Friday, February 19, 2010

Elves & Etiquette: AT Section 2 Part 2

We made it! Behind schedule and one car abandoned, but nothing could dampen our good cheer except perhaps two heavy backpacks and one steep incline. We crossed the road and found the sacred white trail blazes. Good-bye parking lot near Lee, MA. We were northward bound. Unlike the moderate beginning of our first expedition, this section was straight up.

I could only regard myself with disbelief. Had I only hours ago been bopping down the highway with a cup of tea and a gleeful smile on my face? What had I been looking forward to? I knew damn well my pack weighed a zillion pounds. What was I thinking? Volunteering for such torture is the definition of stupidity. I adjusted my pack. “It’s too soon to be adjusting the pack,” I told myself, “we haven’t even been hiking for ten minutes.”

I closed my eyes for a second then forced myself to watch only the back of Tara’s heels as she ascended in front of me. I felt the tug of Tara’s car and magnetism to, of all things, a parking lot. I ignored these but only because I am prideful. If Tara wasn’t going to crack in the first quarter mile, neither was I.

I have since come to recognize this as basic Newtonian physics. An object at rest wants to stay at rest. Yup, you got it, resting is bad. It leads to a sedentary state and eventually to sedentarianism. It's like a gateway drug. For those of us who have been “at rest” for a prolonged period, beginnings are the toughest. All our nastiest thoughts come out to chew at our resolve. Ignore the little voices. Eventually a transformation occurs, you become an object in motion and the hours pass smoothly.

At dusk and just under 7 miles later we arrived at the October Mountain Lean-to narrowly missing pitching a tent in the dark randomly along the trail. Luckily my lovely hiking buddy Tara (one of the few people I know who doesn’t suffer from ADD) reminded me that we had an issue: the broken car. If one has gremlins one must also have elves. The issue was contacting them.

Etiquette might not be the first thing one thinks of in association with hiking, but I assure you that it is a serious matter indeed. Trailside cell phone use is as egregious as dialing up in a library. Tara handed me her cell phone on the sly and looked the other way as I slunk further into the woods. Success, car-elves contacted and no one noticed. All there was left to do was eat and sleep. I could rest easy knowing that if the “real hikers” got hostile it would be undeserved. No, wait, resting is bad!

[Stay tuned for the 3rd and final installment of "Section 2" in which we see how bad an idea resting really was as we teeter along on rubber band legs. For those of you who think I'm making up the cell phone etiquette, see the ATC official website under Leave No Trace & Be Considerate of Others.]


  1. Slow to read blogs these last few weeks, but I love the idea of elves and gremlins in the woods (as long as I'm not hiking alone.)
    Also, there was not spot for comments on the previous post. Can't wait to get back on the trail.

  2. Computers & websites and get gremlins too! But some elf must have come by since as the spot for comments on the 2/14/10 post is up and runnin' today (just below the moth video). Can't wait to get back out on the AT in the fresh spring air.