A long anticipated meeting on the Black Forest Trail
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Ike Jutkowitz
(Ike) - M

Locale: Central Michigan
A long anticipated meeting on the Black Forest Trail on 03/30/2013 11:24:30 MDT Print View

The internet is a great and terrible tool for communication. It brings together people with diverse backgrounds, geographic ranges, and interests who all share a love for backcountry travel. Unfortunately, forum members come to the table with their own set of assumptions, and absent the subtleties of facial expression and other social cues, sometimes seem helpless to understand each other’s intentions. Every now and again though, someone stands out from the crowd. A person whose words and deeds consistently reveal their character, generous nature, enthusiasm for life. Over the years, I’ve subconsciously kept a list of these "folks I’d like to hike with". Recently, I had the opportunity to finally meet one such individual for a couple days of hiking on the Black Forest Trail in Pennsylvania.

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This was a grueling 2 day hike involving significant elevation gain and loss, icy stream crossings, and a snow crust that robbed momentum. What I will remember most about this trip though is not the scenery, but meeting someone I respected and would enjoy hiking with again; someone stubborn, perseverant, and with a vocabulary like a sailor...

Now to start saving up for tickets to New Mexico, Colorado, Montana, California....

Edit- You asked for it, so here you go. I have posted the real story down below. I think you'll soon understand why I gave the abbreviated version the first time around...

Edited by Ike on 04/13/2013 03:59:31 MDT.

Steven Paris
(saparisor) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
A long anticipated meeting on the Black Forest Trail on 03/30/2013 13:51:34 MDT Print View

"Vocabulary like a sailor." If I hadn't already met him, that'd be a giveaway.

Please add some more details of the trip when you get a chance, Ike. Your trip reports are always looked forward to.

Edited by saparisor on 03/30/2013 14:02:44 MDT.

Bill S
(pnchike) - M
Re: on 04/09/2013 19:16:58 MDT Print View

Nice pics, you do a credible job making Pennsylvania look like somewhere out West (not that there's a hierarchy!). And big kudos for making the effort to seek out great hiking partners. So often I think what happens is that we take up most of our time, energy and attention building up our own equipment list and repertoire of desirable hiking destinations. Its a mostly inward-focused task, and then it's very easy to say that we can't realistically find anyone else as into the sport as us--and so there's no real effort made to find a hiking partner. But I think more hikers would like a partner if we could find one than would often admit it. It's a great thing to build friendships--and shared activity is one of the best ways to build friendships--if you are willing to take the time. But it's hard, and it has its own kind of risks. It's one thing to go solo if you like it, but many hikers are more or less resigned to that fact whether we would like a partner/group or not...

Eugene Smith
(Eugeneius) - MLife

Locale: Nuevo Mexico
Re: A long anticipated meeting on the Black Forest Trail on 04/10/2013 07:45:56 MDT Print View

Ike and Ide. Sid and Nancy. Sonny and Cher. Milli Vanilli.

They say great things come in pairs.


I'd love to read more on this one Ike.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: MidAtlantic
Re: Re: A long anticipated meeting on the Black Forest Trail on 04/10/2013 08:40:09 MDT Print View

"Ike and Ide. Sid and Nancy. Sonny and Cher. Milli Vanilli. "

WE DID NOT LIP SYNC AT ANY TIME ON THIS TRIP!

We had a great time, though I held Ike back quite a bit with a calf injury. The stream crossing was fun - I kept Roger Caffin's post in my head - loosely translated "It ain't that bad you whinging fool" and found he was right. Pretty damn cold during the crossing but after a quick toweling off on the other side and dry socks back on we started a long (looooooonnngggg) climb which warmed out feet back up pretty quickly.

d k
(dkramalc) - MLife
Re: Re: Re: A long anticipated meeting on the Black Forest Trail on 04/10/2013 09:01:01 MDT Print View

>though I held Ike back quite a bit with a calf injury<

Now, now, Doug - that wasn't really very sporting of you, it's not nice to hurt Ike's calf if he's hiking faster than you ;)

oops, the quote didn't come through the first time...

Edited by dkramalc on 04/10/2013 09:02:09 MDT.

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Re: Re: A long anticipated meeting on the Black Forest Trail on 04/10/2013 09:41:00 MDT Print View

Why does Ike always look happy in pictures and Doug always mad? And which approach is better for wading through rivers?

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: MidAtlantic
Re: Re: Re: A long anticipated meeting on the Black Forest Trail on 04/10/2013 09:44:56 MDT Print View

"Why does Ike always look happy in pictures and Doug always mad?"

