Dial 'M' for...

"It's about the music. It's always been about the music."  Madonna, at some crappy award show a few years ago.

"It's not about the music, man." Neil Young to David Crosby.

Okay, let's make it be the music that we dial up first. What do ya say?

I started listening to my walkman shortly after Front Royal, VA.  I was listening to it just at night in the shelters. One day Sundown recommended that I listen to it while I hike. Groovin' Moose ridiculed me for even considering it. I tried it and absolutely loved it. Following are some songs that had some meaning, or not. I can't promise that this will be the least bit interesting. Hell, I can't even promise to get the names of the songs and bands right. I am an old man, you know?

The Song of the Hike has to be "Got You Where I Want You" by The Flys. This song always pumped me up. Climbing a hill in a 33* rain in Georgia was no problem when this song started. Fists went into the air, feet went into the ground. (Or, something like that.)  I felt invincible when this song was on. If you feel it, it must be. Right?

The song I heard the most on the hike had to be "I Want to Fly Away" by Lenny Kravitz. It was pretty good at getting the adrenaline flowing as well.

Creed, the Band of the Hike, has several songs I'll always relate to the hike. One, My Own Prison, What's This Life For? were all solid hits. The CD "My Own Prison" now sits on my PC and reminds me of hiking in southern Virginia and northern Tennessee.

The CD/Album/Tape of the Hike would easily be MatchBox 20's "Yourself Or Someone Like You". Mike Henderson sent me this on a tape. The other side was Third Eye Blind's "Loosing A Whole Year" (I think that's the name of it.) I would listen to this tape non-stop, for 20+ miles a day. MB20 is a strong CD. I also had Nirvana "Unplugged" and a Cake CD on another tape. I liked both of these, too. Let the record show that Mike also sent me some crap, too. Lucious Jackson? Give me a break  :-)

U2 stuff: U2 is one of my all-time favorite bands. Several songs are very inspirational (for lack of a better word.) to me. I'll never forget standing on the rock outcropping with the wonderful view of the James River valley. I had assumed, naturally, that classic hiker pose: Leaning on my hiking sticks, slightly in front of me, facing a strong wind. I looked at my shadow on the rocks. I loved seeing that pack on my back. I realized that "Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" was on in my headphones. I smirked at the irony and thought, "Who has, my friend." It was times like this that made my head want to explode. I'm not sure why. And, that's okay.

U2 also had a new song released whilst I was hiking. "She's the Sweetest Thing" I think it is called. I like the song, but don't necessarily crave it. The thing that I'll always remember when I hear it is walking in the snow along a farm-type road somewhere around Big Bald (NC). As I was walking, I noticed bear tracks in the groove of the road I was walking on. I followed them for about 30 yards and they exited left. "Yeah!!!" I said. Yeah, indeed.

December 26th has been well-documented as my favorite day on the Trail. It was the day that took me across Clingman's Dome, the highest point on the Trail. While I was standing on the tower, alone, in a strong wind and 20* temps, John Mellencamp's "Your Life Is Now" played. It was the first time I'd ever heard it. And it was...

Later that same day...I got to Spence Field Shelter at mid-twilight. (That could mean several things) Anyway, it was just before dark. I wasn't ready to stop. I at a snack at the shelter and decided to head back to the Trail. Right as I got the the AT and the shelter sidetrail junction, "Got You Where I Want You" started and I knew I had made the right decision to keep on hiking. I hiked 5 more miles and felt incredible.

Some other songs that I really liked, or at least didn't hate, that will always take me somewhere on the Trail:

Shawn Mullins.............Rockaby
New Radicals..........You Get What You Give
Beastie Boys..........Intergalactic Planetary
Cake..............Never There (And others)
Goo Goo Dolls...........Slide
Better Than Ezra.....At the Stars
Eve6..............Leech and Inside Out
Sould Coughing..............Circles
Rob Zombie.............Dragula and Living Dead Girl
Sugar Ray............Every Morning  (and some other one)
Bare Naked Ladies..........One Week   (this was nearly the Song of the Hike)
Placebo.....................Pure Morning
Monster Magnet..............Power Trip and Space Lord
Everclear..................Father of Mine (Daddy Gave Me a Name?)
Stabbing Westward.........Save Yourself
Eagle-eye Cherry............Save Tonight
Pearl Jam.................(Live) Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town
Tin Star................Head
Metallica...................Turn the Page
Hole...................Celebrity (?)
Korn..............Got the Life, Freak on a Leash

Well, that's enuff for now. The summary would have to be: I am very glad that I decided to hike with my music. I can't imagine hiking without it in the future.

Now, let's Dial "M" for....


