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088 Saving a Butt 2009-05-27

LeConte Trail

Often times I hear the cliche "he saved my butt", but it is said in a figurative manner. For example, a friend catches a possibly costly error for you and you claim that she saved you. A few weeks ago I actually witnessed a butt saving act.

On our trip to Mount LeConte, Jon and I started from Sugarland Visitor Center while Laura and Monica started at the regular Bull Head trailhead. The alternative start added 3.5 miles to our hike. We would have to walk fast and the other group would have to walk slow in order for our groups to join. At the Bull Head junction we saw a small cairn telling us they had passed before us. Speedily we continued our walk. Hikers we met told us Laura and Monica were not far ahead of us (even though we did not inquire). We pushed onward. The trail was evenly graded and easy to walk at a good pace. Jon began falling behind my pace, but he did not mention having a problem. I thought we were just walking at different paces. The gap between Jon and I was growing and I became afraid that the other group might be walking faster than Jon. So, I decided to bring the two groups together. I picked up my pace and caught the other group as they were truly walking slowly to allow us to catch them.

I suggested to the women that we take a break and allow Jon to catch us. It wasn’t long before he joined the group. Still there was no mention of any reason why he was walking slowly. I just assumed he was not feeling well. With the group together we made our way toward the summit. It wasn’t long before we had to stop again. This time we were on an exposed ridge with views of Gatlinburg. I didn’t want to see the city below, but I had forgotten to call my wife on the drive to the Park and thought I’d see if I could get a signal.

While I busied myself making the call Jon asked, "does anyone have any Sportslick?" Sportslick is a anti-friction ointment which prevents skin chafing.

Monica said she had some and produced a small plastic bag of the salve. Jon took the baggy and turned toward me (his back to the women) to apply the ointment. A big sigh of relief came from Jon as he applied the Sportslick. His smile told me the reason he was walking so slow. The witty women teased him unmercifully, but he didn’t care.

With the operation complete, Jon turned to Monica and said, "thanks, you really saved my butt!" Laughter from the mountain was heard in Gatlinburg fifteen miles away.

Jon tried to give the remaining ointment back to Monica, but she just told him to keep it. Hmm. I wonder why?

Happy trails.


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