P.S. Send help

by Zoe C.

The Appalachian Trail Diary of
Maura Kelly Colleen O'Reilly Finnegan
Written by
Maura Kelly Colleen O'Reilly Finnegan
Illustrated by
Maura Kelly Colleen O'Reilly Finnegan
Edited by
Maura Kelly Colleen O'Reilly Finnegan Published by
Jane Q. Citizen Press

Sunday, 1 May

I'd rather be dead.

Tuesday, 3 May

Dear God. Just shoot me, it'd be more humane.

Wednesday, 4 May

Whose idea was this, anyway? I must've been stupider than I thought when I signed on for this stupid ass assignment. Jesus, could it be any worse? Yesterday it rained all friggin' day and by the time I reached the lean-to (aka heap of shit, mouse-infested shack) I was soaked so badly that I might as well have been hiking naked. I think I'm permanently pruney. And you better believe pruney is NOT a good look on me. I look like a raisin with legs.

And I have chafing. CHAFING, I say. My thighs are rubbed completely raw. They look like raw hamburger. It's enough to make me want to puke. They HURT!!

Wet wool stinks bad. It couldn't possibly smell any worse if I shoved my head up a wet sheep's ass.

And I won't even bother mentioning that I ache, I'm tired, I'm hungry, and I have a huge, gaping blister on my right heel that's oozing some sort of puke green, smelly fluid.

This is probably the high point of my day.

But I suppose I deserve it for letting Murray talk me into this. I swear to God I'm such a schmuck. I should just tattoo "DUMBFUCK" on my forehead and be done with it. (His should read "ASSHOLE".)

"Time alone to sort things out" he said. Moron.

"It'll make a great series of articles." Dick.

"It'll help you lose weight". I like being portly, thanks.

Speaking of packs (okay, I wasn't, but I needed a segue), I crested this short (Short? ha! The trail guide LIED!!!), easy (another outright LIE) hill this morning, and when I saw more short, easy hills as far as the bloodshot eye could see, all I wanted to do at that point was chunk my god-blamed pack and every fucking thing in it over the side of the mountain.

I should've hired someone to carry this idiot thing. Or rented a llama. (couldn't smell any worse than I do, for Christ sake)

Can you ride a llama? They got souvenir shops along the trail?

"Hi. I'm looking for your top of the line, luxury model llama. You got any in stock? I'd like it in a light pearl gray, extra-soft, non-itchy wool, thanks."

Or I should've just stayed at home in bed with the curtains closed and the covers over my head.

Damn. Now I have to go pee. And it's almost dark. I hate going out there in the dark. Christ knows what's lurking out there waiting to get me.

FUCK! I have to go.

Back. Nothing got me (obviously). Too bad. A mauling by a bear couldn't make me feel any worse right now.

Time to fire up the old stove to make dinner. It's this single burner propane piece of junk that has yet to work properly. Whoever wrote the directions to the idiot thing oughta be shot between the eyes. Last night it took me the better part of an hour trying to light the bastard. I wrestled it to the ground, but it put the big ol' smack down on me. I finally gave up and just ate a piece of pita bread with peanut butter and a granola bar. Whoopdy-friggin-do.

Here's a good one... I met some northbound thru-hikers this morning. They started down south (duh. Why else would they be going north?), and the morons were still smiling after thousands of miles. Said what a great day they were having.

They must smoke dope.

"Step away from the crack pipe, kids."

I shoulda heaved them over the side of the mountain. Assholes.

ALRIGHT! I'm going. I hear a big ol' envelope of Lipton Oodles of Noodles calling my name. Yippy. Fucking stove better work.

WoooHOOOO!!! I got it to work on the first try. There I was cursing the piece of junk up one side and down the other when it made a tiny little sound and poofed on. Nothing beats a hot cup of soup and a bagel (only half. I was actually full after all that. Go figure). Now I'm sipping on some hot choc and eating a handful of GORP.

Good God I'm tired.

Thursday, 5 May

I hate birds.

I hate trees.

I hate leaves

and rocks

and stones

and grass

and bugs.

Oh yeah, and I hate Murray (the rat bastard).


Friday, 6 May

Another wonderful day on the good old Appalachian Trail. I've determined that God and Murray both, hate me.

It didn't start off too badly this morning, to be honest. Last night, after brushing my teeth and washing up with ice cold water (that was less fun than shoving bamboo splinters under my fingernails), I threw on my extra wool sweater and socks (it's fucking cold out here at night... and during the day... and at twilight... and at dawn...), and slithered into my bag. Slept good until some dumbass bird started pecking on a tree out there. At first it scared the shit out of me because I thought someone was knocking on the door and I couldn't figure out who it would be. I mean, I'm in the middle of God's country... for God's sake, man! A thousand different battle tactics flashed through my mind... in about a New York second. Shooting... no gun. Stabbing... my three inch pocket knife is pretty useless as a weapon, I would think. Bludgeoning... not a freaking blunt weapon in sight.

So I decided the best course of action was to lay there and pretend I was already dead.

But then I cried, "Eureka!" because there isn't a door, these loveshacks only have 3 sides. After I figured that out, it just plain pissed me off. If I DID have a gun, I woulda shot the stupid thing.

Him and Murray both.


After a quick breakfast of warmed pita bread, coffee, and yet another granola bar (what can I say? keeps me regular), I grabbed my roll of TP and my trowel (I emulate the cat, whatever the fuck that means. Actually, I dig a small hole, leave a few friends, then bury them)

Now where the hell was I? Oh yeah, on the GOD-FORSAKEN APPALACHIAN TRAIL!!!!!!!!!!

But anyway, I went for my morning constitutional (less than a week after starting this NIGHTMARE, I can poopy in the woods. Cool, huh? I'm so damned proud of myself). Then I hoisted (like that word?) my pack and went on my very merry way.

That lasted maybe an hour, tops.

I started to get warm, right? So I took off my windbreaker/raincoat/thingamajig (whatever), and I'll be damned if it didn't start to POUR 10 minutes later. Another day of swimming the ol' Appalachian POND instead of hiking it.

