Eagle Cap – Larry

September 26, 2018 § Leave a comment

Larry and I have been backpacking for close to 30 years now. It is kind of a fog, the dates. It somewhat depends on what year my first Mill Trip was, because although I had met Larry a few times prior to that, it wasn’t until I started coming to The Mill that our friendship began to develop. I am going to say my first Mill trip was probably January 1987, and I must have attended a couple before I heard about the Winter backpacking weekends. Like I said, that was a long time ago, and many trips later, as well as many Mill trips later Larry is one of my go-to friends. As Walt would call him, a pall bearer, though I plan on cremation, but pall bearer it is.

There have been some changes since the last time I profiled Larry Butler. When the CEO of The Reston Association stepped down this year, there was a void that could only be filled, actively, by one person. If not for a requirement that the CEO actually live IN Reston, I could probably remove “actively”, but Larry has been with the RA for so many years, he has the relationships, and he has the experience to actively fill the shoes. So while the association hunts for a new CEO, acting CEO Larry Butler keeps that organization running smoothly. Now, it is simply a detail in the charter that the CEO has to also be a resident, but it seems like such a requirement was installed for hiring people outside of the organization. When a new person comes in, you probably want them to feel like a member of the community. Larry has been with RA for so long, how can anyone argue that he isn’t already a community member? He has attended, as an RA employee, more community meetings certainly than anyone living in the community. No one can honestly question Larry’s ties to the association. Perhaps the board will realize that at some point and set that charter byline aside.

It was Larry that suggested we might be able to rope his brother-in-law into one of my adventures if brought the adventure to Oregon. There are plenty of week long opportunities there: The Three Sisters Wilderness section of the Pacific Crest Trail, Crater Lake, Mount Hood, and any week long section of the PCT. There is always the section that ends at the Bridge of the Gods over the Columbia River, that was highlighted in Cheryl Strayed’s book “Wild“. It was Scott Hellier who had suggested “There’s always the Wallowas”, which after a certain level of investigation, was selected.

Larry can always be counted upon for the little details. One such that comes to mind easily “Can I get you another beer?”; “Should we see to that bottle of scotch?”; “There’s a new brewpub in town”; “Where are the IPAs?” At The Mill, Larry is always tending to the social mores necessary to keep The Mill alive. He always calls the owner some time in late Fall to see that we haven’t been forgotten, and he always collects, each year, a small contribution from those that will contribute, and purchases a gift card so that the owner and his wife can enjoy a nice evening out. With the aid of Jim Kirby, who took a remarkable night shot of The Mill ruins, Larry presented Bruce, the owner, with a framed enlargement of Jim’s image. These are the details that preserve a relationship even if that relationship is centered around a Civil War ruin, that 3 young men found back in the 80’s and decided it would be a great place to hang out. 30 years of The Mill, and 30 years of backpacking have cemented our friendship. Add craft IPAs, and a little scotch or bourbon…

Of course, when you are on one of these adventures, momentum is the key. There is the day to day momentum to get yourself out of your warm and comfy sleeping bag to start the camp breakdown process, and there is the adventure to adventure momentum that already has you looking forward to the next adventure. Larry came to this adventure with an idea in mind. I have my own ideas as well, but Larry’s idea got a boost when two other campers on Moccasin Lake came over to chat us up during the snow squalls on Thursday. The Weminuche Wilderness located in Colorado’s San Juan Mountains. Now, Larry’s take on this was he had read somewhere that the most remote lake in the lower 48 is located in the Weminuche, and while that might be true, he doesn’t know the name of the lake. Looking at the map, I can’t really tell, but the cool thing about this wilderness we learned from Dan and Donna informed us that you can take a whistle stop train from Durango to the trail head. The train runs between Silverton and Durango 4 times a day and stops, if hailed at any of the trail heads. How cool is that? Another selling point, is the Continental Divide Trail runs right through the Weminuche, and there are a number of fourteeners within the wilderness boundaries as well.

Four NY to DC driving hours on a good day separate the two of us, so we don’t see each other often, but whenever we are drinking a good IPA, checking out a new brew pub, on a decent day hike, or involved in something that is worth sharing with the other, we always start a text chat that is good for some giggles.

We are getting older, and the two year gap between these adventures, when you project forward, doesn’t leave all that many in our future, so we may have to start some kind of off year activity that isn’t quite so extensive. Something on the East Coast that we can simply drive to, but still spend more than a 3 day weekend in the woods. I still have a week-long section of the Long Trail to finish, so maybe we do that. Whatever we do, I will do it with Larry.

In my cycling gang, we always say its the riders who make the ride. Well the same holds true in hiking adventures, its the hikers who make the hike, and Larry is one of those hikers who make each adventure a fun adventure.

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