Chewbacca Legs on the Appalachian Trail, Andy’s Take on my Gear List

While discussing the essential gear I need to take on the trail, and keeping in mind that I have to carry all of it, I told my son I wasn’t going to take a razor. Why would I shave my legs at all? I’m going to be free in the great outdoors, and there is no audience I could offend with lycanthropic legs. He responded.

My son, Andy, AKA Willis, has a very warped sense of humor, which might be indicative of his upbringing. Anyway, in his humble opinion I should definitely take a razor. Why? Reasons are varied; he tries to look at all angles. First, he is afraid that I will summit some mountain and fellow hikers will mistake me for Chewbacca. If they are Star War’s fans, I might get kidnapped and taken to some convention in Las Vegas. Cryptozoolists might mistake me for a female bigfoot, and the Smithsonian would no doubt want me on ice. Star War’s enthusiasts might also think I’m an Ewok, since I’m short. Another convention kidnap. He isn’t afraid other humans will think I’m a Hobbit, because they aren’t real and they don’t wear hiking boots from REI.

He isn’t the least bit afraid for me, for ANY other reason. After all, I did live in Baghdad during the war. He is not afraid I will get lost, or tumble off the summit of Katahdin. He knows I have the gear to purify water. He helped me choose a bug net so he isn’t afraid of West Nile Virus. He is afraid; however, that I will look like Chewy.

Andy is my eldest son. He is currently in college and lives with me. You could say one of his favorite hobbies is tormenting me. He notices when I put my keys in the refrigerator. He laughs when I get lost in the town I was reared in. He remembers where I put absolutely everything because he knows he will have to find it. He also has a remedy for when I truly get on his nerves.

There is a newspaper ad, believe it or not it is true, for a free haircut when you place a family member in a particular nursing home. I’ve seen the ad; it is real. Anyway, when Andy gets a little frustrated with me, he has a habit of asking me, “Mother, do you want me to go get that free haircut?”

He will be glad to be rid of me for a while, but how do I know he isn’t worried?

Every piece of gear I have, he has tested. Even when my water purification system came in, he immediately poured tons of dirt in a water pitcher, filled it to the brim, and started pumping water in my brand-new Nalgene bottle. Then, he inspected it and tasted it himself. He knows it works.

I couldn’t afford a GPS, so he ordered all the maps of the AT, from Katahdin to Springer. He made sure he not only had my itinerary, but a PDF of my guidebook. He chose my cell phone. He bought my solar charger and made me demonstrate that I can use it.

He made sure I know how to tie the right knots.

He cinched up all the parts on my backpack to make sure it fit correctly. He checked zippers. He took my paracord for my bear bag and threw it, hanging my food in the tree in our front yard.

He ordered me “not to graze on the trail,” and to drink enough water.

He showed me how to use my trekking poles as a weapon.

Andy and I have switched roles. He is more like the parent and I am more like the child; however, I know I called him names, but I don’t think I ever called him Chewy.


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