Southbounders don't get much "M"agic. The first "m"agic that I remember was the three bags of treats we found at Crawford Notch. A northbounder had told us about it on top of Webster. The next three miles, all we thought about was whether or not the bags would still be there. They were. We partook. Oranges, Mt. Dew, Oreos, Chocolate, Coke, Cookies, and did I mention Oranges. Nectar of the Hiker Gods. It was incredible. The next "M"agic was found in a creek in Maryland. 6 Mt. Dews and 6 Kicks sitting in the water about 8 inches from the Trail. Pokey and I partook. Stoat, about ten minutes behind, didn't see them. Did I mention that Stoat didn't see them. There was the time that I found two bottles of Coke laying by the Trail. I actually think that they were lost, or had fallen from some dayhiker's pack. I took them, all the same. I enjoyed them at Spring Mtn. Shelter.

There were many examples of 'm'agic that were more planned, or asked for. Ilene Trainor 'm'agiced us some vittles and a great room at a great rate. Cosmo "The Cat" Catalano put us up in his basement. Kahley and Pittsburgh were magicians beyond the call. Steve Landis and his were outstanding. They 'm'agiced us an incredible night. Woodelf was a 'm'agic ride around Roanoke and a great time to be with. Southpaw was a great Trail angel, and still is. (And, a pretty good friend, too.) Redhead and Alice let me sleep on their floors and stick up their houses. (Not necessarily in that order). George and Joyce Crankin (aunt and uncle to this year's "Tank") 'm'agiced me a long ride and a great place to stay on a cold night in December.

Sometimes the 'm'agic was as simple as a gallon jug of water at a roadcrossing. A ride to town in the back of a truck. People giving us leftovers from their picnics or dayhikes. Sometimes the 'm'agic was a really good card trick.

Dial "M" for...


Somebody paid for me and Pokey to stay at Ironmaster's Hostel. It was greatly appreciated, and is still a Miss Tory.

Dial "M" for...


One of the biggest disappointments to me was the United States Postal Service. Here's why:

North Woodstock, NH
I find out that I have a package sent to me with my 'trailname' on it, instead of my realname (as if there is a difference). I tell the counterperson "I have mail here that has my trailname on it, not my realname." The persyn says "I'll need to see some ID."  I respond with "But the name's not the same." Sh...er The persyn says "That's alright. The picture will be." (Read that again and see if you can explain the logic to me.) So, basically, I had to prove that I wasn't Felix J. McGillicuddy so I could get his mail.

Caratunk, ME
I stopped at the P.O. as more of a fluke. I thought I'd check while I was there. "Felix?" she says. "That sounds familiar."  She looks and comes back and says "Nope. Can't find anything."  Five days later, Soyboy, who I had talked to for a total of five minutes in Monson a week earlier, comes up to me and says "I have mail for you." I had no idea who he was, and yet he had mail for me.

Chesire, MA
Ke kaahawe and I stopped at the P.O. I get my mail. Ke asks for his. She goes back and looks around. We can actually see the box with Ke's name on the side. She comes back "No, nothing for ..."  "Hmmm, can you check again? I'm sure it's here." he asks.  "Oh, here it is." Was it not there the first time?  (She was a very friendly woman, btw)

Waynesboro, VA
I was at the P.O. when they opened in the morning. First one in. I go through the "ID" procedure and get my mail. I meet some friends at Weasies for a greasy breakfast. "Hey, wait." I think. "My maps aren't here." So, I go back to the P.O. "Could I get you to check for more mail. I was expecting something else." They make me go through the whole "ID" process again. Two times in less than an hour. They bring me more mail. Was it not there when I was there an hour earlier? Still no maps, though. No winter jacket or fleece hat. Nine months later, I get the two packages sent back to my home address (which was the 'sender' address). I said "NINE MONTHS LATER, I GET THE TWO PACKAGES SENT BACK TO MY HOME ADDRESS."  This, to me, was a very sad example of ineptness. (Actually, I guess it is a very good example of ineptness.)

I would love to see the ATC and the USPS work together to devise a workable scheme to help satisfy everybody. Have a small room for hikers to sort for themselves maybe? Use certain 'hiker-friendly' P.O.'s more than others? Smaller ones seem more willing to help. I don't know. Something needs to be done, though.

Mail Queen:

Hands down, the Mail Queen was Linda 'Earthworm' Patton. She sent some of the coolest stuff. Felixes of all sizes and varieties. Carman Miranda information. Money. BEN AND JERRY'S COUPONS!!! Just clean ol' fun.

A close second would have to be Tink Hubasky Hubiskus Hubiskubis. Great grub, even if it did weigh 19 ounces  :-)

Dial "M" for....

Most "M"barrassing moments:

The most 'm'barrassing 'good' moment came somewhere in Vermont. Ke kaahawe and I were hiking along one evening when we happened on two women sitting on a log. We spoke with them for a few minutes when one of the women asked where  am from. "Indiana" I honestly replied.
"Oh, do you know Felix? He is a southbounder from Indiana." she said.
I kinda smiled and looked at Ke. "Yeah, I've spent a few nights with him."
"Oh, I was afraid we missed him" she said. She went on about how she had hoped to meet Felix. Finally, I said "I'm Felix." I practically had to show her my ID (and, after the North Woodstock thing, I'm not sure what that would have proved). When she finally realized that I am Felix (as though that means something), she practically had me marryin' into the family. It was most flattering, but embarrassing (mainly because Ke Kaahawe watched it all  :-)  Flattering, indeed.

