Tag Archives: University of Georgia

Legalized Pot!

Well, now that I have the attention of all you recreational drug users, this post is actually about a cooking pot. It has an amusing history you might enjoy.

Here goes: When I thru-hiked SOBO on the AT in 1973, I had limited funds. I sold appliances and worked layaway at a Zayre’s store in Athens as I wrapped up my senior year at UGA and banked as much money as possible to fund my trip, assembling equipment on the cheap. Examples include a cheap nylon Zayre’s windbreaker, an onion sack to carry my food, a cheapie swiss army knockoff pocket knife, and a threadbare sweatshirt.

Where I wisely put my money was into a really good Trailwise pack (recommended by the legendary Colin Fletcher and now displayed on the lobby wall of the Len Foote Hike Inn), a Swedish-made SVEA 123 stove that ran on unleaded gas, a pretty good spring-weight down sleeping bag and a slightly-better-than-mediocre pair of Raichles.

Easily, the most intriguing piece of gear was from my Dad’s old Boy Scout mess kit purchased in 1928. Its 32-oz. capacity was pretty limiting at the end of the day when I was always — guaranteed without fail — famished. A typical meal was a store-brand box of mac & cheese with something mixed in — often a 3-oz. can of tuna. I also occasionally mixed instant pudding for desert. Another culinary favorite was instant rice which probably had less nutrition than the cardboard container it came in.

But the old pot perched on top of my SVEA 123 which emitted a delightfully sibilant hiss to keep me company on lonely nights — Ah that pot was wonderful! It will turn 90 next year, and I have to believe it is one of the oldest items ever carried on an AT thru-hike.

My dad, by the way, was an Eagle Scout. As am I. As is my 2000 AT SOBO thru-hiker son Optimus Prime. And, to boot, my 2004 AT SOBO thru-hiker daughter Steady is a Gold Award Girl Scout. Scouting has provided all three generations of us with a love for wilderness and a passion for adventure.

That humble little piece of cookware characterizes the whole experience. It’s a form of legal pot.

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I was very, very smart!

Back in 1973 when I skipped graduation at the University of Georgia to head to Mount Katahdin for a SOBO thru-hike of the A.T., I had great confidence. I had just received a college diploma, so clearly, I was very, very smart. I was so smart that I did very little research and planning and found myself in Maine in early June after a winter of massive snowfall and a spring of torrential rains. The trail was a quagmire, and the air was filled with black flies and swarms of mosquitos so large that I occasionally saw them fly by holding small mammals in their clutches. The photo below depicts my very, ┬ávery smart self walking across logs on the edge of a north woods lake that was overflowing its banks. The trail was under 18 inches of water. That’s how smart I was. I will give myself credit, however. I kept going and things got better. By October 20, I was proudly striding up Springer Mountain. It can be done, I tell you. So, stay vertical and keep walkin’. (Photo by Bob Bruggman, all rights reserved).

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