Hey, sounds like someone is coming. COMPANY!!! Cool.

Company, my ass. It was some kid and his girl doing a week hike. Nice, but I think they're dopeheads. His trail name is Scrounge, and hers is Tweety.

I think mine oughta be RETARD.

I told them my trail name is Pinhead. I don't think they believed me. Shows what they know.

I better think of a real t-name.

Dink? Uh, no.

Dippingham? No thank you.

Dooda? Ha ha.

I see I'm on this D kick.

DAISY! That's it, I'll be Daisy.





I like it.

Yay, now they want to make small talk.

I hate small talk.

Well, here's the extent of our conversation-


"How's goin'?" or whatever Scroungey-boy said. I couldn't really tell because he looked like he had a mouthful of something green. And viscous. Sorta like the stuff that was weeping from my blister a couple days ago. Pretty tasty looking.

"Sup?" Tweety

"Nuttin" Me

"Like, cool, dude." Scrounge

"Way cool, man." Airhead

"In case you two clowns hadn't noticed, I'm a woman... a DUDETTE. Assholes. Night."

Okay, I didn't say that last bit, exactly, but I sure as hell wanted to. The conversation lasted all of... oh, 32.5 seconds. Then I came back to my bag. I left them sitting around the fire ring smoking some weed.

Or at least I think it was weed. Could've been honest-to-God wild weeds, for all I know.

Shit. I hope they're not going my way.

Saturday, 7 May

I am relaxing in my slumber bag by the waning light of the dying sun. The sun is setting over the western horizon like a giant, blazing sphere in the cerulean sky of near-twilight.


It's cold, I'm tired, and I'm hating Murray.




I'll never understand what possessed me to go along with that Fat Ass' "brilliant" (HA!) idea.

1. I thought I needed a change. But, Christ, I could've bought a BOAT and had a cool change like the Little River Dudes. Wouldn't have required so much physical exertion.

2. I was lonely. Shoulda bought a CAT.

3. I needed to clear my head. Fans were on sale at Wal-Mart, now that I think about it. Damn, I missed it.


Ah hell, there is no 4. I thought... I thought nothing. It's that simple. I deserve this. Honest to God, I do. I went along with his fucking idea, so I deserve to be tortured and crucified like this. It serves me right.

All these hours alone with myself really suck.

Maybe someday I'll be glad I did this.

Or not.

I'm hungry. Probably because I actually ate pretty good today. This morning, at the crack of ass (did I mention yet that I hate birds?), I was munching on some GORP and toasted pita (okay, I stuck the fucker on a stick and held a match under it until the match burned out) with a spritz of peanut butter (don't ask how to spritz peanut butter. I don't know, and I don't really give a shit. It just sounds good) and touch of cinnamon and sugar. A little piss-warm cocoa washed it down. Then for lunch I had tuna and Italian dressing (I have about 6 million of those little packages they give you at McDonald's. I went "shopping" there before I left.) in a pita, with some dried apricot and banana chips. The apricot chips were tasty. Kinda sweet.

This fine evening I think I'll have some shells and sauce with half a bagel.

Something interesting (I doubt it) I read in one of those worthless trail guides written by some schmuck who never set foot on a trail- reuse pasta water for hot cocoa. Choc masks the starchy taste & you get the benefit of extra carbs.

Sounds like it'll taste like shit. But I'll give it a whirl. The most I'll do is waste an envelope of hc. I have about 12 dozen of those, so I can stand to waste one or two in the interest of scientific experimentation.

Well, there you have it. I'll be damned if it didn't work. It tastes okay. So, here I am just lounging by the fire (that I started, thank you kindly) under the stars. It's pr

Jesus God up above. A skunk just waddled across the clearing. For the love of Christ and all the saints in heaven. I smelled the fat fuck from here and it was a good 25 ft away. I just closed my eyes & prayed the bastard would leave.

It did, praise God. It didn't spray or anything. I'd have just laid here sobbing if it did. I read that it takes WEEKS to get the stink out of your clothes and skin and stuff, if you even can at all. It's either wait or burn everything that got sprayed.

Or I'd have been pissed enough to hunt it down and kill it barehanded. Just like my Native American ancestors used to do.

Too bad I'm 100% Irish and not Native American. Oh well. I still woulda killed the beasty thing.

You know something? This idiot trail guide said it was just over 5 miles from the last lean-to to this one. I quote: "The segment of trail from the Poplar Run shelter to the Hickory Downs shelter has a moderate 5% incline. The trail is well maintained by the local AT (Appalachian Trail) Club. The total length of trail is 5.4 miles."

They must not have had their meeting this month. Well-maintained, my ass. This morning, I came up on this tree that fell across the trail. You want to know what I had to do? I had to take my pack off, heave it OVER the tree, then crawl UNDER it myself. Can you believe that crap? I thought about just going around, but I was too afraid I'd get lost and remain forever wandering in the woods of northern Maine, looking for my shoes that are on my feet. Or whatever.

And a moderate incline, their ass. I was practically crawling up that "moderate" hill. Everything I own, from my underwear to my boots is muddy.

At least I'm color coordinated.


Tomorrow is Sunday. Maybe I'll take a day of rest, wash clothes, and thank the good Lord above for sending me on this most wondrous journey of self-exploration and discovery.

Self-exploration. Heh.

Scrap the thanking God bit. Instead I'll curse Murray. That's more fun.

Gee, I'm feeling up for a little self-exploration.

Feeling up. Heh.

Sunday, 8 May

It's a lovely day. Really. It's not raining. It's not cold. I'm not freezing. It's quite nice for a change. The sun is warm, bless my soul.

Let's see, today I did wash my clothes. Used a bit of that baby shampoo I brought with me for just that purpose- washing clothes (and me). Some stupid book that I read said "Do not use soap on clothes, as it is difficult to rinse out all the soap, and residual soap on clothes can cause skin irritations and rashes."