The most 'm'barrassing 'bad' moment came in the backseat of Skeeter's car on the Taconic Parkway. How graffic in traffic. Yes, I vomitted. Fortunately, we had just stopped for denatured alcohol and I had a bag for the barf. I think it was the red water at RPH. Yeah, that's it. The red water at RPH.

Dial 'M' for...


The maddest I was, other than personal conflicts with Pokey, was at the motel owner in Poughquag, NY. I would recommend sleeping in a culvert over staying at his place. (Unless it is raining and the World Series is on TV. Those are the two reasons I stayed.) I foned the establishment from Tony's Deli. I got the rate for a room for four people and made a reservation. When we got there, the man told us that he would not let us have one room for four hikers and that we would have to have two rooms. His reason was that we smelled too bad and he could not get the room clean enough to rent again if he let four hikers stay in one room. To quote him "Why do you smell so bad?" As we walked out of his office, he was following us spraying Lysol. The saddest part of this is that the man was of a nationality that is often times made fun of because of various body aromas. Had I not rented him a room based on this fact, I'm certain a lawsuit would have ensued. But, reverse discrimination seems to be okay.

Dial "M" for...

"M"possible to believe.

It is impossible for me to believe that what I am about to describe actually happened. It is a bad taste that still lingers in my mouth. (I do hold a grudge):

The Villager Restaurant.
Pokey, Stoat, Ke kaahawe and I went in for breakfast. The entire time we were in the restaurant, none of the four of us heard our waitress say a word. Not when we ordered, not while we ate, not while Ke got his own coffee. The poorest service we had on the trip. Let the record show that I am generally a generous tipper. I jack with the help and figure they earn it simply with a smile. This girl didn't smile, and she didn't earn a tip. So, for the first time in my adult life, I did not leave a tip. As we were waiting in line to pay, the cashier holds a vase up to Stoat and says "If you want to leave a tip, you can put it here." This irritated me on top of the irritation from the poor service. As I was paying, the cashier, who was also extremely unfriendly, looks at my table to see if I had left a tip. Seeing no tip, she again holds up the vase and asks for a tip. My change was $.67. I was caught off guard and dropped the change in. The girl looks at the waitress and sarcastically says "Sixty-seven cents" with a smerk. I stared a hole into her soul. I was possibly madder here than at the motel mentioned above. If you're ever in Kent, CT, I'd recommend eating anyplace but the Village Restaurant. (I was still writing the owner a letter in my mind as far south as Virginia. Had there been an address in Wingfoot's book, there would have been a letter in the mail. There still may be.)

Dial "M" for...


What can you possibly say about Maine to even come close to what it really is? From the ponds and bogs in the northern half of the 100 Mile Wilderness to the 'sidewalk'-covered peaks in the south, the state is absolutely incredible. Bigelow, with its views of Flagstaff Lake and Sugarloaf Mtn. was the first REAL climb for a southbounder. (This doesn't count Katahdin, oddly enough.) The climbs would come with more fequency. North Crocker, Sugarloaf, Spaulding, Saddleback, Bemis, Old Blue, Baldpate, Old Speck and Goose Eye are all mountains with nothing to be ashamed of. Each of them offering incredible views in exchange for some intense work. 'twas worth it. Yes, 'twas.

I loved the ponds/lakes. The night we spent on Lake Nahmakanta, complete with full Moon and more than one Loon, was outstanding. The next night, at Antlers Campsite, was equally impressive. The near-full Moon rising with Pine tree silhouettes and geese and Loons singing a chorus of Nature's Symphony. Do symphonies have choruses? This one did. I remember sitting on a large rock that juts out into the water, eating dinner, getting eaten by the 'quitos', thinking "This is gonna be alright." I would love to be there right now.

If you haven't, and you get the chance, DO MAINE. If you have, then I don't have to tell you.

Dial "M" for....


My favorite M&M story is a little different from your normal M&M stories. This happened just north of Peter's Mt. Shelter, north of Duncannon. We had stopped for a break. I had just opened a one pound bag of M&Ms. Stoat and I were deep into some conversation, as we usually are. I gave him some Ms. I gave him some more. Some where in there, we dropped one. A brown one. The same color as dirt and leaves and stuff. We went on about our conversation while we looked for the escaped brown M. All the while, I'm holding a pound of 'em. Well, I found it. I picked it up. Instead of eating it, I literally tried to break it. I subconsciously thought I was supposed to share the M with Stoat. I was still talking about whatever we were talking about, and trying to break an M. Finally, Stoat says to me "I'll eat that if you're not going to." All the while, I was holding a pound of 'em.

Well, have we dialed enough "M"s? I guess so, for now. I may add more, and I may not. I'm a'quiver just wondering whether I will or not.