[at-l] I love/hate when this happens

Kyvcat at aol.com Kyvcat at aol.com
Sun Nov 21 08:17:45 CST 2010

Hopeful, your meeting with Earl Shaffer surely happened at Hot Springs at 
the very first Trail Fest and the first time I met you and Plodder in person. 
That's when I got my book signed by Earl Shaffer too. I remember that line, 
and Earl leading the hiker parade.

That was also when we came back from a short hike and I found a hanging 
rope on the tree behind our campsite, no doubt because we'd been laughing about 
the hikers mentioned on at-l who were concerned that the good folks in 
Suches, GA always hung hikers if they could catch them. LOL

A huge memory of that time is of meeting Solophile, who had just finished 
her thru. She was the first thru hiker I ever met! At the time that was a 
major thing. Remember how thrilled we were to sit with her and go through her 
photo album and hear her stories of the trail firsthand? I'd followed her 
trip reports on at-l and felt I knew her like an old friend.

That was the first time I met Felix in person, too. It was in some small 
building with a big crowd of people. Wingfoot's trail museum? Was there such a 
thing for real? Anyway, I don't know how I knew it was him, unless it was 
the Hawaiian shirt. ;-)

What great memories.


In a message dated 11/20/10 8:14:27 PM, hopeful_2003 at comcast.net writes:
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Mark Hudson" <mvhudson at gmail.com>
> Subject: [at-l] I love/hate when this happens
> Nina,
> If it makes you feel any better, there's a long history behind this...
> I had the pleasure of seeing Earl Shaffer at the '96 Gathering in 
> Carlisle.
> But I actually got to meet him at several of the PA Rucks. Earl was 
> reserved, if not outright shy. It was a joy to watch the walls come down and the 
> "real" Earl come out when he realized that he was with kindred spirits. :-)
>  Happy Trails, 4/24/98 Earl V. Shaffer
>  There was the slightest rain coming down and the heavy slate skies 
> threatened to cut loose at any moment. The line moved but the progress was 
> imperceptible. The mob could hardly be labeled a line for everyone shifted side 
> to side, first standing on tippytoes then crouching in their effort to gain 
> a better view of the most unlikely hero we had ever seen. My wife suggested 
> that we were all about to get soaked but I was crouching at the moment and 
> missed her observation. Someone close by simply returned, "It’ll be 
> alright."
>  In front of Bluff Mountain Outfitters sat an aged and cheerful man. He 
> was signing books and conversing with each and every person who appear before 
> him. There was plenty noise across the street and down the block yet as 
> the admirers neared the table all talking stopped. Ears strained to overhear 
> what was being said at the table.
>  In 1991 I began section hiking the AT. Year by year I learned more about 
> the Trail and especially about the Trail Community, not the towns and 
> hamlets but the hikers. Shortly before Thanksgiving in ‘97 I bought a copy of 
> Walking With Spring. With each new fact, tidbit or nuance I learned about the 
> AT, the more I wanted to be a part of this sect. When the announcement was 
> made that Earl Shaffer would be a special speaker at the 1998 Trail Fest I 
> determined that I would be in attendance.
>  The mythical Crazy One was just a few feet away from me. With a few 
> strokes of his pen and some kind comments to the hikers ahead of me, they 
> received the honor of meeting this soft spoken champion. For months I had been 
> anticipating the hour when I could meet Earl Shaffer. "How would you like for 
> me to sign this?" he ask me as I laid my book on the table before him. My 
> mind wouldn’t work and no words seems to fit his questions so I clumsily 
> reply, "I don’t know." His smile broadened, not a mocking smile but a kind 
> smile and he looked down at the book and began to write.
>  As Mrs Hopeful and I walked away, I confessed how totally foolish I felt. 
> "I didn’t realize how much I respected this man," I told her. "He is a 
> great man," she agreed. We crossed the street and turned back towards Smokey 
> Mountain Diner. "I didn’t think men my age were supposed to have heros." Mrs 
> Hopeful just glanced at me and smiled the way she does when she is reading 
> all the thoughts I’m having. She repeated the fact, "He is a great man."
>  We sat at our table and gave our order to the waitress. "What did he 
> write?" my wife asked. I felt more foolish than ever for I had not yet read his 
> words. Opening to the fly page I look down to the bottom and placed my 
> finger below the signature. I became aware that our hiker friends at the table 
> and several at tables nearby had all crowded around to see the autograph. 
> I wasn’t the only one who was so impressed by that legion. I read loudly so 
> all who wanted to could hear, "Happy trails, 4/24/98, Earl V. Shaffer."
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