فصل 03

کتاب: قدم زدن در جنگل / فصل 3

فصل 03

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It started with Benton MacKaye, a mild, kindly, infinitely well-meaning visionary who in the summer of 1921 unveiled an ambitious plan for a long-distance hiking trail to his friend Charles Harris Whitaker, editor of a leading architectural journal. To say that MacKaye’s life at this point was not going well would be to engage in careless understatement. In the previous decade he had been let go from jobs at Harvard and the National Forest Service and eventually, for want of a better place to stick him, given a desk at the U.S. Labor Department with a vague assignment to come up with ideas to improve efficiency and morale. There, he dutifully produced ambitious, unworkable proposals that were read with amused tolerance and promptly binned. In April 1921 his wife, a well-known pacifist and suffragette named Jessie Hardy Stubbs, flung herself off a bridge over the East River in New York and drowned.

It was against this background, just ten weeks later, that MacKaye offered Whitaker his idea for an Appalachian Trail, and the proposal was published in the somewhat unlikely forum of Whitaker’s Journal of the American Institute of Architects the following October.

A hiking trail was only part of MacKaye’s grand vision. He saw the AT as a thread connecting a network of mountaintop work camps where pale, depleted urban workers in the thousands would come and engage in healthful toil in a selfless spirit and refreshthemselves on nature. There were to be hostels and inns and seasonal study centers, and eventually permanent woodland villages–“self-owning” communities whose inhabitants would support themselves with cooperative “non-industrial activity” based on forestry, farming, and crafts. The whole would be, as MacKaye ecstatically described it, “a retreat from profit”–a notion that others saw as “smacking of Bolshevism,” in the words of one biographer.

At the time of MacKaye’s proposal there were already several hiking clubs in the eastern United States–the Green Mountain Club, the Dartmouth Outing Club, the venerable Appalachian Mountain Club, among others–and these mostly patrician organizations owned and maintained hundreds of miles of mountain and woodland trails, mainly in New England. In 1925, representatives of the leading clubs met in Washington and founded the Appalachian Trail Conference with a view to constructing a 1,200-milelong trail connecting the two highest peaks in the east: 6,684-foot Mount Mitchell in North Carolina and the slightly smaller (by 396 feet) Mount Washington in New Hampshire. In fact, however, for the next five years nothing happened, largely because MacKaye occupied himself with refining and expanding his vision until he and it were only tangentially connected to the real world.

Not until 1930, when a young Washington admiralty lawyer and keen hiker named Myron Avery took over the development of the project, did work actually begin, but suddenly it moved on apace. Avery was not evidently a lovable fellow. As one contemporary put it, he left two trails from Maine to Georgia: “One was of hurt feelings and bruised egos. The other was the AT.” He had no patience with MacKaye and his “quasi-mystical epigrams,” and the two never got along. In 1935, they had an acrimonious falling-out over the development of the trail through Shenandoah National Park (Avery was willing to accommodate the building of a scenic highway through the mountains; MacKaye thought it a betrayal of founding principles) and they never spoke again.

MacKaye always gets the credit for the trail, but this is largely because he lived to be ninety-six and had a good head of white hair; he was always available in his later years to say a few words at ceremonies on sunny hillsides. Avery, on the other hand, died in 1952, a quarter-century before MacKaye and when the trail was still little known. But it was really Avery’s trail. He mapped it out, bullied and cajoled clubs into producing volunteer crews, and personally superintended the construction of hundreds of miles of path. He extended its planned length from 1,200 miles to well over 2,000, and before it was finished he had walked every inch of it. In under seven years, using volunteer labor, he built a 2,000-mile trail through mountain wilderness. Armies have done less.

The Appalachian Trail was formally completed on August 14, 1937, with the clearing of a two-mile stretch of woods in a remote part of Maine. Remarkably, the building of the longest footpath in the world attracted almost no attention. Avery was not one for publicity, and by this time MacKaye had retired in a funk. No newspapers noted the achievement. There was no formal celebration to mark the occasion.

The path they built had no historical basis. It didn’t follow any Indian trails or colonial post roads. It didn’t even seek out the best views, highest hills, or most notable landmarks. In the end, it went nowhere near Mount Mitchell, though it did take in Mount Washington and then carried on another 350 miles to Mount Katahdin in Maine. (Avery,who had grown up in Maine and done his formative hiking there, was most insistent on this.) Essentially, it went where access could be gained, mostly high up on the hills, over lonely ridges and forgotten hollows that no one had ever used or coveted, or sometimes even named. It fell short of the actual southern end of the Appalachian Mountain chain by 150 miles and of the northern end by nearer 700. The work camps and chalets, the schools and study centers, were never built.