Up yours, pal. My clothes stink and need to be washed, especially my underwear.

Maybe I just won't wear any anymore.

Now THERE'S a plan if I've ever heard one. Blech. Talk about stink...

I even washed my hair and took a sponge bath (now that was just LOADS of fun). All with COLD water, of course. Although I did heat up a pot of water to take the chill off. Keep in mind that the friggin' pot is about two cups big. Two cups. Two cups to rinse my hair. Do you have ANY idea how many two cup pots it takes to rinse my hair? Believe me, it takes a LOT.

ad infinitum, or

however you say


And it seems that cold water does nothing to tame this rat's nest I call my hair. I shoulda shaved my head before I came out here. Now, because I have no conditioner, it's frizzier than it normally is.

HEY! Maybe I'll braid it and leave the braids in. Go for that dreadlock look.

Oh yeah, that's rich. That'd look wonderful with my orange hair, freckled skin, and round face. I can see it now...

RUN! Don't WALK! It's Gossamer, the IRISH BEAST!!!!! Auugghhh!!!

Sounds great, doesn't it?

Anyhoooo, my clothes, what there are of them, are hanging on the bushes to dry. Speaking of clothes, here's what I packed:

-3 pairs underwear (I just turn 'em inside out the next day. Smart, huh?)

-2 prs cotton liner socks

-1 pr wool socks

-1 pr army pants (I got 'em on sale at the army/navy surplus. They're all the rage... in country, thank you very much. They're the latest fad... with guerrilla fighters, maybe. Or Jane Goodall, Monkey Woman extraordinaire)

-1 sportsbra (hot pink checked)

-2 standard-issue 2X-large, white men's v-neck t-shirts

-1 long-sleeved flannel shirt

-1 wool ski hat (with ties, to wear at night when my ears damn near freeze off)

-1 pr gloves

-1 rainsuit consisting of poncho and pants (in safety orange… they match my hair)

-2 bandannas

-water shoes (to wear around the shack, I mean shelter, and for water activities. Heh. I like activities that make me wet)

All of which is shoved inside a heavy-duty garbage bag then shoved inside my pack, which is shoved up my ass.

Kidding. At least about the shoved up my ass part.

On top of that, I wear the following (all that up there is just extra stuff. I can't wait until it's warm enough that I can burn it and carry a couple pairs of shorts and nothing else. Or maybe I'll go aboriginal and just wear a loincloth. That'd be pretty. NOT):

-underwear & bra

-army pants (urban assault this time... quite lovely to look upon, I'm sure)


-flannel shirt (with collar to turn up in case of inclement weather or when I want to go incognito)

-wool sweater (that Gran knit... I hope it rots to shreds out here, it's so fucking ugly. It's this hideous shade of orange, and it's fuzzy and nappy... oh wait, that's my hair, not the sweater. Whoopsy)

-socks (liner and wool)

-boots (that are finally getting broken in. No more gaping wounds for me)

-gaiters (to cover my boots and lower legs. They don't do much when it pours, but they look damned good)

-1 surplus desert army hat (with neck loop)

That's it. The rainsuit I keep handy for those times (every goddamned day) when it rains. By the time I get it out and on, though, it's too late. I'm soaked and squishing.

The book I read suggested all this fancy shit... polypropylene, synthetic this, polartec that. I just raided my dad's closet and picked up the rest at the a/n store. I spent a whopping $57.22 there. Or rather Murray did. I made the fat bastard buy everything. It's the least the shit could do.

I may look like somebody's orphan cousin, but it works. I'm not too fucking cold.

Most of the time.

So that's my clothing list.

I better go make something to eat then pack all this stuff back up so I can move out tomorrow.

I sound so John Wayne.

Tuesday, 9 May

This blows. God, who the fuck knew it'd be so LONELY?!?!?!

But, the goods news (or less bad news) is that I should be at my first mail stop by Thursday. Gotta resupply.

There's that John Wayne thing again.

Falling Elm is this tiny little town that I mailed a package to right before I left. Extra supplies and stuff. Murray's supposed to be mailing stuff to the rest of the mail stops.

When I get there, I'm gonna call Murray and tell HIM to do this stupid trail hike thing and I'll go home.

And do his wife.

HA! She'd probably divorce the ass and want to move in with me. I've seen her, thanks. Here's what she looks like (on a GOOD day).

Stuff of nightmares, I tell you.

But the daughter... wooey, now she's a looker.

If you're into Pug dogs.

Anyway, enough about clan of the cave bear. Today's big news... went through a field of early wildflowers and saw lots of pretty, colorful butterflies. I tried to see how many I could crush under the heel of my boot. Got 8 of the winged creatures before I got out of the field.

So that's that.

I need a hobby. I doubt mortally wounding innocent insects counts.

Well, in MY circle of friends it does.

Wednesday, 10 May

Well FUCK. I didn't make town today. Fuck, I didn't even make the next shelter, much less town. So here I am, my first night REALLY on the trail.

I'm scared shitless. Good thing I at least followed the book and packed extra food.

I swear to God, I feel like someone's watching me.

Fucking spooky.

So, to keep my mind off the fact that I'm alone in some backwoods... woods, no people around for MILLIONS of miles, here's what happened to me today.

I met a stream (and introduced myself quite politely, but it never answered back, the spineless prick), and instead of crossing right there on the trail like I SHOULD have, I got the brilliantly genius idea to hike downstream a ways to see if there was a better spot.

HELLO?? The first rule of hiking... stay on the fucking trail, no matter how stupid it seems. Serves me right, I guess. I swear, I must've hiked 8 miles out of my way. And I never found a good spot, either. Had to wade through in water thigh deep. It would've been only about ankle deep at the trail.

I'm such a bonehead.

Let's see... equipment. I listed my clothes, what there is of them, and now how 'bout my equipment?

Right-o, then.

And I'm just writing so I don't get too spooked out. It's getting darker. The woods grow more menacing by the minute. The savage beasts awaken from their slumber, hungry for the taste of human flesh and thirsting for blood. Saliva drips from gleaming, wicked, sharp fangs as the beasts go on their midnight prowl fo




Fuck him and his series.

