[at-l] spring loaded....

Felix J AThiker at smithville.net
Sat Mar 13 07:53:24 CST 2010

Since tonight is time-changin' time...I thought this one might be 
appropriate. (and, it's one of my favorites)

Felix J. McGillicuddy

Sundown got his name from his habit of showing up well
past sundown. As he made his way into the shelter, it
looked like he would earn the right to keep it one more
day. Dusk was becoming a memory. The air was cool
and moist above the churning waters of Laurel Falls. I
moved my stuff closer to “my” corner.

“Where have you been?” I asked. “I’ve been here over an

“I missed the turn-off for the Trail down at that parking lot.
There was a dog barking at me, and I was watching him and
just kept walking. I’ll bet I went over a mile. Then, I had to find
the Trail in the dark.”

The flame of my candle flickered as Sundown pulled stuff
from his pack. He nearly blew it out completely when he
dropped his Therm-A-Rest into place.

“What time is it, anyway?” he asked,
shaking his sleeping bag from its stuff

“Almost 8:30,” I said, which was a guess. “Hey, where did
you take your ‘zero hour’?”

“What zero hour?” he asked, as he pulled his feet from their

“You know, the Daylight Saving zero hour. I took mine at
Moreland Gap Shelter. It was actually kinda nice to kick

“Daylight Saving zero hour? What are you talking about?”

“Today is the fi rst day of Daylight Saving Time,” I explained.
“Since the clocks ‘spring forward,’ hikers have to sit in the same
spot for one hour because that hour doesn’t really exist. Today
essentially only had 23 hours. Surely you’ve heard of it.”

The concept was apparently foreign to him. He was rendered
more or less motionless as he tried to figure it out.

“Seriously,” I said. “Every spring, when the clocks change,
hikers have to sit in one spot for exactly one hour. Otherwise,
they’d be an hour ahead of where they should be. That’d mess
everything up. That’s probably why you got here so late. You
hiked through the hour that didn’t exist, even though you didn’t
go anywhere.”

A couple moments of silence and handfuls of M&Ms later,
Sundown said, “What happens in the fall? What happens when
you set your clocks back?”

“In the fall, you have to hike for half an hour, turn around,
and hike back. Or, I suppose you could hike for a whole hour
and then turn around. I guess it depends on what time zone
you’re in. Either way, you have to hike for an hour that you
don’t go anywhere. Because that day is twenty-five hours long,
and you’d end up an hour behind schedule if you didn’t hike
for an hour to nowhere. See?”

I don’t think he saw. I’ll give him credit for trying, though.
As he started his stove, he’d start a question and then stop. He
either couldn’t figure out what the question was or figured out
it wasn’t a question at all.

“So, if the hour….” Silence. “So, if the hour didn’t exist,
then what happens to what you do during that hour?”

“Well, in your case, you made up for it by getting lost for an
hour. In my case, I rested and read graffitti on the wall of Moreland
Gap Shelter. There were some doozies, too.”

Sundown cooked in silence, either trying to understand what
I was saying or figure out if I were telling the truth. It didn’t
matter either way.

“You know how sometimes you experience what they call
‘déjà vu’? That’s the stuff that really happens in those hours
that don’t happen. Then, when they do happen, they seem to
be familiar.” The more I explained, the more I began to believe
it myself.

I went back to reading Jack London’s “To Build a Fire.” I
figured I’d let Sundown digest his Lipton and zero-hour lesson
for a while.

Before I knew it, I was waking up, my eyes adjusting to the
first light of day. Sundown was sliding his arms into the shoulder
straps of his pack.

“Where you going?” I asked.

“I wanted to get an early start. Gonna see if I can make it to
Iron Mountain Shelter before dark. Catch ya later, man,” he
said as he crunched off into the frost.

I took my time getting ready to leave. The cold April morning
made staying in the sleeping bag as long as possible seem
like the right thing to do. I checked the register as I waited for
coffee water to boil and read Sundown’s entry:

April 6
I don’t know if I was here or not. If somebody figures it out,
let me know.

Felix J. McGillicuddy
ME-->GA '98
"Your Move"
ALT '03 KT '03

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