Location: Sherburne Pass
I slept through my work for my work for stay this morning. I was supposed to help Cashen in the café. I took my time getting out of the hostel this Saturday morning. I visited the farmers’ market in town and the local bookstore. I decided not to buy anything. I visited the library with The Sexy Monk. I took a collection of O’Henry short story prize winners from the free books shelf outside the library. The Sexy Monk and I decided to get a late breakfast. The local breakfast diner had a line out the door, so we waited outside of the Tokyo House and got the first table at 11:00am when the restaurant opened.
The Sexy Monk (Matt Parker) is a northbound AT thru-hiker. Nothing about him says hiker or sexy. He is overweight and looks weak. He wears coke-bottle glasses on his baby face and neatly combs his blonde hair each morning. If I hadn’t had the chance to talk to him, I would assume he were gay because of his dainty mannerisms and lisp.
The Sexy Monk and I sat at the same table that Eggshells and I sat the day before. I sat in my same seat and ordered the very same meal, plus an extra bowl of white rice at the end of the meal. Sexy Monk has recently returned from a three year stint in the Peace Corps. He spent time in South Africa. After his usual 18 month period was finished, he remained in South Africa with one of his teachers and studied at a spiritual and natural healing school. Most of his time he spent drawing and painting. Art has taken him around the world. After earning the Fulbright Scholarship after undergraduate studies, he went to India on an art fellowship. After the trail he plans to create an art blog for his artwork (Google: Art Blog, South Africa, Sangoma, The Sexy Monk, Matt Parker). Sexy Monk has a unique story from the trail. In Pearisburg, Pennsylvania his pack was stolen from the foyer of a restaurant. Unable to afford the costs of refitting his gear, he expected that his trip was finished. However, other hikers, former and present, gathered enough of their extra equipment so that he could continue. Everything that he carries now belongs to someone else. Only the clothes he was wearing and his boots are his own.
Before leaving the hostel, I dropped another ten dollars donation in the wooden birdhouse by the door. I had missed my work for stay today so I decided to make another donation instead of just leaving. When I did leave though, I said goodbye to Stosh and told him to stay safe on his hitchhike. I crept past Zerah who was asleep on the common room floor. A goodbye with him might last an hour. I caught the 2:15 bus back to the Sherburne Pass trailhead. The bus was full of local commuters. I banged around the aisle with my pack until I found a seat. I sat behind a young man with black hair tucked behind his ears. He carried a giant bouquet of flowers for his girlfriend. He and I talked for a bit about hiking in Vermont. I talked about the trail; he talked about the character and the spirit of each mountain. He is a landscape artist and says that every mountain has a unique personality and that the mood of a mountain depends on which direction the mountain is observed. He lost me a little bit when he was talking about the ridgelines and curves, but then I started listening after he made an abrupt change in topic. From nowhere he began talking about skateboarding and how a subculture exists in the skating community that doesn’t care about the glamour of the sport. He claims to be a part of this underground skating revolution. I listened and smiled and asked questions from the back seat of the bus. Before reaching his stop, he extended his closed palm and said take this. I held out my hand curiously and he dropped a large green nugget of marijuana into my palm. I felt like all eyes had fallen on me. I closed my palm quickly and uneasily shoved it into my pocket. I didn’t have the time or brazenness to deny the gift. I just panicked and pocketed the bud. He pulled the chord to call the driver to stop. He got off the bus with a smile and carried his flowers into the Pico Lodge.
I continued on the bus to my stop, constantly nervous about the drugs I carried in my pocket. I thought about ditching it on the floor or out the cracked window, but someone might have seen. I got off the bus at the Long Trail Inn and crossed the parking lot to the trailhead. I hadn’t taken 100 steps from the bus stop when a man rushed from behind an early model blue 4Runner in the parking lot.
‘Are you hungry or thirsty?’ he said. I wasn’t sure exactly what was happening. The guy, frankly, intimidated the hell out of me. He wore a shaggy Mohawk and his muscles bulged with stretch marks and veins. I said, ‘Yeah, I’m hungry.’
He fixed me a couple tacos and handed me a Miller High Life. I accepted both graciously. The tacos were hot and tasty and the beers were ice cold. He said his name was Trail Ninja. He and his girlfriend, Thirsty Girl, had just finished thru-hiking the Long Trail and were doing trail magic for LTers and ATers they said. I finished my tacos and my beer, and he gave me more of each. It didn’t take me long to realize that this guy probably wouldn’t mind relieving me of the pot in my pocket. I presented him with the nugget and his eyes lit up. He gave me a violent handshake. He had run out of pot just a few days ago and hadn’t been able to find any. After that, he opened up his heart and his cooler to me.
Not long after I had arrived, Good Times Charlie and Outlaw (Josey McGuire) arrived in the parking lot. I had met Charlie and Josey a couple days before hiking into Rutland. The two had met on the trail on northbound thru-hikes this year and are now inseparable. They both gave up on thru-hiking and now are just hitting the highlights of New England. They leave for Lake Tahoe in a few days to begin a new life.
The day that I arrived at the Twelve Tribes, Charlie and Josey were already there, which didn’t make any sense because I was hiking faster than they were. Josie had sprained her ankle that morning and they hitched a ride to town. Charlie and Josie stayed four nights at the Twelve Tribes and worked hard while there. They had planned to camp in the grass field across from the Long Trail Inn until their plane left for Lake Tahoe on Friday.
Charlie and Outlaw hung out that afternoon and Charlie hitched to the store for more beer. Before I knew it, I had set up my tent and decided to stay in the field where Trail Ninja was doing trail magic. I drank his beer and Charlie’s beer all afternoon. Ninja continued to feed me tacos and bacon, egg, and cheese sandwiches. Ninja thru-hiked the AT in 2001. Since then, he has been organizing fundraisers for the Green Mountain Club. He ran the Long Trail two years ago in 9 days. That’s 270 miles of difficult trail. Last year, he and a few friends, did a relay run of the Long Trail. Someone from the team was constantly running and they completed the trail in just over 82 hours.
Later that night, we all crossed the street to hear live Irish music at McGrath’s pub. Of course I convinced the band to play a couple beach music songs and I taught a couple thru-hiker girls how to shag. We had a good time, or at least I did. We got back to our tents at around 11:30 pm. Ninja and Thirsty slept in the back of Ninja’s 4Runner, which he had converted into a mobile home. Both Ninja and Thirsty had given up their apartments before thru-hiking. They now shared a platform in the back of the 4Runner.