Saturday, May 14, 2016

John, are you out there?

I need another John in my life. And no, not that kind of john. Never actually had one of that kind.

The John I'm referring to was a wonderful hiking buddy back in my Atlanta/Georgia Appalachian Trail Club days. He was always open to my often-crazy ideas about a place to hike or backpack, never really said no to anything as best I can remember. Always willing, always fun, always a great friend.

And we had some good times! He could outwalk me any day, and I was no speed-slouch back then in my relative youth. We'd find the toughest, most challenging places to go and explore, or simply accomplish a lot of mountain miles in a short period of time. And we did it at fairly warp speed, in the world of hiking/backpacking. Granted, there were others who were faster, but we averaged around 2.5 mph over 25 or so miles of trail with plenty of tough ups and downs, accomplishing that in about 10 hours of walking time that didn't include the few brief rest/lunch stops. We didn't have time to do long stops, nor the inclination.

We'd leave Atlanta long before dawn, drive 2-3 hours to whatever trailhead we were using, generally do a car shuttle so there were wheels at each end. With the rough terrain and forested surroundings, it was good to get off the trail before dark when possible so we had to keep moving. I can only remember one time when we didn't make it before dark, and that was at Standing Indian Mountain on the AT in North Carolina. We had to find our way down a steep and lengthy bit of trail in the dark, with only flashlights to keep us actually on the trail.

Or we'd go on a backpack in one of my favorite places, Slickrock Wilderness and explore the side of the rim that was actually wilderness, with unmarked trails where we had to rely on maps and landmarks to know where we were.  I remember one trip that must have been in the middle of summer because we were only an hour or so into the hike, dripping wet with sweat from the humid heat, when we reached the river and stopped for a break. Wasn't long before clothes were off and we were in the cold pools, cooling off before heading up the hill. A day or two later, when we came down from the ridge via a different trail and set up camp, we did the same thing, washing off the trail dust and sweat. I venture to say that very little feels any better than cold, clear creek water under those circumstances! It's heavenly.

There were so many more. I have photos, but none are scanned and I don't currently have a scanner. But if John is reading this, he knows who he is without a reminder!

The point is, I need someone like John in my life, who is adventurous and a little crazy and always says yes to my ideas of fun things to do. And often has suggestions of his own for equally fun things to do. I'm bored too much -- could go places on my own, of course, but these adventures are never as much fun alone as they are with a dear friend who enjoys every moment of it as much as I do.

Last I heard, John was living in Texas. If you are out there, if you are reading this, drop me a line to say hello and tell me what's happening in your life. I think of you often and miss you, even 20 years later.

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