Mad? Can't you tell 'pensive' when you see it! I'm a thinker, thinking big thoughts! That one photo of me overlooking the valley below, I was thinking about how much the curves of the valley reminded me of Jennifer Aniston. Big thoughts, man!

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: MidAtlantic
Re: Re: Re: A long anticipated meeting on the Black Forest Trail on 04/10/2013 09:47:00 MDT Print View

"And which approach is better for wading through rivers?"

The crazy thing about that (or Ike, depending on your view) is that he waded out so I could get the pic, then came back to get the camera, then let me cross, then crossed all the way himself. He must have been freezing! Could be the smile was simply frozen to his face, that might account for it.

Kevin Babione
(KBabione) - MLife

Locale: Pennsylvania
The Black Forest Trail on 04/10/2013 11:29:23 MDT Print View

Thanks for the photos - I'm heading there tomorrow with another BPL'er. Look for a trip report sometime next week.

Pete Garcia
(pgjgarcia) - MLife

Locale: SE PA
Black Forest Trail on 04/10/2013 16:01:39 MDT Print View

I've been wanting to do this trail for a while now! For how far it is from Philly, though, I have to wait until summer I suppose. Great photos, thanks for the report!

Ike Jutkowitz
(Ike) - M

Locale: Central Michigan
The real story on 04/10/2013 18:41:40 MDT Print View

Guys, I apologize for the uncharacteristically brief report. I am prepared now to offer the real story, and I think you will soon see why I hesitated to come out with it in the first place. In this tale, all of the above questions will be answered. God help us all- this is how it really happened...


The internet is a great and terrible tool for communication. It brings together people with diverse backgrounds, geographic ranges, and interests who all share a love for backcountry travel. Unfortunately, forum members come to the table with their own set of assumptions, and absent the subtleties of facial expression and other social cues, often seem helpless to understand each other’s intentions. Arguments ensue, and, without fear of personal consequence, people address each other in ways that would not appropriate were they sitting face to face.

Every now and again though, someone stands out from the crowd. A person whose words and deeds consistently reveal their character, generous nature, enthusiasm for life. Over the years, I’ve subconsciously kept a mental catalog of these folks I’d like to hike with. Recently, I had the opportunity to finally meet one such individual for a couple days of hiking on the Black Forest Trail in Pennsylvania.

84

This trip was a cluster**** from the start. We had been talking about it for probably a year and a half, and after many failed attempts to make it happen, I finally had an opening in my schedule during a cold week in March. I had just gotten back from Ontario a couple weeks earlier, so I knew my wife would not be keen for me to leave again. I felt compelled to make it happen though, so I made various trades I won’t elaborate on here to ensure her cooperation.

k
Two days before the trip, disaster struck. My daughter had gotten strep throat and couldn’t go to school. Since my wife was working, I’d need to stay home with her. A hasty conversation with Doug from the doctor’s office and we pushed the trip back a day.

A day before the trip, Keira was back at school. I was starting to get a stuffy sensation in my nose, but was too stubborn to postpone or cancel yet again. Unbeknownst to me, Doug had strained his calf, but was also too stubborn to postpone or cancel. So it was that I left my house at 9 pm that evening, driving through the night to meet Doug by the trail the next morning. I had slept for a couple hours in the back of my car and was looking pretty ragged.

We hit it off right away and were soon unashamedly delving into each other’s business without regard for personal boundaries. Doug learned why I go backpacking so often, and I learned why he comforts himself with cuben fiber every night. I also found out that Doug is not a big fan of pictures (hence the lack of smiles).

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I tried to respect this, taking out my camera only when his back was turned.

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I also learned that saying, “This one can be for your match.com page” would likely get me a full frontal shot, though not necessarily a smile.

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The trail was remarkable in its constant changes in elevation. I thought Pennsylvania would be a pushover, but this was turning into a workout. Breaking through a hard snow crust with every step was also exacting its toll. Meanwhile, Doug’s strained calf was taking a beating but he was too stubborn to show it, so we maintained a decent pace, up and down, up and down until we could go no further.

79
Finally, we stopped for the night by a little pond. At this point, my cold came on in full glory. I wasn’t able to breathe through my nose from then on, a real conversation stopper by the way. This is when things got really weird. As we set up our tarps for the night, I could hear a buzzing sound coming from inside Doug’s trailstar. It sounded like a battery-powered vibrator. Seriously? Here? What was that sound?

