Saturday, May 17, 2008

Useless object


Little did I know, but it is a trail tradition to carry a useless object on your hike to Katahdin. In the past, folks have made the 2,174 mile trek with french horns, pink flamingos, stuffed animals, you name it.

It's an interesting game. On the one hand you obsess over everything in your pack, counting grams and ounces to keep your load as light as possible. And then, when your pack is as light as light can be, you add something completely useless to aid in the development of trail conversation and lore.

This week we finally caught up to Yo Charlie, a gregarious and over confident chap from Britain who is carrying a cricket bat on the outside of his pack. Despite the assumption that this bat is his useless object, Charlie insists that the 2 lb. wooden mallet is an essential piece of gear, useful for fighting off wild animals, clearing brush, settling disputes and, in an emergency, starting a fire.

We intersected Charlie's path multiple times this week, but he beat us to the hostel by two hours on Friday morning. When we strolled into camp, he was freshly showered, smiling and deep in conversation with Curtis, the hostel owner. Charlie was convincing Curtis to drive him to Lowe's to pick up a brick. Seems that the bat isn't useless enough and Charlie wants to carry a little something additional.

By the end of the day, Charlie had changed his mind. He purchased a brick, but he felt that a commercial building block didn't hold enough meaning.

This morning Yo Charlie left camp with a 6 lb. river stone in his pack. He promises to send all of us pictures of the stone at Katahdin. The stone, he claims, will be held high above his head.

I'm in the market for a good mud flap.

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