Christ! You know it's time to go home when a snapping twig makes you piss yourself. Literally.

Holy shit... someone IS coming. Hang on.

Well well well. PS Somebodyorother has just made her grand entrance into my rustic little home-away-from-home in the woods of northern Maine. She strolled right on through like she owned the place. Truth be told, I'm camped right on the trail. Fuck whoever said to camp off the trail. It's even darker up in the woods, and thereby spookier.

Anyway, she smiled, said hi, then just moved on. Next thing I know, she's back. For Christ sake, how do I know she's not some kind of serial killer preying on innocent, solitary hikers?

Too bad she doesn't look the type. She's about 18 feet tall (okay, maybe 5'9 tops. But to my whopping 5'1.5, she LOOKS 18 feet tall.), built like a sycamore tree, and dark as the darkest night. Yup, that's right, she's obviously African-American (see? I can be politically correct), and she's mighty sturdy looking.

That's another way of saying BUFF.

It's the eyes. They're not shifty and beady like a killers. Not that I've seen many killers up close. Okay, no killers up close, but they're supposed to have shifty, beady eyes, aren't they? Hers, though, are big and chocolatey and... honest. And her smile when she came back looked open and friendly-like.

But I'm not going to be fooled that easily. No, sir. Not me. I'll be sleeping with one eye open tonight, that's for sure.

Anyway here's how our conversation went...

"Hi." Her

"What do you want?" Swear to God I asked that. No greeting, no smile, nothing.

"Well, I was on my way to the next shelter, but you looked kinda lonely, so I decided to come back and keep you company."

Gee, that's mighty whi- nice of you, Granola girl. But I didn't say that, praise God. She probably woulda yanked me up by my kinky orange hair and put a whoopin' on me second to none.

Too bad she didn't, I might've LIKED it.

She asked me my name and I told her Retard. I don't think she found that funny. I did. She just looked at me. And waited.

I told her Daisy. Seemed more agreeable to that.

Then she sat down across the trail. Never told me her name. So I had to ask.


That's all she said.

Next thing I know, she's opening up her pack (which is the size of a bookbag, for God's sake), looking like she's getting comfy.

What the fuck? PS- Get outta my camp.

I just asked her what PS stands for. Know what she said? Of course you don't. You weren't here. Postage Stamp. Said that's her name.

Do I LOOK stupid?

Don't answer that.

So here we sit. Me next to my surplus bivy tent, her near her... tube tent. And that would be... what?

PS- Get a real tent.

Jesus, you oughta see what she's carrying.

And that would be NO-THING. Or sorta nothing, anyway.

Wanna know what she pulled out of her pack? A stupid little metal box. She unfolded it and set it on a flat rock, then she unhooked some kinda canvas sack from her belt and pulled twigs and shit out of it. Shoved most of it into her metal box.

I'd like to shove MY twig into her metal box.


Holy SMOKES! I swear to God she just used two rocks to make a fire. What the fuck is that all about? Rocks and fire?

Oooh, I gotta watch this.

Wow. I think I'm impressed. Ol' PS said it was flint and steel. I had no ever-loving idea they still made that stuff. Go figure.

Wait. She's doing something else.

A pot. She just took a pot like mine from her pack.

HARK! Now she's setting the pot on the stove-thing an

Bitch! She just scared the shit out of me. Here I am studying her every move and POW! she slapped a bug off her shoulder. Fuck. I thought she was coming for me. Made me fall right off the ground.

Believe me that looks stupid.

I think my hair is standing up even more now.

And I think I saw her smirk.

PS- I hate you.

Friday, 13 May

It's Friday the 13th.

And a goddamned full moon.


Good thing Granola girl is still with me.

PS- Don't let me die.

At least not alone.


Well now, it's been a while (okay, only one fucking day, but who's counting?), but I think I've finally come to terms with having PS around. She's not bad, really.

If she'd shut up and stop telling me about the indigenous flora and fauna, that is.

Who gives a rat's ass about the flora and fauna, indigenous or not? Not me, I say.

You know that old song by Men at Work. Land down under (I bet you the old gal has a mighty fine land down under.), or whatever it's called? There's that part in the very beginning that goes(and make sure you sing it to the right tune, damn it)-

Wearin' Fitch and Abercrombie

On a hippie trail head full of zombies (fitting for Friday the 13th, huh?)

I met a strange lady

She made me horny

But she looked at me like I was corny.

OH! I want to stroke her land down under

Without so much as one slight little blunder

Can't you feel, can't you feel me down under?

PS- don't run, PS- don't take cover.


I certainly could've sang with Crosby, Stills, and Nash.


I offered to share my dinner with her, but she just waved a power bar at me. Guess that means no.

Good. More for me.

When I lit up my GAS stove, she looked at me with strong disapproval. So I crossed my eyes at her and made a face. Then I went about my business.

I am fucking TIRED!

And she's very good.


Saturday, 14 May

I'm sitting on a bed writing this.

Yup, that's right. A bed. You know, that metal thing that has a mattress, some sheets and blankets, a pillow or two? An honest-to-God BED!!!!!


And I actually smell like something other than smoke and b.o. It's wonderful. I felt so decadent in the shower earlier this afternoon. Kinda like I was bathing in butterscotch syrup. (What do you want? I don't like chocolate.) It took about twenty minutes to scrub all the grime and stink off. I almost asked for a brillo pad, but I didn't figure it would help my ever-so delicate skin very much.

Anyway, after my wonderfully luxurious and refreshing shower, Granola girl came for me.

Not like THAT.

At my door.

I mean, she knocked on my door to "escort" me to the general store. She escorts me a lot, I noticed.

So I grabbed my wallet and followed ol' Postage Stamp right out of the house we're staying in. This really old (we're talking ANCIENT here. I think they personally knew Noah. Or at least Moses.) couple has a couple of extra rooms they rent out to hikers. There's a bathroom and we can use the washer and dryer. Mrs. serves us breakfast in the morning, too. All for $12.00. Now that's a bargain.

