The next morning at nine sharp, I was at the post office waiting for it to open. Standing in line with me were seven other hikers. After receiving our resupply boxes, Shark Bite, Faucet, OTC, and I took our packages back to the Courthouse Motel to sort through the contents and transfer them to our backpacks. Shark Bite and Faucet allowed me to take a shower in their motel room, while they were out running errands. I knew the museum opened at 10:00 a.m., and I wanted to be there as soon as possible to visit with the director about the Model T Ford truck.
Eleven o’clock was the best I could do, and I found the museum director at the front counter after entering the building. The director’s name was John Klusmire, mid-forties, medium build. I dropped my pack and trekking poles beside the front door, so as not to be encumbered while visiting with Mr. Klusmire. I introduced myself and stated my business. I hoped he would see things my way, that the rusting pile of metal out in the backyard of the museum was worth saving. I offered to make a donation of $500 to the museum, if the museum would be willing to part with the truck.
He said the truck had been donated to the museum a few years back; it had been sitting in a town resident’s backyard and the owner wanted to get rid of it, and had offered it to the museum – so the museum obtained it for free. After a pause, he stated further that the decision to give or sell museum property wasn’t his alone to make; he would have to consult with the museum staff and/or committee about such matters. I told him I understood and that after I finished the hike in late September, I would be in contact with him. John gave me his card, and I made ready to leave.
I walked back to the Onion Creek Road that ran along the back side of the museum property, and stood opposite the Model T Ford truck with my thumb out, a signal that I needed a lift. While waiting for a ride, I continued to eyeball the Model T and envisioned in my mind some of the repair work that would have to be done to bring the derelict back to life.
The cracked and splintered wooden spokes caught my attention first, but I knew that Amish carriage makers in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, made new replacement spokes, so restoring the wheels would be possible. The engine was a solid piece of rust, but, a soak in a caustic, acid bath would remove the rust and old paint and might even loosen up the nuts holding the engine head to the block.
No matter how worn out an engine was, if the block wasn’t cracked, the cylinders could be re-sleeved to bring them back to factory tolerance; new pistons, piston rods, bearings, valves and valve seats, and valve lifters could all be purchased from parts catalogues that specialize in antiques, so the engine too could be restored. Bringing this beauty back to life would be a true labor of love, but the end result would be worth it, just like seeing the day when Homeless will be restored to his former self.
After waiting a half hour, a car with the driver as the only occupant, stopped and offered me a ride to the Onion Creek trailhead. The driver’s name was Jerry, and in the course of our conversation, he said he was still in the military as an army ranger. He was on vacation with his wife who was waiting for him at the campground. He said he envied me being able to hike the PCT and hoped to do likewise someday. He also hoped that his wife would be able to accompany him, but inasmuch as she was afraid of getting too close to the edge of the trail with straight drop-offs, he wasn’t sure she would be able to accompany him.
At the trailhead, I thanked Jerry for the ride, shouldered my pack, and started up the trail. The weather forecast called for rain today, and with the dark clouds appearing over the spires of Kearsarge Pass, it looked like a sure thing. I hiked for an hour, all uphill, of course, and the rain started. Now the clouds were really dark, the wind was intensifying, and the rain was falling at a steady rate.
I had no rain jacket, having sent it home to lighten my pack load, because it was summer and it doesn’t rain in the summer. Knowing I couldn’t make it to the lakes and decent campgrounds, I looked for anything along the trail that even remotely resembled a tent site, and finally settled on one that was sloped and covered with tree roots. With great haste, I erected my tent, crawled in and called it a day at four in the afternoon.
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