Pierce Pond Lean-to, 9/4, 155.3

Soundtrack sits by the fire singing Slip slidin’ away. Ferdy, toothpick, and I all sit down by the shoreline and Pierce Pond. The sun is setting over a hilltop on the side of the pond.

I’m cold from the swim and nervous about a curious leech dangling on my back somewhere I cannot reach. "Have you guys seen ‘Stand By Me’"?

I can usually tell the cool-ness of a group by the number of people who have seen that movie. Fifty percent or more is a cool positive group.

Bats skim the top of the water picking off the water striders. The students of Colby College on their orientation know exactly why we thru-hikers come out here. I know exactly why I am out here.

Soundtrack is from Michigan, came out here after college. He is a walking i-pod. Toothpick from North Carolina is tall and skinny. And Scooner and Ferdy from Illinois, well, I have no idea how they got their trail names.

What brought them together as hikers is that not one of them wants to leave the trail. Not one of them has any hint of a balance of desire for the backcountry and back home. Most every North bound hiker, so close to the finish, that I have met is pushing twenty-five mile days to get off the trail.

But after five months of hiking, half of which it rained, none of these guys has even once said the words "I can’t wait…". Scooner, Ferdy, Toothpick, and Soundtrack are loving life and the end is not even a consideration for them. I would bet they would turn around and head south if their lack of civilization’s green was not limiting them.

To them, when they celebrate on top of Katahdin, they’ll be celebrating an accomplishment and not what the next day holds.

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