Back to my wallet. I grabbed it. Like I already said. It has my calling card in it, and I fully intended on using it to call Murray so I could tell him just what I think of this fucking field trip to Shangri-La he sent me on.

We strolled down Oak and made a left onto Main Street.

Want to know what Main St. Falling Elm, ME consists of? A feed store, a general store/laundry, and the post office. I felt like I was doing the Time Warp (again). I mean, after all, it's just a hop to the left, then a step to the right. And some other things.

I think.

But wait. Before I get started on THAT little tidbit, let me start with this morning.

Once again I was up at the crack of ass, but as I peeked out of my no-see-um net window, guarenteed to keep no-see-ums out... what the fuck is a no-see-um, anyway? Me-um don't know-um. And if you can't see-um, how the hell do you know they're there? According to the (worthless) manual I read, they're a tiny little biting fly that's a real nuisance in these parts.

How is that possible? If it's so small you can't even see-um, how can you possibly feel-um? I think it's just the tent company's way of getting more monkeys out of us schmuck-ums.

Good thing I didn't buy that thing. Guess who did? That's right... MURRAY!!

So, ANYWAY, when I looked out the stupid window, there she was, sitting near her tube tent. In a tube top. Definitely something terrific to wake up to, that's for sure.

I didn't know if she was sleeping or communing with Mother Nature. So I did the only thing I could.

I screamed at the top of my lungs. I think I strained something I screamed so loud.

It was funny. At least I thought so.

She snapped her head up so fast I heard all her bones crack.

She glared at me, but I just unzipped my no-see-um (whatever) window enough to stick my hand out and wiggle my fingers.

She didn't talk to me the rest of the day.

That made me quite thankful. I didn't have to hear another hours-long lecture on AT etiquette or indigenous somethingorother.

PS- Thanks for being mad.

We made it here just after noon. And then it was shower time.

Apparently PS has done this backpacking thing enough around here to know the people. She led me right to the old folks' home and chatted with them like they were bestfriends.

So then she came to get me and we walked over to the general store.

Walking down the street was like freakin' "High Noon".

Only in technocolor.

I expected to see gunslingers lurking in every shadow. If I closed one of my eyes and tilted my head to the side, the guy I saw reading the paper (all of 10 pages, just so you know. That's not even a quarter of the classifieds at home, for Christ sake) looked a lot like Cary Grant.

Or maybe Drew Cary, I'm not really sure.

It was the glare, what you do want?

Anyway, my girl PS led me to the store. What an experience that was. Now I know how Rod Serling felt tripping it to the Twilight Zone.

We walked up to this old guy sitting in a chair with his feet up on the rail. I swear to God I thought he was dead. PS started talking to him, but, hell, I looked around for a stick to poke him with to check if he was alive.

I almost fell off the porch when he answered her. He never even moved. Not one muscle of his body moved. He was sitting on the porch of the store, his head slumped on his chest that was slumped on his body that was slumped in the chair. He had a big, dusty cowboy hat perched on his head, covering his face. I bet he's still there.

Anyway, she asked how the weather'd been lately. I thought "Holy fuck, who cares? Where's the food and the phone?"

After schmoozing the old guy for a decade or so, we went inside. Know what he said? "Help yerselves."

He never came in with us. PS told me to just leave the money on the counter.

Back home, when (if) he came back in, he'd see an empty store. They'd even steal the cobwebs and dead flies.

When I saw the place, I know my jaw dropped to the floor. "We're not in Kansans anymore, Toto."

Without even acknowledging me or my pithy comment, Toto went shopping.

PS- I ain't nevuh liked you.

While she looked around, I used the phone. Called Murray (who else?). When he answered I told him if he didn't spring me from Xanadu here, I was going to slit his throat, the prick bastard. Kubla Khan laughed, the asshole. Told me I haven't even been gone 2 weeks yet, give it one more week. Whatever. The last time I listened to him, I freaking ended up HERE.

So I hung up on him. After promising to get even with him, of course.

Maybe I'll Iron Maiden him. And I don't mean sing, either.

Or not. It'd be more satisfying to keep him alive so I can torture him for countless years to come.

Okay, here's the bad news for today (like being stuck here wasn't bad enough,). PS told me we're heading into the 100 Miles tomorrow.

100 fucking miles without a place to stop for supplies. Holy FUCK! I have to carry food for at least two weeks. My God, is that even possible? I looked at her in complete terror with a touch of horror thrown in for good measure. I asked if she was kidding. When she shook her head, I did the only thing left to me under the circumstances.

I threw myself at her and sobbed uncontrollably.

If I wasn't so preoccupied with fright, I would've laughed at the look on her face. She looked at me in horror. And she kept pushing me away, trying to get me off.

I wished she would've kept trying. I wanted her to get me off.


100 MILES!!!!!!!!!!!! Holy Christ, I can't do that!

I think she patted me a half dozen times or so on the head, assuring me that I could do it. I felt vaguely canine-like.

We didn't buy anything at the store except a Pepsi each. And I bought licorice.

Dinner of champions, BABY!

Why we went to the general store is beyond me. PS said there's a Wal-Mart about 20 minutes away.

WOOOOOOHOOOOOOOO!!!!! God bless Wal-Mart!!

On our way back to the old folks' home (I laugh every time I write that), we stopped at the post office. My bathroom at home is bigger than the po here.

I picked up my box and kissed it non-stop as we walked back to the house. When we got to my room, I opened the door and PS sort of hovered there in the doorway until I said, "Well get the hell in here and see what I got. Jesus."

"No. It's PS."

She's so very funny. NOT.

So anyway, I opened my box and dumped it onto the bed. More hc, pita, and packets of Lipton soup. And, wonder of wonders... a bag of Hugs. Hershey's Hugs, to be exact. I had forgotten I put those in there.


