Monday, December 22, 2014

Slackdown at Jim and Molly's!


"Blue Jay 5" and I had been hiking together for several days through Shenandoah. Well … we’d been camping together. He’d leave camp early and stop early. I’d leave late and get to camp right about at sunset. I was on my annual section hike towards completion of the trail. He was on his annual section hike with no particular goal, having previously completed a thru hike.

From the moment we met, we were in near constant competition as to who was the most Slack - While being fully aware of, and not struggling at all with the inherent contradictions therein.

It started when he claimed to be the slowest hiker on the AT. I was pretty certain that title belonged to me, and I said as much. Then we got into miles hiked, zeros taken, attitude ... In truth, we were pretty similar. Just our styles differed.

Jim & Molly Denton Shelter is somewhat unique on the AT as it has a solar shower, a separate cooking/eating area, and a large built-on deck. There was a great crowd there that night, and we were all hanging out on the deck. Blue Jay started talking about our commitment to Slack, and called for the assembled hikers to decide which of us was the most Slack. We were to present our arguments as to why our hiking style was the most Slack, there would be a vote, and a judge would make the final decision.

I thought the whole concept lacked Slack, and said so. I offered that we were clearly equally slackful. He wasn’t satisfied with that. Because he wanted to win. Which, of course, is anti-Slack. But I went along so as not to harsh the collective mellow …

So Blue Jay described his hiking style, then I described mine. then he defended his style, and I explained how I thought mine was more Slackful. We went back and forth on town visits, zeros, hiking with groups, hostels, cooking styles …

I think his competitive nature hurt him, ‘cause in the end, the vote went pretty clearly for me. One commented that while he had clearly mastered the art of Slack, that I was Slack. We both said that was the nicest thing anyone had ever said about us …

Sloth was the judge. She was the epitome of Slack herself, hanging in her Warbonnet hammock from the shelter’s rafters during the whole ordeal. All but invisible to us behind her mosquito netting. She was clearly channeling the wisdom of Solomon when she declared that we were both equally Slackful, that we were just differed in our approach.

The next morning Blue Jay left early, as he was won't to do - Just before Aquaman showed up and played a long set on his mandolin while the rest of us ate breakfast, enjoyed the music, and the company …

Soon after the Slackdown, Blue Jay and I parted company. He headed into Linden to resupply, and there ran into some old hiker friends. They headed off on another adventure, and I continued north.  But we’re staying in touch and are planning to hike together a bit next spring.