Sunday, August 14, 2011

Chapter 130: A Slackpacking Jones

August 5,

The Whites are over. Hut hopping was fun and fruitful, although the experience was somewhat diminished by the preponderance of obnoxious south-bounders, the Worst People in the World®. SOBOs are arrogant, they eat too much, and they're ugly.

I slackpacked for the first (and probably last) time the other day. I take back nothing I've ever said about slackpackers.

And I wouldn't have done it except for being stricken with a severe case of the lazies.
Shocked? Outraged? Don't believe me? Let me explain.

Twizzler and I never really got along. Maybe it was because he was younger, faster, and stronger than I was, and I resented him for it. Or, maybe it was because he complained constantly about how the trail was too easy, and how the mountains were so much better in his native Israel. Which was—needless to say—deeply annoying, and deflating.

But at least he had a sense of humor. Buckeye used to make fun of him for prefacing everything he said with, "In Israel..." And for asking "But do they have bagels there?" whenever we proposed going anywhere. And Twizzler laughed, which made everything easier.

Still, the day we came down off of Madison, Twizzler had sprinted ahead of us in his typically brazen, boulder-jumping fashion. I felt terrible about ditching him, but I simply lacked the patience, and energy, to keep up. Plus the skies were darkening ominously, and it seemed almost certain that it would, well, drizzle. None of my other companions—Veggie, Fredo, and Buckeye—seemed exactly enthusiastic about climbing over Wildcat in the rain. So we didn't. We gave up, and hitched a ride into Gorham, New Hampshire, to stay at the White Birches campground.

Apparently discouraged by our sudden and unannounced disappearance, however, Twizzler decided to end his hike prematurely the very next day. At the very same time we were slackpacking to catch up with him, he was hitching a ride back to Manchester Center, Vermont, where he could catch a bus back to Boston. So he left. And we never saw him again.

Anyway, that's how we lost Twizzler and ended up slackpacking.

It wasn't because we were lazy and were looking forward to a day spent zeroing at the White Birches, drinking beer, watching VH1, and going swimming in the in-ground pool. It was because of our fierce sense of loyalty. Of companionship. We slackpacked because we never leave a man or woman behind. I mean, did we zero, and do all of those other things I mentioned? Yes, but that's incidental.

Oh, and none of the Whites were as much unadulterated fun as South Kinsman, although Wildcat came close.

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