdoor youth adventure coordinating totally restructured and re strapped my pack. Scribe at this point was hiking with his dad but not before telling me where he is from. After learning part of the reason for the trail name Sparky he admits being an EMT for 12 yrs. I met him shortly after Mother's Day when he asked where in MD she lives. Well, well, well doesn't Scribe live in Thurmont? Why yes he does! And does he not know the tiny little road of Reed? Why yes he does! To all of you who say you may not really care, my mom has a message just for you from my sis, bro in law, niece and her and unlike those she saved just for her Lenny, this message is suitable for the family channel:
No one in this family survives without a real good sense of humor.
But wait, before the world is made even teeny tinyer itsy bitsy smaller, a quick but worth your while diversion. Several friends and family members have been talking and planning to come out and join me for a time which is an awesome thing. All on the other hand are voicing the same concern about slowing me down etc. which is nonsense. While some out here are definitely trying to go as fast as they can, I gave myself 6 months and remain on target to both reach the goal as well as savor the experience. So to all of you with such concern, please, let Sparky calm your anxiety: think of an old, classical, orchestra tune which will most closely resemble the pace we will enjoy:
Now if u took the time to YouTube or whatever that song, you're still laughing. If not, there's an angst in ur heart that will nag at you till you do. We will wait for you here while enjoying a pictorial interlude;
Not all "prepared" foods are equal;
Okay, all back on the same page?
Let's see how much smaller this world can get. Trent's grocery, middle of no where. Sitting outside getting ready to get back on trail. Young hiker walks up, tells of travails having fallen into the river with pack and phone at Dismal "Falls". Says his trail name is Dapper Dan. To which my immediate response is: "I don't want any damn Fop, I'm a dapper dan man!" This grabs his attention so I add: "watch the language young man". Lines from a classic movie based on a classic book and no I shall not give you all the answers. We strike a cord to which he asks where I'm from. "Western Mass" I said. "Oh really", he perks up "near Springfield?" "Yes, as a netter of fact" I responded. He says, "I'm actually from West Springfield." "No way," I countered, "that's where I grew up". He says: "you know rte 20?" "Heck yeah, I lived 23 years on Poplar Ave." I exclaimed.
"Wow" he says, "I live on Pilgrim Ave" 
Meet Dapper Dan Labbe who worked at Ye Ole Butchershop and lives two streets away from where we grew up! It's a small world indeed, but I wouldn't want to paint it (Steven Wright). Haven't seen Dan since June 9 but he is a new FB friend.
In closing, in light of recent events, my reading and listening have led to Isaiha and Romans Chapter 1. Apparently what some consider a fairy tale and/or out of date. My Audio Audible currently is Foxes Book of Martyrs, a book once chained to the pew next to the Bible in England. Not for the faint of heart.
Thank you all for your continued encouragements I'm very thankful and glad that you're enjoying these posts. As many learn of my daily prayer list, it is growing. I also know that I am on the receiving end.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Bet you never saw one of these!!!

A real live, black, backward bowling and rolling, Dung Beetle! Yep that's a big fat piece of poop and he loves it and eats it and covets it and rolls it and broods in it and lives with it! 
According to wiki???...Dung beetles are currently the only known animal to navigate and orient themselves using the Milky Way.
Probably second only to Katahdin, McAfee Knob is a most photographed and featured AT site.
Wanna see a cartwheel?
Oooooooohhhhhh!!!! Jk, how cud I be writing this if I did it that way ya knuckleface?
How about the totally original never been done before first time ever preparing for a swan dive pose?
How about 27 more pics of McAfees Knob? Naaaa just one more from it:
This is called Fire Pink and it has 5 "snake tongue" petals.
This one is called Turks Cap Lily:

