[at-l] golden oldies

Felix J AThiker at smithville.net
Sun Nov 6 05:52:00 CST 2011

An oldie but a goodie....and, one you get stuck lookin' at 
twice a year....


  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 LaurelFalls. 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 said as he pulled his feet from their 

"You know, the Daylight Savings Zero Hour. I took mine at 
Moreland Gap Shelter. It was actually kinda nice to kick back."

"Daylight Savings Zero Hour? What are you talking about?"

"Today is the first day of daylight savings 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 graffiti 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 was 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^th /

/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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