My Father, who has had a few conversations with St. Peter at the Pearly Gates (who kept sending him back) is once again reunited with my Mother in happiness. He was 87 years old and his body had finally reached the point where it was ready to release his spirit. He passed peacefully between breakfast and lunch on St. Patrick's day. My sadness at knowing that I will never have a two way conversation with him again in this lifetime is tempered by a happiness that I know he is now with my Mother again, who my Father has missed every day since December of 2011, when she passed. He's with his Honey Babe now.
When I go back through my memories, I constantly see him as that tall, strong being. Always there for us, even when he was on a job far away from home, building man's structures. He was definitely the steady rock of our family.
My Father is also the one most responsible for my love of the outdoors and spending time hiking and camping. I remember as a pretty young child he would rent an old Scotty 6 sleeper and we would hitch it up to the Buick Stationwagon and head out for a traveling vacation. We would work our way to the beach and then the mountains. It was a great introduction to the woods and spending time there. In the 70s we had a camp up by Moraine State Park. We spent most of the summer up there and Dad would come up each night or on the weekends. He really liked to rake the leaves that filled the ground in our campsite. From there it was some time in the Boy Scouts and then going out on our own. Hiking and backpacking. He planted the seed which has grown to this Quest of a long distance hike on the Appalachian Trail.
He had a long life and he taught me many things. He had one wife, five children, nine grand children and two great-grandchildren. I like to think that he also had a good life. He was certainly a large part in me saying I'm having a great life.
|Shauni and her Pap|
I will miss him and his ready smile and easy laugh. I hope I can find a fitting tribute to him as I use his strength to reinforce me during this upcoming hike.
|Dad's last visit to the cabin|
Our gear sits in the basement in the "Gear" area and we constantly pitter with it. Adding this, deleting that. I have decided on my first four days of food and have started to fill my "operational" food bag with what I already have on hand as I check the shopping list that will complete the contents. We also started filling our only pre-planned food drop that we will be sending to Fontana Dam in North Carolina. Sort of a supplement to what we expect to find at the store in the village.
I have been collecting a lot of condiments in my last several years of doing sections and overnights, so we sorted through that and figured out what we are taking and what has been sitting at the bottom of my shopping bag sized food bag a little too long and needs to hit the trash.
|Food bags and resupply|
This upcoming Friday, we plan on heading up to my old stomping grounds in PA near the Museum to do a final overnight to once again become more familiar with our new hammocks and quilts. I also need to get some dirt time. Just some easy time outdoors for a while. Before we head to Toms Run Shelter, we will erect the portable Halfway Sign at its location for the 2017 hiking season. It is once again at Dead Woman's Hollow Rd, so we will put it there and hope to hike back to it, arriving some time in July if all bodes well.
My Before I HIke ToDo List is still pretty full, but I hope to start checking off some of them every day for a while. Things are scheduled. Things need to wait a bit still, but I'm confident it will all come together when it needs to and not a second before. Just like a traveling wizard always arrives precisely when he means to.
Georgia will be here before we know it and we will step out, with our backs heavy, but our hearts light to take on the challenge that is the Appalachian Trail and our Quest of Pamola.
EarthTone and LoGear
|Earl F. Harold Jr. 1929 - 2017|
and me :)