And there was some cash tucked into a new pair of wool socks. I think I'm going to mail my worst looking pair to Murray and tell him that's what I think of his field trip.

New socks... ah, the luxuries of life.

PS looked at the contents of my package with disdain. I shrugged, flipped her off, and told her I wasn't the bug-and-slug type like she is. She just shook her head and left.

See if I offer HER any hc.

Right now, I'm waiting for her to find us a chariot. Then she'll be back to escort me (there she goes again) to Wally-World.

Well, I'm back. We got in about 15 minutes ago from Marty. My pack is going to be 80 lbs heavier (give or take), and Murray is going to be about $50 lighter. Made him give me a company credit card which I just put to good use.

I mostly got pita bread, bagels, a couple of boxes of Velveeta mac & cheese (that I'll shove into some bags and toss the boxes) and squeeze cheese.

I fucking HATE squeeze cheese, but apparently, according to Miss Appalachian Trail, it has a shelf-life of about 7,000 years in an indestructible can. I think she said the Pharoahs in ancient Eypt filled this very can.

Maybe that's what she said. I ended up leaving her flapping her gums in the food aisle while I went carousing. I mean browsing. I just walked away. I don't even think she noticed that I wasn't there anymore, to be honest.

Also bought more water tablets, a bottle of chewable vitamins (I especially like to eat Wilma), and a snappy red-with-rainbow-brim hat to replace my boonie hat. The vitamins were her idea. Said I'd need the extra boost before long.

Fuck that. I'm hoping to be home before long.

Oh yeah! PS found me a tube tent like hers. So I bought it. It weighs like 22 oz, and my real tent weighs almost 7,000 lbs.

So long tent, hello tube!

I'm going to mail my other tent home to Murray along with the used socks.

Tried to find a tube TOP to match my tube TENT, but my search was fruitless. I was unable to find that which I was looking. For. I think that sentence is supposed to end with for. But that makes it a dangling participle.

I think.

Imagine that... I have a dual degree in English and Journalism, and I have no idea how that sentence should be written. Huh.

Well, here's a sentence I DO know how to write... who gives a fuck?


I also picked up a stove like PS's- apparently it's a Sterno. Instead of propane for fuel, it uses canned fuel. Pink, booger-looking stuff. It's like pink jello... only worse. I bought 6 of the booger cannisters. They burn for 6 hours a piece the label said.

Believe it or not, I DID read the label. I don't relish the idea of blowing myself to smithereens. The only thing left to identify my remains would be my kinky hair.

By the way, I braided it. There are about 6 bazillion braids, and I used colored bands (which I purchased at the Store of all stores) to secure them. Hell of a good look.

We ate at the snack bar at Wal-Mart. I had a burger with the works, some fries, and an Icee. I got a HUGE kick out of watching PS's face every time I slurped. The more disgusted she looked, the louder I slurped.

Then I burped really loudly. Loud enough for the other customers to look at me and shake their heads. Fuck it, I'll never see any of them again. PS got up and left the table without another word after that. Didn't say anything to me on the way back here, either.

Which, in itself, isn't a bad thing, but she's hiking with me for a 100 miles. If she's not talking to me, that could be a bit uncomfortable.

If I cared. Which I don't.

PS- Who gives a shit?

I couldn't stand 5 miles of her yapping at me about whatever. Can't figure how I'll stand 100 miles. At about mile 3, PS will start sounding like the teacher from Peanuts, I bet.

"Waa wa waa wa wa."

You know, after this fiasco, I'm going to make Murray send me to a bunch of Mexican beach resorts. I think many more people would enjoy a series of articles on THAT, rather than THIS crap.

Okay, enough. I better finish packing and get some shut-eye before we move out tomorrow.

Move over, John Wayne!

Sunday, 15 May


We made it to the first shelter, but not by much.

Christ, I don't have enough energy to fart, much less write. But I'll try.


Now I sound like some sort of martyr, or something. I wonder if they have any AT martyrs? I wonder if they have any trail-side churches.

Hell, if they don't have SOUVENIR shops, I doubt they have a church.

Okay, just let me say that PS, whatever the fuck it stands for, SHOULD stand for Sergeant Psycho.

Oh wait, the letters are in the wrong order. Fuck it. I'm going to call her Sarge anyway.

It started snowing as soon as we got into the clearing. A shack never, EVER looked so beautiful to me. She damn near killed me today, the witch.

I have water boiling for hot choc and soup, so let me start the story while I wait. The new stove is so much lighter and easier to start, btw.

THANK GOD!!!!!!!!!!!

So we were up before the light of day, and I grabbed another shower, this one eons quicker than the one yesterday. My hair feels rather funny with the zillions of tiny braids. But, boy, is it easier to take care of.

Mrs. served us hc, toast, eggs, sausage (which I didn't eat because it gives me the hops), and blueberry muffins (which I DID eat). There was also orange juice, but I declined because I'd be belching up stomach bile for a week if I did. Can you say acid reflux?

We were back on the trail by 7:00. PS told me at breakfast that it's a hard first day, but I didn't believe her.

PS- The scales have been lifted!!

We stopped for 20 minutes around noon for lunch. I had enough energy to gnaw on pita and a granola bar. I also drank both of my quarts of water, which turned me into the Pissing Fury this afternoon.

PS informed me that there was a stream about a hundred yards from the trail.

Well, the hundred yards turned out to be down this stupidly steep hill. I slid all the way down on my ass (which now looks like I crapped my knickers, thanks). When I finally hit bottom (Murray definitely hit bottom with this "assignment" of his, the fuckhead), I plunged my face right into the stream.

I don't give a shit if I contract giardia. Supposedly it's this really bad disease you get from drinking bad water. Kinda like Montezuma's Revenge. Talk about the hops...

It'll give me a non-excuse to get off this furkin' trail.

I HATE MURRAY!!!!!!!!!!

I just screamed that at the top of my lungs. I don't know if PS dropped off to sleep suddenly or dropped dead suddenly. Jeez, should I be worried?

