April 2, 2011
Franconia, NH
Fool Scouts Ball VI
It’s been a long time since Sarah and I had attended the yearly Fool Scouts Ball. It was 2006 when the idea of a Fool Scouts Ball was first conceived by none other then the Fool Scouts themselves. A group of merry and foolish men from the North Shore area of Massachusetts. As their own unique way to give back to the hiking community and their closest hiking friends; they decided to create a banquet of silly-ness where folks would hike to an AMC Hut, feast, drink and be.. well… foolish.
During the earlier year of these events, I had assumed the role of the official Turkey Runner. In fact, to this day I still hold the speed record for running hot out of the pot deep fried turkey’s to the hut for the feast. This year, the plan had changed and I arrive to assume my role as the Ham Runner. We met up with Randy Pierce, his wife Tracy and the mighty Quinn in the Lafayette Place parking area. We were able to reserve them a seat at the party. It was important to me to get them up there because I wanted them to meet the nicer folks in the New Hampshire peak-bagging community so that after I leave New Hampshire, the 2020 Vision Quest would have an able supply of folks to support them. 
After trudging through hefty snow drifts in the tunnel travelling under I-93/US3, I spotted a few folly folk I knew were heading to the hut. I asked Mark Howes what was left to carry and he directed us to the Hams. I threw 3 of the 11 pound mounds of meat into my bag and gave Sarah 1, and with that we began our trek “up.” Sarah took the lead and guided Tracy up the mountain at a leisurely pace while Randy and I hung back with Quinn and talked about general business, jokes, folks and fun. We all had a wonderful time making our way to the height of land. The higher up we got, the more snow there was. From maybe 2 feet at the base to around 3-4 feet up high. The trees were dusted with fresh snow from the night before and the 3 or 4 inches on the trail offered us superb traction along the way.
As we reached Lonesome Lake, we ventured out onto the frozen pond. Randy let Quinn of the lead, and let the pup run around like a dog possessed. He loved it! Then Randy and I had some fun, with a “ready, set, go!” Randy and I were racing across the pond. Of course, Randy being visually impaired, he lost his balance and crashed while narrowly missing plowing me over. We all had many good laughs as we put on a hell of a show and I’ll admit that when upright and running straight, Randy was kicking my butt.
Upon reaching the far shore, we climbed the final hill, entered the hut, took off our packs and settled in to enjoy a long day of faces new and old, jokes funny and not and the wonderful food, sounds and laughter of one foolish event known to be a “fine kind of lunacy.” For dinner we had ham and pork loin complete with mashed potatoes, corn, carrots, green beans. Homemade apple and cranberry sauces. Desserts beyond belief or a number that is sane or even safe to eat. Finally.. a few of the burlier hikers had carried up kegs and libations of all colors and flavors. A great time was mandatory and unavoidable. We’ve missed the last 2 or 3 FSB’s, it was great to enjoy one last trip to the Lonesome Hut for a day of fun. At 8:30pm, we threw our packs on, turned on the headlamps and headed down the mountain one final time. Thanks Fools!

FSB VI – Afterward
I have a long history in New Hampshire’s online-hiking community which started back in 2005 when my movie, “48”, was first released. Unfortunately, by my own undoings, I recognize that much of how folks remember me in that community is as an out-of-control, over-opinionated, punk. When I first joined these communities, I very much enjoyed the relationships and friendships created over the years. However, as time went on, I couldn’t believe the behind the scenes poison that exists within the realms of cyber-bullying in this community. As well as the true naivety and narrow-minded posts of some of the communities members. Over time, I took on the challenge of trying to get people to see things other than “Black & White.” To get people to think “out-side the box.” While trying to accomplish this personal goal of mine, which I thought was helpful, I accomplished nothing less then my own frustration and personal destruction.

I left the online hiking communities for two very different reasons. Many of my closest friends existed on Rocksontop.com. I had to leave that community because I realized that some of the negativity and frustrations I felt, and in many cases created for myself, were contributing to my struggles with deep depression. When I walked away from the website, I kept in distant contact with many of these folks through FaceBook but generally, I also walked away from an entire community and submitted myself to my own personal exile. While in this exile, it became my mission to find myself, re-direct my energies and find ways to do good.

I returned to the FSB this past weekend for a few reasons. One was mentioned above in that I wanted to introduce Randy Pierce to a community that has done so much for me in the past. A community which I knew has a big heart and would be willing to understand and support Randy and his mission long after I’m gone from those hallowed hills. I returned to reconnect with many of my old friends whom I hadn’t seen in 2, 3 and in some cases 4 years. I returned to say goodbye and I’ll see ya later to those who I remained in touch with and whom I hold close to my heart. Yeah… as I said good bye to the head fool, Russ, I fought back a rush of tears. I’m going to miss many of these folks.. as I have for so long all ready. I also needed to climb to the hut so that for one time… rather than none.. I could look two people, whom Sarah and I hold very dear to our hearts, in the eye and tell them that I’ll always be here to support them in their time of trouble. I know some of the pain they go through.. I lived it myself from their daughters perspective. I feel for them and love them.

But the other reason I wanted to go, was to show a community that I walked away from that change is possible. I wanted them to re-live the Sherpa John they knew in 2005 before the poison crept in on all fronts. I wanted to laugh and cry. I wanted to hoot and holler. I wanted them to see that.. yes… Someone can sink into the darkness and through hard work, perseverance and better choices; anyone can resurrect themselves much as I feel I have. I wanted them to hear my laugh, see me smile.. and hear my words. I wanted them to see the humble Sherpa. Forever thankful for their support and friendship. Their time and attention and forever apologetic to the many wrongs I could never make right. So to my foolish friends.. until we meet again.. happy trails. I don’t know if any of them saw what I hoped they would, but I’m content in knowing I tried.

To Jay… “L.I.G.” I know what that is my friend. That, is my nemesis. The hardest thing in the world for me to do. No one but me can know the true pain I’ve felt given the actions of some of the poisons in this community. Just know that I hold dear to my heart and still smile before bed at night at the good that you people have given and done for me. So while I can LIG to some, I can’t to all.. I’m still working, still hurting and still moving forward. Left, right, repeat.. Hope you’ll join us for OH.

Yours.. and I miss you all,
Sherpa John


4 thoughts

  1. Remember my friend, we say “See you later”, not “Goodbye”.

    Take good care of yourself out west, young man. We'll pick up the conversation when our trails should meet again.


  2. It was really good to see you again. The little system of “paying it forward” was never lost on you. It's unfortunate that there was narrow-minded folk out there who thought otherwise. Persons who choose to hassle people with depression are not pound of sand in my book. Take care good friend and I hope we can someday stumble lost on a bushwhack again sometime.

    Silentcal and Grace


  3. SJ. Good luck to you. We met via Trailwrights a few years back. I've always been on the outside of online forums like rocks and views – participating but not getting involved too deep. I can see how things can go bad.

    Best of luck to you out in CO. I'll be hiking with Randy later this year.

    Cooperhill (Chris)


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