On my way out of Pine Grove Furannce, I passed the unofficial Midpoint Marker, erected by a thru-hiker in 1985. Of course, I had passed the real Midpoint earlier that morning, just after receiving trail magic at the Toms Run Shelters. And how did it feel? Well, I might've been eating a candy bar at the time, so... That about sums that up.
I believe I was in a great mood as I approached the James Frye Shelter at Tagg Run, courtesy of stepping in a mud puddle up to my knee. I might've even cheered myself up some by calling my friends back home, to remind them that I was still alive, and that, yes, I was actually hiking the trail, and that, no, it wasn't all just an elaborate ruse designed solely to excuse myself from all my unwanted social obligations. And that, no, I wasn't losing my mind. So that was nice. Except for not at all.
The party atmosphere that had prevailed at Pine Grove Furnace followed me to the James Frye Shelter. All the familiar faces were there. Ridley and Panther. Merf. Cornpatch. Two alumni thru-hikers, with a cooler of beer. As if we hadn't been treated to enough that day. What am I saying? Of course we hadn't had enough trail magic. When you can ever have enough trail magic? Plus they had Budweiser, which is just as good as beer, and always appreciated. Ridley, Panther and I all had cold ones. Merf may have abstained. Probably wise.
The was only one beer left, and we didn't know what to do with it. Should we have saved it for Dreamcatcher, whom we knew to be on his way? Panther and I reasoned that, since he was only eighteen, we couldn't in good conscience contribute to his delinquency by giving him alcohol. So we split the last beer. Dreamcatcher was rather disappointed when we told him about it, but youngins gotta learn somewhere. Or maybe we were just being jerks.
And maybe we were drunk. It's hard to remember.
I sabotaged Merf's registry entry:
Wishing I had a little something more to add to my couscous, like some marijana! <-(Thank you, M.C.) Thinking more like raisins + onions + carrots + potatoes (+ pot) + chicken. But hey, bland is good too. And it was free. Free is good. But you know what's better? Free pot brownies! Woo! Speaking of pot... here I come privy!!And then Ridley, Merf, Panther and I collaborated on a poem, each taking turns writing a line. I started off:
PS. I like pooping too. - M.C. <-TMI (Ridley)
Twas the night before Sunday, and all through the shelterI remember giving Merf greif for rhyming "feet in" with "eaten," but I digress. While I wish the last line had started "To walk with" instead of "He walked with," I truly believe the Osama bin Laden reference was sublime. It pulled the whole poem together.
The packs were all strewn + thrown, helter skelter
The halfway point was crossed and pictures taken
Along the path rocks were tossed and legs shaken
Beer had been shared, and chocolate donuts eaten
And buckets hauled up w/ epsom salts to soak feet in
stringstrung up and many tents pitched
Food was nearby and many people hitched
Hitched? What the hell? I haven't proposed yet
Instead I've been hiking in the rain, getting wet
In the brush a move was made, and it was a rattlesnake
All hikers smelled rank, for oh heavens sake
So all pulled out clothespins to put on their noses
And then who walked up with two dozen roses?
Out of the woods with a scruffy beard appeared Osama bin Laden
He walked with Ridley, Panther, Merf, + MC to Katahdin
And while I don't recall if it had indeed rained on us while we were hiking, it was raining heavily by the time we went to bed. I pitched my tent some fifty yards behind the shelter, underneath a copse of trees that provided a modicum of cover from the storm. If I had a conscience, I might have felt bad about ribbing Merf's abuse of her poetic license, or for denying Dreamcatcher trail magic. Maybe I did feel bad. Either way, I lay awake for some time, listening to the rain pelt the fabric roof of my tent.