Oh, wait. She's okay. But as she picked herself up off the ground I thought I heard her mutter something like she's going to grind my face into the ground with the heel of her boot.

Or maybe it was she's bound to feel up me with a root. How am I supposed to know? I'm on the opposite side of the shack.

Which is good because she'd probably kill me after the screaming gig.

Buuuuuut, back to today...

Like I said, PS told me it was a hard day, but she didn't tell me quite how hard. We hiked 8 freaking miles up and down these freaking hills... Christ, it SUCKED.

And Sarge there wouldn't let me rest for NOTHING.

And when I asked her to help me back up from the stream, she laughed. Really loudly.

There I was, down at the foot of this mountain, asking for help, and she laughed.

"PS- Send help!"

She just shook her head and laughed. I was so goddamned mad that I marched up that hill like it was nothing.

PS was laughing so hard that she couldn't even answer me when I demanded she tell me why she was laughing.

I went to dump my water on her head when I noticed that I didn't have my fucking bottles with me!!!

Seeing that, PS went into hysterics.

Jesus, I could've kicked her. Instead, I picked up a pinecone and whipped it at her head.

I missed.

Of course.

After retrieving my dumbass bottles, I hoisted (I still like that word) my dumbass pack and left in a dumbass huff.

I didn't stop for over an hour. And only then because I had to pee. I walked in solitude (HA! She was right behind me the whole frigging time).

PS- I still hate you.

But we made it here in one piece, only to have it snow on us.


Fucking A snow! Big, fat, wet stuff.

Jesus, I must be going crazy. That just turned me on. Holy JESUS!!

I just looked up and saw that it's starting to stick now, too.

Fuck. Snow in May? That's freaking nuts! In the city, we get snow maybe once every three years or so.

Damned glad I have my woolies.

God bless you, Gran.

So here I am, swaddled in my -20* sleeping bag with all my wool stuffs on.

PS is across the shack (she's about an arm's length away, that's how small this little bit of heaven is) looking pretty fucking miserable.

Actually, she's turning blue from the cold. Or she would be if I could tell. But she's so dark that I can't.

Poor thing.


Hey, I'm not the one who didn't pack anything smart here. She is, for Christ's sake.

Whoopy! The water is boiling.

Monday, 16 May

WE'RE STUCK HERE!!!!!! PS said it wasn't a good idea to try to hike in this weather.

Dear God, what if we never get out of here? We'll DIIIIIIIIIEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!

Okay, so maybe it's not THAT bad. I just have a tendency to over-react and stuff. Not that you could tell or anything, though.

We're going to stay one more day here and let the snow stop. We're pretty comfortable in the shack, so it won't be so bad.

I can only pray.

Last night was... pretty wonderful.

It started with dinner. I asked her if she wanted some hc (Christ, I must have 40,000 packets of the stuff), and, wonder of wonders, she said yes. So I gave her some, and when the water was ready again, I offered soup. She took that, too.

I was sitting on my bag later, kinda snug, when PS got up and stood at the ledge of the shelter.

The fucking thing is about 4 1/2' off the ground, and I had to use a stump from the fire ring to get up here when got here. The morons who built this place must be at LEAST 8 feet tall.

Probably relatives of PS.

But I got up here. It's a bitch to get down to pee, though.

But there I was, sitting on my toasty warm bag, wondering if PS was desperate enough to jump. I couldn't figure out if she really thought she'd hurt herself if she jumped 4'.

She didn't. Jump OR hurt herself, that is.

She turned and asked me if I had my tent.

I must've looked at her like she was nuts because then she started talking really slowly. Like I was nuts, or something.

"Do. You. Have. Your. TENT?"

"Yes. I. DO!"

She wanted it because she rigged hers and mine both up in the doorway to block some of the snow and wind. But even without it, it wasn't so bad. It's better now, though.

PS said it was to keep me warmer, but I think it was for her, really. She only has a little fleece sleeping bag. Not much warmth on SNOWY days, but, hey, I didn't pack her pack.

I tried so hard not to feel sorry for her, but I did. And that pissed me off. So I yanked my extra wool sweater, socks, and my rain pants out of my pack and threw them at her.

"Next time pack RIGHT!"

I swear I screeched it at her like some kind of fish-monger's wife. Jesus.

Boy, I sure am dramatic sometimes. Hoky SMOKES!!

But, she put them on.

Then I slumped back on my bag and lay there with my arm over my eyes, mumbling incoherently. Until I ventured a look at PS.

Hoo BOY! That was a mistake. A really BIG one. She looks so ridiculously STUPID in my clothes. I peeked at her with one eye and saw her sitting on her bag. She was wearing my sweater and it would've looked okay on her, I guess, if it wasn't 6 sizes too small. And my rain pants were about 8" too short.

I just stared at her for a full 10 seconds before I started hooting with glee. She looked STUPID!!!

She asked me what I was laughing at and all I could do was point at her and laugh harder.

When I was finally able to talk, I told her she looked funny wearing my stuff.

Strangely enough, seeing how funny she looked made me feel immensely better about feeling sorry for her.

As a matter of fact, I stopped feeling sorry for her at all.

As nature usually goes, it got darker. PS went outside to get some wood for our fires. Honest to God, I felt so... Ingalls. Pa went out to gather wood while Ma stayed inside to tend the homefires.

Fuck it.

We're both keeping a small (read TINY-assed) fire going in our stoves. The shack here is so small that the two of them keep it plenty warm.

Plus with Gran's Grade A, first-rate, hideously ugly wool, we're doing just fine.

If the cold doesn't kill me, the boredom will. I'm DYING of boredom. DYING, I say. I suggested watching the grass grow as a diversion, but PS none-too-gently reminded that there IS no grass, thanks to Mr. Jack (ass) Frost.

I want to go HOOO-OOOO-OOOOOO-OOOOOOME!!!!!!!!!!!

I just screamed that (yet another scream I've let loose). I heard PS's teeth grind way over here. Then she asked me, "Would you KINDLY stop SCREAMING like that?"