Hey "Professor" Keebler! I'm starvin out here why don't you bring me some of those cookies you been bragging about all these years!
Aaaahhh hellooo!!! I know you can hear me! Send a couple of your so called "elves" out here before I come in there and start poppin heads like those little alien mushrooms (accidentally left behind in future days past by a crew member of the starship "Enterprise" after before a visit to the Andromeda sector) that pfffft a yellow smoke when you step on them..
Last chance pal or I'm callin the Dept of Labor to check out whatever the heck ur doin in there:
Smooth move, Dept of Labor got ur attention didn't it?! Freaky man.
Speaking of mushrooms, check out this mighty mushroom, with a little panache sporting a lil handle bar moustach:
Seen enough for today? I don't think so. Again, 2 places at once. 
That pic was taken by a thruhiker I saw for 5 minutes and likely never again, his name is Diesel, he started like May yesterday and never stops. I've been running into (being passed is more like it) many who started in May and are doing upwards of 25 miles daily! That's crazy but different strokes for different folks I guess. Like D.O.D. would say "that's why Friendly's makes 28 flavor a of ice cream, we don't all like vanilla." I guess he said Howard Johnsons to my older sisters but I don't even know what that is. Haha
So there are many people with various reasons for being out here, I have several myself. A friend named Gail who I worked with on a Domestic Violence Awareness project(it's rampant in the Hilltowns) a couple years ago has a brother who thru hiked the AT and described it as "hiking with God". That's definitely one reason:
"Maintain a listening attitude". That's easier said than done isn't it.

Friday, June 19, 2015


Let's see, what shall we learn about today gang? Virginia is rugged, rocky, ridiculously hot and humid, absolutely beautiful and I haven't even reached Shenandoah.
I've got lots of pics.
Another visitor, see her?
Sometimes I'm the visitor.
The concerned look on my face has to do with the direction I must go, the horns on the cows heads and the color of my shirt! 
Speaking of cows (1st notice bandana on neck in above pic), you must decide; a holy cow or beef jerk(y). One morning several ago I just had it in my head by like 10:30 it was gonna be a not so good day, like a Monday ya know, bla, slow, poor night's sleep and awoke on the wrong side of the tent. No lie, at around 1:30 I'm strollin along and pass what I think is just a small old dirty rag on the trail. Within a step I stop, reach back with trek pole to pick at it enough to see its a bandana. It's not a rag, it's not even dirty. Furthermore as I pick it up it occurs to me I may actually know who lost it. Her name is "Notes" from Norwood Mass. As I check it out, look what I see on this otherwise draggy day:
Incredible! The timing uncanny. I knew Notes was a Christian and when she asked me how I knew, before she told me, I said it was because she shines the light. Sometimes it's not hard to tell right?
But I find this item and look at the message. I wore it for weeks. 
What does this have to do with a cow you ask? One more thing before that; the tree.
The Kefer Oak is the largest, oldest tree on the AT south of the Mason Dixon line.
It's 300 yrs old and 18ft around the base.
Story has it I am actually the first person to strike this pose which is why I don't have the sarcastic holding up the leaning tower of Pisa face.
I so love the tree that I decide to camp under it not realizing (aside from the cow patties) that I was intruding on others turf.
Wakey wakey time for breaky breaky! 
Scuse me, do you have any idea how hungry I am? Yo! "STEP AWAY FROM THE TENT!"
Then there were more.
By now they're literally encircling my space and encroaching while I try to heard them off with my trekking poles. Notice my clothesline.
So much for a relaxing cup-o-joe before packin n trackin. Now this is where you must decide, holy cow or beef jerk(y). The big black cow has a tag on its ear with a big # 50 written on it, as in fiddy. Tough guy. Doesn't fiddy waltz right up to the clothes line, with socks, undies, shorts, shirts etc stick out his big fat toungue for my favorite bandana and proceed to inhale it! Sucked it right down, gone, bye bye. Jerk. Dumb cow. I tell ya it's that Sparky nectar.
The critters just can't get enough.
I've come upon several monuments so far.
There are 5 spokes on this one, want to guess them?
A military plane crash, debris left behind since the mid 80's:

Another monument, this one was powerful and obviously visited frequently. It is to the most decorated WWII veteran Audie Murphy. (Next 3 pics)

Not sure you can see this, it's right next to Audie Murphy' and next to it is a wrist band honoring an Iraqi vet.
Speaking of monuments, I finished and would recommend the documentary by Kirk Cameron called Monumental, especially if you have an interest in early American history. Also, I just finished listening to a very interesting book that came out last year called The Return of Washington by Edward Larson. It chronicals his days between the Revolutionary War and the start of his Presidency. A critical time as Washington oversaw the development of the Constitution.
Correction: Marissa did actually answer the bug vs windshield riddle. 
No one, on the other hand, reasonably deduced that the 3 different logs, like this one;
Are above the knee and therefore favorite places to rest, ergo no bark nor moss.
So many more pics and stories to tell. Please stay tuned.
"There are no limits..."

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