Still, quite a lot of the original impulse behind MacKaye’s vision survives. All 2,100 miles of the trail, as well as side trails, footbridges, signs, blazes, and shelters, are maintained by volunteers– indeed, the AT is said to be the largest volunteer-run undertaking on the planet. It remains gloriously free of commercialism. The Appalachian Trail Conference didn’t hire its first paid employee until 1968, and it retains the air of a friendly, accessible, dedicated outfit. The AT is no longer the longest hiking trail–the Pacific Crest and Continental Divide trails, both out West, are slightly longer–but it will always be the first and greatest. It has a lot of friends. It deserves them.

Almost from the day of its opening, the trail has had to be moved around. First, 118 miles in Virginia were rerouted to accommodate the construction of Skyline Drive through Shenandoah National Park. Then, in 1958, overdevelopment on and around Mount Oglethorpe in Georgia necessitated lopping twenty miles off the trail’s southern end and moving the start to Springer Mountain, in the protected wilderness of the Chattahoochee National Forest. Ten years later, the Maine Appalachian Trail Club rerouted 263 miles of trail–half its total length across the state–removing the trail from logging roads and putting it back in the wilds. Even now the trail is never quite the same from one year to the next.

Perhaps the hardest part about hiking the Appalachian Trail is getting on to it, nowhere more than at its ends. Springer Mountain, the launching-off point in the south, is seven miles from the nearest highway, at a place called Amicalola Falls State Park, which in turn is a good way from anywhere. From Atlanta, the nearest outlet to the wider world, you have a choice of one train or two buses a day to Gainesville, and then you’re still forty miles short of being seven miles short of the start of the trail, as it were. (To and from Katahdin in Maine is even more problematic.)

Fortunately, there are people who will pick you up in Atlanta and take you to Amicalola for a fee. Thus it was that Katz and I delivered ourselves into the hands of a large, friendly guy in a baseball cap named Wes Wisson, who had agreed to take us from the airport in Atlanta to Amicalola Falls Lodge, our setting-off point for Springer, for $60.

Every year between early March and late April, about 2,000 hikers set off from Springer, most of them intending to go all the way to Katahdin. No more than 10 percent actually make it. Half don’t make it past central Virginia, less than a third of the way. A quarter get no farther than North Carolina, the next state. As many as 20 percent drop out the first week. Wisson has seen it all.

“Last year, I dropped a guy off at the trailhead,” he told us as we tooled north through darkening pine forests towards the rugged hills of north Georgia. “Three days later he calls me from the pay phone at Woody Gap–that’s the first pay phone you come to. Says he wants to go home, that the trail wasn’t what he expected it to be. So I drive him back to the airport. Two days after that he’s back in Atlanta. Says his wife made him come back because he’d spent all this money on equipment and she wasn’t going to let him quitso easy. So I drop him off at the trailhead. Three days later he phones from Woody Gap again. He wants to go to the airport. ‘Well, what about your wife?’ I says. And he says, ‘This time I’m not going home.’ ‘’

“How far is it to Woody Gap?” I asked.

“Twenty-one miles from Springer. Doesn’t seem much, does it? I mean, he’d come all the way from Ohio.”

“So why did he quit so soon?”

“He said it wasn’t what he expected it to be. They all say that. Just last week I had three ladies from California–middle-aged gals, real nice, kind of giggly but, you know, nice–I dropped them off and they were in real high spirits. About four hours later they called and said they wanted to go home. They’d come all the way from California, you understand, spent God knows how much on airfares and equipment–I mean, they had the nicest stuff you ever saw, all brand new and top of the range–and they’d walked maybe a mile and a half before quitting. Said it wasn’t what they expected.”

“What do they expect?”

“Who knows? Escalators maybe. It’s hills and rocks and woods and a trail. You don’t got to do a whole lot of scientific research to work that out. But you’d be amazed how many people quit. Then again, I had a guy, oh about six weeks ago, who shoulda quit and didn’t. He was coming off the trail. He’d walked from Maine on his own. It took him eight months, longer than it takes most people, and I don’t think he’d seen anybody for the last several weeks. When he came off he was just a trembling wreck. I had his wife with me.

