Musings of a Thru-Hiker

By Gary Shealy

Muskrat Creek Shelter

      The weather cleared that evening at Muskrat Creek Shelter. After eating a hot meal and a couple of hot chocolates, I felt much better. So much so in fact, I wished that I had pushed on down the trail. But it was not to be. I spread my gear, got comfortable, and began to write in my journal as the others started to settle in the shelter. The threesome from Orlando quickly unpacked and changed in to pajamas and little down booties. I could not believe my eyes. They continued to bicker among themselves as they were doing early that morning when I met them. Soon they had all three stoves going and hot coffee was brewing.   They mixed some sort of potatoes, rice, and leftovers for a meal. It was far less appealing than the pancakes.   While they prepared their meals, they jostled for territory and continued to pick at each other as brothers often do when they are too close for too long.

      Slow Poke capped off the evening entertainment (really it was hard to upstage the pajamas and footies) with his dinner preparation. Still chain smoking he spread out his cooking gear. Several pots, in a variety of sizes, pans, lids, cups, a mixing bowl, plates, knife, fork, and spoon. I am not sure what he actually ate, but he had plenty of cooking utensils. One pinkish concoction appeared to have jello and strawberry breakfast drink in it. As the steam rose from the cup, it began to congeal. Even in the woods I could not imagine eating anything that color and consistency.

      One dish had rice and beef stew, another had soup, still another had some sort of dough mixture that approximated a gooey uncooked biscuit. To this he added a few fig newtons, a dessert, and hot tea with a spoonful of sugar. From the appearance of things his cooking gear alone weighed at least twenty pounds. Perhaps not that much, but at least twenty times what I carried! My cooking gear including my stove and windscreen weighed less than a pound. Surely his weighed much more. Perhaps that is why he took so many breaks to smoke.   I also carried a one ounce bottle of campsuds to clean my dishes( one half of it remained unused at the end of my trip). Slow Poke carried a quart bottle. In fairness I should point out that it was only half full at this point. He boiled a fourth pot of water and liberally applied the soap concentrate. His dishes were squeaky clean and dried quickly as water evaporated from the hot surfaces.   This   was incredible:   a seven course meal and more cooking gear than a kitchen! He spent longer doing dishes that night than I spent eating and then cleaning all day.   The trail is full of   incredible experiences;   as darkness fell, one of the punkers noticed "Ed Garvey was here" scratched in the ceiling of the A-frame.


     "You ask me:
              Why do I live
              on the green mountain?
          This is
              another sky,
          No likeness
              to that human world below."

               LI PO



Copyright 1991-2000, all rights reserved

This is a fictional account of an actual Thru-Hike in 1990. Any resemblance to specific individuals or events is purely coincidental.