NFM Trail Maintenance

“Your assignment is to make sure K-Rob-D doesn’t dynamite the mountain.”

Ummm, ok…I mean. I don’t know if you know my history with this particular mountain… But I promise to…not help her dynamite North Fucking Mountain.

I wasn’t really even supposed to be helping to clean North Fucking Mountain.

I hate that mountain.

I don’t really give a damn if it’s clean.

I don’t care if I never step foot on that fucking mountain again in my life.

But Master Mountain Junkie was putting together teams. To address different portions. So that no single human had to be exposed to the entire bullshit mountain.

And Skratch and Goatfinder asked me to be on their team. And I love them. And I love to be picked for teams. Because maybe I wasn’t ever picked in school.

So. Fine. I’ll go. But I won’t like it.

And I won’t help K-Rob dynamite it. But I won’t work real hard at stopping her, either.

Goatfinder brought Doritos. Because she knows how to get me to show up to places.

Food. It’s always food.

So I took the bag of Doritos. And strapped them into my pack. For later. When I needed some taste of hope on that damn mountain.

And I don’t know why. But North Mountain Overlord was in some kind of a mood today. And actually went for my chips. Like, touched the bag of Doritos. My bag of Doritos.

So, clearly I had to set some boundaries. Aggressive boundaries.

Which was maybe not the best first impression I could’ve made on the dude who’d also shown up for trail day. That I hadn’t met before.

Who promptly asked, “Was it one of you that had the run in with the bear hunters…?”

Yes. Fine. Sometimes I get a little…irrational.

Look. We’ll be fine. Just don’t mess with my food or my animals. Those bears on North Fucking Mountain? Mine. These Doritos strapped to my back? Also mine.

Anyway. I showed up. And didn’t have to beat North Mountain Overlord down in the parking lot.

Time to gear up.

Skratch strapped about 80 lbs. of equipment onto his back. Goatfinder strapped a Mandalorian jet pack onto hers. K-Rob grabbed the giant-sized scissors.

And Skratch handed me the large switchblade saw.

Cool.

Walked across the road and stepped onto the trail.

At which point, Skratch immediately injured himself. Pulling a dead, but fully grown oak tree off the trail and on down the mountain.

Now. If that had been me. I’d have limped my happy ass on back to the car. And driven on over to a nice breakfast spot. And felt totally ok about it. Because at least I showed up.

But it wasn’t me. It was Skratch. So, obviously he just continued on his way.

We headed up the gateway to hell that is Catawba Valley Trail. And tried to figure out why we were even bothering with the gateway to hell that is Catawba Valley Trail. Because it was pristine. And did not require my really cool large switchblade saw. Or anyone else’s tools.

Seems like someone could’ve just driven us to the top and dropped us off. Maybe choppered us in.

Why were we climbing all the way up this mountain?

And why was that child running it the whole way? Why is he doing that? How? Someone trip him.

I didn’t mean that.

I get a little cranky on North Fucking Mountain.

He was adorable.

Humbling. But adorable.

As he was running ahead of me. Occasionally stopping to look back at his father. Who was stuck behind me. Moving at a snail’s pace.

And what happens when you’re lumbering your expansive ass up the side of a mountain on a 60 degree day is that you sweat.

A lot.

But then you get to the top.

I mean the ridgeline.

North Fucking Mountain doesn’t have a top.

And see. North Fucking Mountain has its own atmospheric rules.

It’s really just always winter on the ridgeline.

And we were waiting for Skratch and Goatfinder. Because they were carrying all of the heavy equipment. On an injured ankle.

So, I got cold.

And since I was already miserable. Because North Fucking Mountain. And because former co-worker Dennis had just challenged me to a New Year’s Day push up contest. And he claims to be knocking out 75 a day right now. So maybe I have some work to do. To be competitive. I just dropped. And starting pushing up.

I managed 10. Right there. So…I’m feeling pretty confident about this challenge.

Eventually, K-Rob got antsy. After AD and I tried to use the saw. To take down a tree. That wasn’t really anywhere near the trail.

I’m just playin.

No living trees were harmed in the making of our videos.

We just wanted to screw with Master Mountain Junkie.

So, off we went.

Along the ridgeline.

Of North Fucking Mountain.

And this place.

I haven’t been here in…I don’t know. A year?

And I remember why.

It’s just so…

You know in Harry Potter. How the Deatheaters suck every last ounce of happiness out of your soul. And it takes a powerful Patronus to chase them off. And bring your happiness back. And so you’re just lying there. Just slowly giving up on life. Waiting for Harry’s dad to come save you. Only it’s not his dad. It’s actually Harry. Except there’s also that subtle suggestion in the last movie that maybe Snape’s Patronus is the same as Harry’s. And that’s where they always lose me.

I should probably re-read the books.

(Oh! Also. Spoiler Alert. Forgot to say that…)

Anyway. North Fucking Mountain is a Deatheater.

Because look it.

That is just pure sadness and despair.

Just…desolation.

There is no happiness there.

And food is our Patronus.

So we started fantasizing. About tacos. And nachos. And cheeseburgers. And BEER…

And K-Rob worked real hard snipping her giant scissors in the general area of any briars that were invading the trail. Like, not exactly on the briars. But she was at least briar adjacent. Most of the time. As she was snipping.

I’d say she was batting somewhere around .200

(That’s it. That’s my only attempt at a baseball reference. ever. In my life.)

(I had to Google “poor batting average” to do that.)

(Sports that require a basic understanding of statistics are unreasonable.)

But at least she was getting to use her tool.

We’d gone four miles and I still hadn’t had an opportunity to whip out my large switchblade saw. Westside Story style.

Had to duck around a grapevine. Which K-Rob briefly considered snipping. But she didn’t have the right tool for that.

I may have.

But I felt like I could probably just pull it down.

With my bare hands.

Cause I had done those pushups a few miles back…

But once I jumped on. It just started swinging. And maybe I was gripping a little tighter than was entirely necessary. With my legs. Because I had visions of just being thrown right on over the edge of the mountain.

And no one should have to die on North Fucking Mountain.

People shouldn’t even visit there.

But the gripping.

It may have…it caused some pain…in…places.

My body is insisting on only gentle touches now. At least for a while. Until it recovers. From the trauma.

Continued whining our way along. Up. The fucking relentless up. That is North Fucking Mountain ridgeline.

And finally.

A large limb down. Across the trail.

Time to whip out my large switchblade saw.

And I pushed the button.

To release the blade.

And kinda whipped it with my wrist.

The way they do in the movies.

Expecting the blade to suddenly appear.

SHWING!

(That’s my switchblade sound. Metal on metal. Or some badass sound like that.)

But nothing happened.

It just sat there. Waiting for me to gently pull the blade out of its shell.

Well that’s way less badass than I’d been envisioning.

But it’s fine.

Because I finally got to do some work. That we could document. So I didn’t get accused of not doing any work. And be required to go back. For a do over.

Sawed that limb. Until K-Rob picked it up and carried if off the trail…

But my sawing definitely helped loosen it up.

And thankfully, we didn’t have to make it all the way over to Turkey Trail. Before running into the Turkey Trail group.

So we were able to turn around. And head back down.

To our cars.

And food.

And BEER.

So, it’s clean now.

I don’t know why you’d care. Why anyone would care.

You really shouldn’t ever actually go there.

I’m actually working on lobbying to have the Catawba Runaround diverted around North Fucking Mountain.

But for whatever useless reason. It’s clean.

And hopefully Master Mountain Junkie is happy.

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