She’d come to meet him, and he just fell into her arms and started weeping. Couldn’t talk at all. He was like that all the way to the airport. I’ve never seen anybody so relieved to have anything done with, and I kept thinking, ‘Well, you know, sir, hiking the Appalachian Trail is a voluntary endeavor,’ but of course I didn’t say anything.”

“So can you tell when you drop people off whether they’re gonna make it?”

“Pretty generally.”

“And do you think we’ll make it?” said Katz.

He looked at us each in turn. “Oh, you’ll make it all right,” he replied, but his expression said otherwise.

Amicalola Falls Lodge was an aerie high on a mountainside, reached up a long, winding road through the woods. The man at the airport in Manchester had certainly seen the right weather forecast. It was piercingly, shockingly cold when we stepped from the car. A treacherous, icy wind seemed to dart around from every angle and then zip up sleeves and pant legs. “Jeezuss!” Katz cried in astonishment, as if somebody had just thrown a bucket of ice water over him, and scooted inside. I paid up and followed.

The lodge was modern and very warm, with an open lobby dominated by a stone fireplace, and the sort of anonymously comfortable rooms you would find in a Holiday Inn.

We parted for our rooms and agreed to rendezvous at seven. I got a Coke from a machine in the corridor, had a lavishly steamy shower involving many towels, inserted myself between crisp sheets (how long would it be till I enjoyed this kind of comfort again?) watched discouraging reports by happy, mindless people on the Weather Channel, and slept hardly at all.

I was up before daybreak and sat by the window watching as a pale dawn grudgingly exposed the surrounding landscape–a stark and seemingly boundless expanse of thick,rolling hills covered in ranks of bare trees and the meagerest dusting of snow. It didn’t look terribly forbidding–these weren’t the Himalayas–but it didn’t look like anything you would particularly want to walk out into.

On my way to breakfast, the sun popped out, filling the world with encouraging brightness, and I stepped outside to check out the air. The cold was startling, like a slap to the face, and the wind was still bitter. Dry little pellets of snow, like tiny spheres of polystyrene, chased around in swirls. A big wall thermometer by the entrance read 11°F.

“Coldest ever for this date in Georgia,” a hotel employee said with a big pleased smile as she hurried in from the parking lot, then stopped and said: “You hiking?”

“Yeah.”

“Well, better you’n me. Good luck to ya. Brrrrrrr!” And she dodged inside.

To my surprise, I felt a certain springy keenness. I was ready to hike. I had waited months for this day, after all, even if it had been mostly with foreboding. I wanted to see what was out there. All over America today people would be dragging themselves to work, stuck in traffic jams, wreathed in exhaust smoke. I was going for a walk in the woods. I was more than ready for this.

I found Katz in the dining room and he was looking laudably perky, too. This was because he had made a friend–a waitress named Rayette, who was attending to his dining requirements in a distinctly coquettish way. Rayette was six feet tall and had a face that would frighten a baby, but she seemed good-natured and was diligent with the coffee. She could not have signaled her availability to Katz more clearly if she had thrown her skirt over her head and lain across his Hungry Man Breakfast Platter. Katz in consequence was pumping testosterone.

“Ooh, I like a man who appreciates pancakes,” Rayette cooed.

“Well, honey, I sure appreciate these pancakes,” Katz responded, face agleam with syrup and early-morning happiness. It wasn’t exactly Hepburn and Tracy, but it was strangely touching nonetheless.

She went off to deal with a distant customer, and Katz watched her go with something like paternal pride. “She’s pretty ugly, isn’t she?” he said with a big, incongruous beam.

I sought for tact. “Well, only compared with other women.”

Katz nodded thoughtfully, then fixed me with a sudden fearful look. “You know what I look for in a female these days? A heartbeat and a full set of limbs.”

“I understand.”

“And that’s just my starting point, you realize. I’m prepared to compromise on the limbs. You think she’s available?”

“I believe you might have to take a number.”

He nodded soberly. “Probably be an idea if we ate up and got out of here.”

I was very happy with that. I drained a cup of coffee and we went off to get our things. But when we met up outside ten minutes later, togged up and ready to go, Katz was looking miserable. “Let’s stay here another night,” he said.

“What? Are you kidding?” I was completely taken aback by this. “Why?”

