from Fathers and Sons – Springer Mountain

We told ourselves if he put his name on that list then there was a part of him that wanted us to come. To be found. Not disappear. At least not entirely. We agreed if his name was there, I’d take up this pack I had prepared and go after him. Well there it was. Here I am. Cursing every single decision in existence that led me here. I was not prepared. Not ready. The very bread and water of this adventure is footsteps, and my appetite can’t handle the most pallid aspects of my calling. I can’t stomach the bread. Haven’t touched my water. I believe at least one of my pinky toes has a blister on it already. My pack is overweight. I am overweight. This stupid walking stick my dad made. My original Boy Scouts of America external frame hiking pack. What the hell was I thinking. No. No. This is on Jeremiah. That ridiculous, rebellious, nothing whatsoever in the world can be easy, son of mine. That spry little asshole is probably jogging downhill fifty miles ahead of me where it is somehow actually cool yet sunny and the whole trail lies resting like a well-fed snake in the shade of so many humpback mountains. Sliding where the water on the trail has frozen, he is somewhere it is so comfortably cold he can see his breath. Two thousand feet. Eight point eight. Springer Mountain Shelter. Uphill. Stairmaster. His adventure. My disaster. Dry sleeping bag. Hot noodles. Sodium choked broth. Two thousand miles of mountains on the other side of one. More days than I care to count that will come up to me early and introduce themselves all the same. Tomorrow. Will never truly meet today. But the razor thin line between the two actually lies physically in existence in a spot or two. One of them is called Appalachia. It knits the whole east coast of America together like it was a spinal column, statewide vertebrae along the way, marked up scarred places where each regional disc herniates against the next.

I predict at the end of this whatever I imagined separated time from distance will be utterly ruined in me.

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