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[at-l] Gathering Events ?

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In a message dated 10/21/02 1:32:10 PM US Eastern Standard Time,
UncommonDs@aol.com writes:

> <<If anyone has the words to the Pabst Blue Ribbon song...I know a couple of
> people who would be intersted in having them.>>
> Is this song anything like: "When it's time to relax.....one beer stands
> still?"

No - not really :)  It was a Billville production, sponsored by I don't
remember who.  It was basically a compilation of one liners touching on
things that have happened over the past few hiker events turned into a song.
The PBR refrain in the chorus probably got put into it due to someone
bringing some to Billville, which usually abounds with Yuengling, Heinekin,
and various other more upscale brands :)  But I can't vouch for the
reasoning, it's impossible not to miss SOMETHING at a Gathering.

For instance, *I* didn't miss the cliff jump at 6:30 am Sunday morning, but
for some reason the instigator (not mentioning any names here, SKEETER)
didn't show up. ;)  The awesome thing that happened, though, was that I was
sitting in the van and we were waiting for one more jumper, and the driver
referred to the other female in the van as "Mountain Roamer".  Now, we had
been sitting there talking (in the dark, the sun wasn't up yet) for awhile,
but it being dark, hadn't really seen each other.  I said "Mountain
Roamer????!!!!!"  She said "Red???!!!!!!"  Wow.  What an unexpected meeting.
I hadn't seen her all weekend, so didn't know she was in attendence.  What a
bonus.  She is one of the special people in my heart who had met Mom.  Her
and Outta Chocolate hiked in '98, and Mom and I ran into them and Chase,
woodelf and Ratboy at Tye River unexpectedly one weekend.  As I understand
it, woodelf packed a watermelon in to them, up over the Priest :)  Man, what
we'll do for thru hikers ;)

I am trying to piece together some sort of Gathering report here, but - it
isn't easy.  After having slept maybe 3 or 4 hours the entire weekend, I got
home last night after a very typical Miss Janet ride ;) and slept for 12
hours straight.  My hot water heater apparently exploded before I got home,
so there was no hot water.  I now smell like I've been on the Trail for a
week, I guess.

It started with the generous ride Coosa gave me, a side trip to Mt Rogers
Outfitters, and arriving at the Gathering and immediately running into at
least 15 people I know and love, just between the car and the registration
area at the Folklife center, within a 3 minute period.  That was the first
100 feet at the Gathering. :)

I actually got my tent set up, then bummed a ride over to the college for
opening ceremonies.  Wow.  It is usually an emotional time, but this year
there was even more emotion involved.  I cried no less than 5 times.
Woodchuck has made a monument of sorts for those hikers who have passed on.
It is basically "The Last White Blaze".  One was presented to Earls brother.
A lot of us were suprised to see John and Lois there, but doubly glad that
they were there to recieve that last blaze for Earl.

The testemonial period was also more emotional.  A lot of songs and speech
dedicated to the Trail and what it meant to them.  The most moving for me was
when Twilight sang.  She had just finished her thru in '98 when Mom and I
were there, and she sang her song about White Blazes that year.  So she
talked about what the Trail meant to her, and the gifts it brought her, and
sang her song.  That alone was enough to make me cry, and it did.  And then
she shared some special thoughts afterwards, and that made me cry too.  It
was also a bonus to see Solophile and her sweet little Emily.

The rest of the weekend was a blur of happiness.  Being with friends, a lot
of laughter, playing Dice Kwon Do in the Folklife center (and meeting Josh,
Shelly the caretakers son, and not recognizing him from earlier meetings, he
was so grown up), the workshops, Billville (which this year we didn't have to
hold up by our heads while rain and wind battered it), the fire and the
friendship and laughter there, Mountain Man showing up at 4am and providing
breakfast Sunday morning to everyone who showed up at the Folklife Center
just because he wanted to, the song at the fire, the good moments spent w/
Leapfrog in the center by the fire, watching her get addicted to the game <g>
, Baltimore Jacks new friend :) (which Trouble and Instigator had NOTHING to
do with, honest), wondering why Sloetoe drove crazy distances to be at a
hiker event and go run 50 miles hours away from said event, but being glad he
finally showed up, Mags confusion over finding gear in his tent that wasn't
his, the pumpkin that Redneck carved, which was a work of art, the really bad
redhead jokes I heard <g>, the strange coughing fit that over took a few
hikers, the generous Bag o' Tricks who provided hundreds of hotdogs in the
wee hours to all the hungry hikers at the fire, watching the great lazer tag
game . . . (pictures of Jack in camo on the ground aiming at his target
should be worth some money), the laid back Sunday morning enjoying the cold
cokes and the friends, amidst a Billville that looked like it was the site of
a scud missile . . .

It was 48 hours of mental snapshots that will bring a smile to me until I
die. (mental because I didn't have a CAMERA!!!)

I guess it can basically be summed up - it is only possible because this is a
huge group of people, some we know, some we met, some we will meet somewhere
else down the Trail - so it was a weekend spent with family, by definition of
the word.  People who care, people who make you cry by the awesome generosity
of their hearts, people who share a love for something that transcends any
other differences.  Being with hikers means being with people you can be
yourself with, and never suffer for it.