“Because it’s warm in there and it’s cold out here.”

“We’ve gotta do it.”

He looked to the woods. “We’ll freeze out there.”I looked to the woods, too. “Yeah, probably. We’ve still gotta do it.”

I hoisted my pack and took a backward stagger under the weight (it would be days before I could do this with anything approaching aplomb), jerked tight the belt, and trudged off. At the edge of the woods, I glanced back to make sure Katz was following.

Ahead of me spread a vast, stark world of winter-dead trees. I stepped portentously on to the path, a fragment of the original Appalachian Trail from the days when it passed here en route from Mount Oglethorpe to Springer.

The date was March 9, 1996. We were on our way.

The route led down into a wooded valley with a chuckling stream edged with brittle ice, which the path followed for perhaps half a mile before taking us steeply up into denser woods. This was, it quickly became evident, the base of the first big hill, Frosty Mountain, and it was immediately taxing. The sun was shining and the sky was a hearty blue, but everything at ground level was brown–brown trees, brown earth, frozen brown leavesand the cold was unyielding. I trudged perhaps a hundred feet up the hill, then stopped, bug-eyed, breathing hard, heart kabooming alarmingly. Katz was already falling behind and panting even harder. I pressed on.

It was hell. First days on hiking trips always are. I was hopelessly out of shapehopelessly. The pack weighed way too much. Way too much. I had never encountered anything so hard, for which I was so ill prepared. Every step was a struggle.

The hardest part was coming to terms with the constant dispiriting discovery that there is always more hill. The thing about being on a hill, as opposed to standing back from it, is that you can almost never see exactly what’s to come. Between the curtain of trees at every side, the ever-receding contour of rising slope before you, and your own plodding weariness, you gradually lose track of how far you have come. Each time you haul yourself up to what you think must surely be the crest, you find that there is in fact more hill beyond, sloped at an angle that kept it from view before, and that beyond that slope there is another, and beyond that another and another, and beyond each of those more still, until it seems impossible that any hill could run on this long. Eventually you reach a height where you can see the tops of the topmost trees, with nothing but clear sky beyond, and your faltering spirit stirs– nearly there now!–but this is a pitiless deception.

The elusive summit continually retreats by whatever distance you press forward, so that each time the canopy parts enough to give a view you are dismayed to see that the topmost trees are as remote, as unattainable, as before. Still you stagger on. What else can you do?

When, after ages and ages, you finally reach the telltale world of truly high ground, where the chilled air smells of pine sap and the I don’t know exactly when I lost track of Katz, but it was in the first couple of hours. At first I would wait for him to catch up, bitching every step of the way and pausing after each three or four shuffling paces to wipe his brow and look sourly at his immediate future. It was painful to behold in every way. Eventually I waited to see him pull into view, just to confirm that he was still coming, that he wasn’t lying on the path palpitating or hadn’t thrown down his pack in disgust and gone looking for Wes Wisson. I would wait and wait, and eventually his shape would appear among the trees, breathing heavily, moving with incredible slowness, and talking in a loud, bitter voice to himself. Halfway up the third big hill, the 3,400-foot-highBlack Mountain, I stood and waited a long while, and thought about going back, but eventually turned and struggled on. I had enough small agonies of my own.

Seven miles seems so little, but it’s not, believe me. With a pack, even for fit people it is not easy. You know what it’s like when you’re at a zoo or an amusement park with a small child who won’t walk another step? You hoist him lightly onto your shoulders and for a while–for a couple of minutes–it’s actually kind of fun to have him up there, pretending like you’re going to tip him off or cruising his head towards some low projection before veering off (all being well) at the last instant. But then it starts to get uncomfortable. You feel a twinge in your neck, a tightening between your shoulder blades, and the sensation seeps and spreads until it is decidedly uncomfortable, and you announce to little Jimmy that you’re going to have to put him down for a while.

Of course, Jimmy bawls and won’t go another step, and your partner gives you that disdainful, I-should-have-married-the-quarterback look because you haven’t gone 400 yards. But, hey, it hurts. Hurts a lot. Believe me, I understand.

OK, now imagine two little Jimmies in a pack on your pack, or, better still, something inert but weighty, something that doesn’t want to be lifted, that makes it abundantly clear to you as soon as you pick it up that what it wants is to sit heavily on the ground– say, a bag of cement or a box of medical textbooks–in any case, forty pounds of profound heaviness. Imagine the jerk of the pack going on, like the pull of a down elevator.