Then came the final blow. Two missed calls from Doug’s dogsitter. Without any cell phone reception, there was no way to call back, and I think we both worried she was a goner. There was no easy way to extract ourselves that night and Doug’s hypothetically dead dog pretty much put a damper on any socializing we might have done. My dinner tasted like ash, and I don’t think Doug ate at all. We both retired sadly to our shelters. 20 minutes later, Doug called out. I was still awake at the time. All the while I had been trying to squirm out of my stupid Patagonia guide pants. With no fly or stretchy waistband, it was virtually impossible to extract myself from them without serious contortion. I don’t even want to tell you how hard it is to take a leak in those things. Anyway, he had just gotten his messages and everything was ok- she had eaten a trivial amount of chocolate and had been made to vomit it back up.

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Breakfast the next morning was a cheerier affair. We dawdled in camp for a while discussing the best way to bury turds in a frozen landscape, and whether they would still be there come spring. (As a dog owner, I can positively tell you that they will).

The big excitement of the morning came 40 minutes into our hike with a frosty river crossing. Now that we were having fun again, I was pretty excited about this. I had been planning to go full monty, but the river wasn’t actually all that deep, so we contented ourselves with just taking off our socks. It was about 20 F and pretty painful by the time we reached the other side.

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I look happy here because I'm not actually crossing, and also because I got to keep my pants on. The second time through, I may have been a little less pleased with myself.

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Wait till Doug's back is turned, then snap, snap..

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It was at this time that Doug conveniently remembered we might have a few more wet river crossings yet that day. Having already taken off my socks once, I was pretty vocally committed to getting across all other rivers fully clothed. This led to some interesting hopscotch on ice-slicked stepping stones later on that could have resulted in disaster, but didn’t.

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The day passed pleasantly with plenty more ups and downs, and lots of salami and cheese (since we hadn't really eaten the day before). Finally, at day’s end, we hit the road and walked to a nice inn with great burgers and fries with gravy. Some nice folks offered to shuttle us back to the car after dinner, but then left soon after without saying a word. I think they finally smelled us.

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I’ve had some failed trips in the past, but this one really took the cake. And yet, in the process, I found a kindred spirit. Someone I’d hike with any time. It’s not how you handle the fun stuff, but what you do when the chips are down that makes the person. Can’t wait to hike with Doug again!

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: MidAtlantic
Re: The real story on 04/10/2013 18:58:54 MDT Print View

Nice write up Ike. I like this part: I also learned that saying, “This one can be for your match.com page” would likely get me a full frontal shot, though not necessarily a smile.

True story: I had a date via Match after I got back from this trip. As we sat down to lunch, the woman said (I am not making this up): "You're much better looking in person. I have to tell you, your pictures aren't doing you any favors. Sorry to be blunt."

Cracked me up. Maybe I should try that smiling thing.....

Jim Colten
(jcolten) - M

Locale: MN
Re: The real story on 04/10/2013 19:19:12 MDT Print View

I have to tell you, your pictures aren't doing you any favors.

Sounds like you are going overboard with that "managing expectations" thing:-)

Ken Thompson
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: Behind the Redwood Curtain
Re: The real story on 04/10/2013 19:23:25 MDT Print View

I didn't know it was bromance week at BPL.

Good story guys.

David W.
(Davidpcvsamoa) - MLife

Locale: East Bay, CA
Re: The real story on 04/10/2013 21:49:25 MDT Print View

I can't believe Doug is not using the picture Kat took after his swim in the Trinity Alps for his Match profile. It takes a lady behind the camera to get Doug to smile.

Doug, you need to come back to California for a trip so we can compare who can pitch a more limp Trailstar.

Great trip guys and excellent write up Ike.

Ken Thompson
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: Behind the Redwood Curtain
Re: The real story on 04/10/2013 21:52:04 MDT Print View

I took that shot David.

No need for people to get the wrong idea about Kat.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: The real story on 04/10/2013 22:01:56 MDT Print View

I had dinner with Doug last week. Thinking he was a man's man, I was expecting him to pull up in a tricked-out Hummer; instead it was a freaking Prius. This explains the dating problem. Other than that it was a great evening. Doug is a-okay.

David W.
(Davidpcvsamoa) - MLife

Locale: East Bay, CA
Re: The real story on 04/10/2013 22:02:17 MDT Print View

Let me set the record straight. I felt it was well composed and tasteful and I compliment you Ken if it was you who took the photo. It captured the soft side of Doug.

Edited by Davidpcvsamoa on 04/10/2013 22:03:53 MDT.

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Re: The real story on 04/10/2013 22:14:22 MDT Print View

"I tried to respect this, taking out my camera only when his back was turned. "

"Wait till Doug's back is turned, then snap, snap.."

ROTFLMAO