Farewell old friend

chimney_rock.jpg0940. Maupin Field shelter. A still, overcast contemplative day, early autumn crickets singing, an unidentified bird — or conceivably a frog — chirping monotonously in the muffled foliage. Green and moist. Dim in the forest. Made good time through the Three Ridges from our camp by the waterfall at Campbell Creek. Yesterday a heavenly dip in the cold pool below the the trickling waterfall — one of those golden moments that shines in memory. After two hard days of sweat and grime and hard climbing and rationing the last few ounces of water, we were cleansed in the natural spring.

A strong consciousness on this trip of the end of an era — my venerable old backpack, the Jansport “hatchback” that I coveted for months before buying it with money from my paper route (delivering the Washington Post from 8th through 12 grade, right through the Watergate years, which betrays my vintage), the pack that has seen so much mileage over the decades, my mobile home on the pack_flap.jpgwatershed 17-day hike one summer in high school through Georgia and NC from the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail — the tales this pack could tell. My trusted old friend will ride no more. Most zippers broken, the waterproofing flaking off, dry rot setting in, belt dysfunctional and killing my hips, shoulder strap tied on with a knot, the other one wrapped in duct tape. After more than three decades I’ve sweated through the mountains beneath this rig for the last time.

Farewell old friend.

About Emmett Duffy

I am a Natural Patriot and an ecologist with expertise in biodiversity and its importance to human society. My day job is Professor of Marine Science at the College of William and Mary in Virginia.
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3 Responses to Farewell old friend

  1. What nostalgia! That pack looks like a great friend. Love the pick of the mountains. Don’t know if they are, but they look like the smokeys. I liked this poetic post, well done.

  2. Jimmy O'Donnell says:

    Hi Emmett, I was just going through my old bookmarks and rediscovered your blog- good stuff. This post intrigued me, because I just sent an old Jansport pack in for service that has been down that very same section of the AT. Jansport has an excellent warranty policy, probably the best that I know of: completely free of charge, and without question or request for an original receipt of proof of purchase, they will repair or replace any bag bearing the Jansport name. Pretty nice policy- I know I won’t buy any other brand of backpack!

  3. Emmett Duffy says:

    Hey Jimmy – great to hear from you! Hope all is going well out west. Drop a line sometime.

    Yes, it was a sad day to say goodbye to the old warhorse. It was like a member of the family to me, but in the end it was too far gone for repair.