Imagine walking with that weight for hours, for days, and not along level asphalt paths with benches and refreshment booths at thoughtful intervals but over a rough trail, full of sharp rocks and unyielding roots and staggering ascents that transfer enormous amounts of strain to your pale, shaking thighs. Now tilt your head back until your neck is taut, and fix your gaze on a point two miles away. That’s your first climb. It’s 4,682 steep feet to the top, and there are lots more like it. Don’t tell me that seven miles is not far. Oh, and here’s the other thing. You don’t have to do this. You’re not in the army. You can quit right now. Go home. See your family. Sleep in a bed.

Or, alternatively, you poor, sad shmuck, you can walk 2,169 miles through mountains and wilderness to Maine. And so I trudged along for hours, in a private little world of weariness and woe, up and over imposing hills, through an endless cocktail party of trees, all the time thinking: “I must have done seven miles by now, surely.” But always the wandering trail ran on.

At 3:30, I climbed some steps carved into granite and found myself on a spacious rock overlook: the summit of Springer Mountain. I shed my pack and slumped heavily against a tree, astounded by the scale of my tiredness. The view was lovely–the rolling swell of the Cohutta Mountains, brushed with a bluish haze the color of cigarette smoke, running away to a far-off horizon. The sun was already low in the sky. I rested for perhaps ten minutes, then got up and had a look around. There was a bronze plaque screwed into a boulder announcing the start of the Appalachian Trail, and nearby on a post was a wooden box containing a Bic pen on a length of string and a standard spiral notebook, its pages curled from the damp air. The notebook was the trail register (I had somehow expected it to be leather bound and funereal) and it was filled with eager entries, nearly all written in a youthful hand. There were perhaps twenty-five pages of entries since the first of January-eight entries on this day alone. Most were hurried and cheery–“March 2nd. Well, here we are and man it’s cold! See y’all on Katahdin! Jaimie and Spud”–but about a third werelonger and more carefully reflective, with messages along the lines of “So here I am at Springer at last. I don’t know what the coming weeks hold for me, but my faith in the Lord is strong and I know I have the love and support of my family. Mom and Pookie, this trip is for you,” and so on.

I waited for Katz for three-quarters of an hour, then went looking for him. The light was fading and the air was taking on an evening chill. I walked and walked, down the hill and through the endless groves of trees, back over ground that I had gratefully put behind me forever, or so I had thought. Several times I called his name and listened, but there was nothing. I walked on and on, over fallen trees I had struggled over hours before, down slopes I could now only dimly recall. My grandmother could have got this far, I kept thinking. Finally, I rounded a bend and there he was stumbling towards me, wild-haired and one-gloved and nearer hysteria than I have ever seen a grown person.

It was hard to get the full story out of him in a coherent flow, because he was so furious, but I gathered he had thrown many items from his pack over a cliff in a temper.

None of the things that had been dangling from the outside were there any longer.

“What did you get rid of?” I asked, trying not to betray too much alarm.

“Heavy fucking shit, that’s what. The pepperoni, the rice, the brown sugar, the Spam, I don’t know what all. Lots. Fuck.” Katz was almost cataleptic with displeasure. He acted as if he had been deeply betrayed by the trail. It wasn’t, I guess, what he had expected.

I saw his glove lying in the path thirty yards back and went to retrieve it.

“OK,” I said when I returned, “you haven’t got too far to go.”

“How far?”

“Maybe a mile.”

“Shit,” he said bitterly.

“I’ll take your pack.” I lifted it onto my back. It wasn’t exactly empty now, but it was decidedly moderate in weight. God knows what he had thrown out.

We trudged up the hill to the summit in the enveloping dusk. A few hundred yards beyond the summit was a campsite with a wooden shelter in a big grassy clearing against a backdrop of dark trees. There were a lot of people there, far more than I’d expected this early in the season. The shelter–a basic, three-sided affair with a sloping roof–looked crowded, and a dozen or so tents were scattered around the open ground. Nearly everywhere there was the hiss of little campstoves, threads of rising food smoke, and the movements of lanky young people.

I found us a site on the edge of the clearing, almost in the woods, off by ourselves.

“I don’t know how to put up my tent,” Katz said in a petulant tone.