Then I asked, "Why? Is it UPSETTING the delicate balance of NATURE?"

We speak in capitals a lot to each other. I've noticed that.

I think I'd rather be home watching an "I love the 80s" marathon on VH-1.

PS just asked me if I was going back to Town (wonder why I just capitalized that. Huh. Who knows?) tomorrow or if I'd keep going.

"Like, I don't KNOW, dude. I'm, like, not totally sure if I should, like go on. It's, like, a really hard decision, man, so I just don't know."

She sighed in exasperation and closed her eyes. So I started singing to her. "Should I stay or should I go now? If I go there will be trouble, if I stay it will be double."

She got up and left... right in the middle of my song. She's got some NERVE, I tell you.

Back to last night. It was a dark and stormy night when suddenly, 'Twas the night before Christmas. When what to my wondering eyes should appear, but Peter Cottontail hopping down the Funny Trail.

Whoops, that should be BUNNY trail.


Don't know, don't care.

Okay, that's not what really happened. It was much more mundane than that.

I slept with PS.

Yup, that's right. I, Maura Finnegan, slept with Postage Stamp on Sunday, the 15th day of May in the Chinese year of the goat (or cat. Or maybe pig. I'm not really sure).

OH OH OH!!!! Postage Stamp's not her real name! She told me last night, under cover of darkness, that PS stands for Phoebe Stanley.

I told her I like Postage Stamp better. I don't think she appreciates my brand of humor. It's much like a very fine wine, one that not many people appreciate or understand.

Too flipping bad for them.

ANYWAY, it was dark outside, but kind of cheery in the shack with the firelight. She suggested that we move our stuff as far back as possible in the shackeroo and keep our fires close together. Better to preserve the heat and wood, she said.

Better for her to cast furtive glances at me, I said. She wants me. I know this. I'm very sure of this. All of the looks, the eye rolling, the crankiness... all of her behavior points to frustrated longing.

Either that or constipation. Maybe I should mention Dulcolax.

We moved our stuff, though, and got cozy back here.

Heh, I'd like to get cozy with HER "back there".

I had put my notebook away and was just sorta staring into the fire. Although, after a while, I wished for a magnifying glass to see it better.

I must've drifted off because the next thing I know I'm sitting up in my bag scared shitless. It sounded like someone was rattling dried bones in a burlap sack. I knew, just KNEW that I was finally going to be killed.

I mean, I've heard, what? Dozens of bones-rattling-in-bags sounds.

At least.

Okay, maybe not. But I HAVE watched a least a dozen movies that had that sound.

After closer listening, though, it was just PS. Shivering. That's right, she was shivering so much that it woke me up.

I leaned over to her and whispered, "Hey, are you cold?"

Okay, maybe I didn't whisper it. Maybe I said it. Or maybe yelled it. At the top of my lungs.

I think she hates me.


After she removed her hands from my throat, she said that she was cold.

I laid back down and said I was terribly sorry to hear that. Then I closed my eyes.

But I was only kidding. I told her that we could share my bag if she wanted t

Well now, that's a fine how-do-you-do.

It's WEDNESDAY, 17 May, and I'm done. No more hiking for me.

Monday afternoon, PS fell out of the fucking shelter and busted her arm in three different places and her collar bone. One minute she was standing at the edge of the shack, and the next... WHAM! she disappeared.

"HOLY FUCK!" I screamed and went to look out. There was old PS, lying face down on the snow with her left arm missing. I looked around, trying to find the amputated limb.

Although, what I thought I would do with an amputated limb is beyond my grasp of reasoning. What was I going to do? Use my fish line stuff and sew it back on myself?


Turns out it was mangled underneath her in the fall but still attached.

I climbed down and asked her if she was okay.

When she didn't answer right away, I deduced that she wasn't. And when she tried to sit up and big tears leaked out of those wonderful brown eyes, I KNEW she wasn't.

I climbed back up and grabbed both of our first aid kits and climbed back down (I felt most definitely monkey-like that day). With what she had and what I had together, I managed to bind her arm iron-tight to her body without making her scream too loudly from the pain and agony. I told her not to go anywhere, and then got up and shoved all of our stuff into my pack.

I was ready to go in under 5 seconds. Or somewhere around there.

To make a really long story really short, we hiked back to the old folks' home, she called her mom, and we went to the hospital.

Met Mama PS. HOLY SHIT! If I thought PS was huge, Mama is TITANIC. But not fat. Just big. Really big.

I was in the waiting room at the hospital waiting (what else would I be doing?), when in strode this gargantuanly large woman. Taller and buffer than PS, even, and I thought PS was the biggest woman I'd ever seen.

She went to the desk, told them her name, and they took her back to PS.

I didn't know if I should stick around or not, but I did. The coffee was free, and you can't beat free coffee. So I was there when PS and her mom came out.

PS was groggy, but she managed to introduce me. Even remembered who I was. But she had to ask her mom who SHE was. It was very funny. In a freaky kinda way.

Her arm was in a cast from shoulder to fingers, and she was wearing some kind of funny splint thing around her shoulders for her collarbone.

Anyway, her mom told me I was coming home with them (which I wasn't going to argue with her about) until I could get a plane ticket home.

Home for PS turned out to be a place called Caribou here in Maine. It took us about 3 hours to get here from the hospital.

But the ride was okay because I got the goods on PS from Mommy dearest.

Oh shit, I hope she didn't see me write that. She could smite me with her thumb if she wanted to.

PS is studying for her Ph.D in... oh hell, I forget. She's a year older than me, and she has 3 brothers and 2 sisters. I think she's toward the end of the line-up somewhere.

So here I sit, in PS's apartment. I decided not to finish the Trail. At least not this time. After being with PS a couple of days, I don't think it'd be any fun by myself.

I got a ticket home for tomorrow. I don't relish the thought of seeing His Royal FatFuckness, but at least I get to crucify him about this field trip he sent me on.

Look out, Murray, here I come.

THE END!!!!!!!!!!

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