On the Road Again: Known well around Hanover for his work at Stinson’s, ever-presence at the 5 Olde bar, and myriad eccentricities, “Baltimore Jack” Tarlin set off yesterday for another hike of the Appalachian Trail, his seventh in recent years.

For those who don’t know, Jack graduated from Hampshire College, received his masters (in history, I think) from Johns Hopkins (thus “Baltimore”), and is at work on a book about the Trail.

“The ratio of men to women on the Trail’s about seven to one,” Jack told me the other night at 5 Olde, explaining the sexual dynamics of the Trail. I’m not sure how we got onto the topic, but, according to Jack, most people think the Trail’s “like Woodstock, but you go to bed somewhere different every night.” But, given the ratio, given the type of people who hike, and given the conditions, opportunities for romance (aside for couples who’ve set out together) are the exception.

And, of course, Jack’s been that exception on at least one occassion. During his last hike, he met a recent college graduate from the UK. She was unsure of her next step in life, and he was on his annual trek. Soon they were hiking together.

One morning, the two of them came upon a group of middle school students. Jack’s companion underwent what through-hikers call “Twenty Questions” from two polite and curious schoolgirls: what do you eat, how heavy is your pack, how far have you gone, etc. Finally, one asked, “How can you spend so much time with your father?,” and gestured at Jack. Her girlfriend ribbed her: “That’s not her father; he’s her boyfriend.”

Jack, some feet away, heard the first girl’s response clearly: “Ewwwww, gross!”

(Photo: Baltimore Jack at a Dartmouth fraternity with knife in hand)