“Well, I’ll put it up for you then.” You big soft flabby baby. Suddenly I was very tired.

He sat on a log and watched me put up his tent. When I finished, he pushed in his pad and sleeping bag and crawled in after. I busied myself with my tent, fussily made it into a little home. When I completed my work and straightened up, I realized there was no sound or movement from within his.

“Have you gone to bed?” I said, aghast.

“Yump,” he replied in a kind of affirmative growl.

“That’s it? You’ve retired? With no dinner?”

“Yump.”I stood for a minute, speechless and flummoxed, too tired to be indignant. Too tired to be hungry either, come to that. I crawled into my tent, brought in a water bottle and book, laid out my knife and flashlight for purposes of nocturnal illumination and defense, and finally shimmied into the bag, more grateful than I have ever been to be horizontal. I was asleep in moments. I don’t believe I have ever slept so well.

When I awoke, it was daylight. The inside of my tent was coated in a curious flaky rime, which I realized after a moment was my all my nighttime snores, condensed and frozen and pasted to the fabric, as if into a scrapbook of respiratory memories. My water bottle was frozen solid. This seemed gratifyingly macho, and I examined it with interest, as if it were a rare mineral. I was surprisingly snug in my bag and in no hurry at all to put myself through the foolishness of climbing hills, so I just lay there as if under grave orders not to move. After a while I became aware that Katz was moving around outside, grunting softly as if from aches and doing something that sounded improbably industrious.

After a minute or two, he came and crouched by my tent, his form a dark shadow on the fabric. He didn’t ask if I was awake or anything, but just said in a quiet voice: “Was I, would you say, a complete asshole last night?”

“Yes you were, Stephen.”

He was quiet a moment. “I’m making coffee.” I gathered this was his way of an apology.

“That’s very nice.”

“Damn cold out here.”

“And in here.”

“My water bottle froze.”

“Mine, too.”

I unzipped myself from my nylon womb and emerged on creaking joints. It seemed very strange–very novel–to be standing outdoors in long Johns. Katz was crouched over the campstove, boiling a pan of water. We seemed to be the only campers awake. It was cold, but perhaps just a trifle warmer than the day before, and a low dawn sun burning through the trees looked cautiously promising.

“How do you feel?” he said.

I flexed my legs experimentally. “Not too bad, actually.”

“Me either.”

He poured water into the filter cone. “I’m going to be good today,” he promised.

“Good.” I watched over his shoulder. “Is there a reason,” I asked, “why you are filtering the coffee with toilet paper?”

“I, oh … I threw out the filter papers.”

I gave a sound that wasn’t quite a laugh. “They couldn’t have weighed two ounces.”

“I know, but they were great for throwing. Fluttered all over.” He dribbled on more water. “The toilet paper seems to be working OK, though.”

We watched it drip through and were strangely proud. Our first refreshment in the wilderness. He handed me a cup of coffee. It was swimming in grounds and little flecks of pink tissue, but it was piping hot, which was the main thing.

He gave me an apologetic look. “I threw out the brown sugar too, so there won’t be any sugar for the oatmeal.”

Ah. “Actually, there won’t be any oatmeal for the oatmeal. I left it in New Hampshire.”He looked at me. “Really?” then added, as if for the record: “I love oatmeal.”

“What about some of that cheese?”

He shook his head. “Flung.”

“Peanuts?”

“Flung.”

“Spam?”

“Really flung.”

This was beginning to sound a trifle grave. “What about the baloney?”

“Oh, I ate that at Amicalola,” he said, as if it had been weeks ago, then added in a tone of sudden magnanimous concession, “Hey, I’m happy with a cup of coffee and a couple of Little Deb-byes.”

I gave a small grimace. “I left the Little Debbies, too.”

His face expanded. “You left the Little Debbies?”

I nodded apologetically.

“All of them?”

I nodded.

He breathed out hard. This really was grave–a serious challenge, apart from anything else, to his promised equanimity. We decided we had better take inventory. We cleared a space on a groundsheet and pooled our commissary. It was startlingly austere–some dried noodles, one bag of rice, raisins, coffee, salt, a good supply of candy bars, and toilet paper. That was about it.

We breakfasted on a Snickers bar and coffee, packed up our camp, hoisted our packs with a sideways stagger, and set off once again.

“I can’t believe you left the Little Debbies,” Katz said, and immediately began to fall behind.

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