Monday, August 25, 2014

74. Finding Something You Thought You Lost, Part 3

I have neglected to explain exactly why the concept of finding lost things is so important. I think perhaps I have mislabeled this little 3-part set. Really, I should have called it "Owning Less Than 30 Items" because that's really what makes it a terrific part of long distance hiking. But just the simple fact of owning such a small number of things isn't inherently terrific. There's really nothing wrong with owning stuff. There's a little capitalist inside me just like every other American, in spite of my best crunchy hippie efforts to pretend otherwise. However, having less than 30 possessions with you at all times and being unemployed definitely helps you to actually appreciate everything you own.

And thus, when you lose one of your few possessions, it feels like losing a friend. Like when Tom Hanks (14-YEAR-OLD-MOVIE SPOILER ALERT) lost Wilson in Cast Away. I felt for him at the time I first watched that movie, but now I really feel for him. That muscle-bound loin-clothed Forrest Gump owned nothing except that bloody volley ball and by god it was important to him. I think I finally understand that. Not that hiking the Appalachian Trail is anything like being marooned on a desert island for 4 years, but I have caught myself in a metaphor loop and the only way out of it is to go through.

Losing One of Your Only Possessions is number 5 on the nonexistent sister list: "200 Things About Hiking That Totally Suck." I will never actually write that list, because I'm pretty sure that would be mightily depressing naval-gazing garbage writing. But if I did write that list, I imagine "losing stuff" would rank pretty high. Just ahead of Perpetual Dampness and just behind Being So Nauseated By Your Inescapable Body Odor Cloud That You Almost Vomit.

Due to the fact that losing something is one of the more terrible things about hiking, when you find something you had thought was long gone, it's like Christmas morning, except you're just opening presents that you already owned. Wouldn't that be a wonderful thing? I heard a statistic that only 1% of non-consumable products that people buy in the United State are still being used 6 months after they're bought. What if instead of buying people more stuff for holidays, we just wrapped up the stuff they already owned but had forgotten about?

Who am I kidding? One of my greatest pleasures is finding the perfect gift for someone for Christmas. I couldn't handle just finding something in someone's attic and sticking a bow on it. Mom and Dad, please don't wrap up my dragon figurines from when I was 12 and re-gift them to me.

Or maybe do?

I can't decide.

There are a few more things that Dumptruck and I lost over the course of the trail that turned up later. Here they are, in no particular order:

1. We left our cat-hole digging trowel on the side of the trail (nowhere near a dug cat-hole, it just fell out of Dumptruck's pack). The Dude picked it up, knew it was ours somehow, and carried it for 2 whole days until he crossed our path again and gave it back to us.

2. Hotdog, Apollo and Whistle stole one of Dumptruck's socks. This was particularly horrifying, because socks are like the undercarriage of your car. Without it, the whole mechanism just breaks down. Dumptruck had only two pairs of socks with him, and our friends stole just one sock out of his backpack, thus very easily convincing him that he had lost it. He was heartbroken, especially because they were new backpacking wool socks (that cost something like $25). Later that day, they then stole one of each of my socks out of my backpack when I left my pack briefly. That evening as we were setting up our tents, I was flabbergasted to find that I had also lost one sock from each pair. We were bemoaning our stupidity and irresponsibility to take care of our possessions when our friends finally took pity on us and revealed their ruse.

3. Dumptruck thought he had lost his Speedo for a while. Yes he had a speedo. I don't know why. His legs are like bright white birch trees; seeing Dumptruck in a speedo gives one vertigo. Regardless, he thought he'd lost it, but it was just jammed in the bottom of his backpack for several days.

4. Whistle stole Apollo's spork from him secretly, and he was very sad to have lost it. In Damascus Virginia, he went into town and then came back, sighing loudly about how he'd spent $20 to buy a brand new spork. Whistle, red-faced and guilty, immediately confessed that she'd stolen his spork and would pay him back for having wasted money. Apollo then revealed that he'd been lying because he was almost 100% positive that someone had stolen his spork, and that he was hoping that by pretending to have bought a new spork, the thief would fess up. It worked.

5. I thought I'd lost my little baggie o' underpants, after doing laundry and hiking away from a town, but it turns out that I had (for reasons beyond my understanding) packed it into my food bag.

Clever Girl


  1. Never, ever mention Dumptruck's Sp**#do again!

  2. My previous comment probably seems much more harsh than I intended. It was early, I was enjoying my first cup of coffee......My apologies Dumptruck.

  3. This year on our 250 mile section of the PCT we found: 2 hats, a watch, underwear, several socks, toothpaste, sunscreen, and a shirt. We said we could almost have started naked and ended up with everything we needed.