RIP City Slicka “Patrick O’Meara” (1973 – 2019): The Man Who Never Returned

Patrick

“Pictured next to the A.T. archway at Amicalola Falls is “City Slicka” aka Patrick O’Meara from South Boston, MA who completed the A.T. southbound in February. It look him one year to complete due to some injuries that took him off of the trail for over 4 months” – Kathy Brigman March 5, 2013 (source: Facebook)

City Slicka (Patrick M. O’Meara), the thru-hiker from Southie (South Boston) with legendary calves and more than 21,000 Career miles on the Appalachian Trail (AT), is dead. City Slicka swore like a sailor, drank a lot of beer, smoked a lot of weed, embodied a lot of both the good- and bad- qualities associated with ‘Hiker Trash’ on the AT, and was part of my trail family (a trouble-making older brother of sorts). He was hiking the AT full time by 2012, and by the end of 2013 (the same year I finished my AT thru) he’d completed at least one ‘yo-yo’ (round-trip) of the AT. By the end of 2014, he’d completed another yo-yo of the AT, and his calves had become a thing of legend. For those of you that are having trouble imagining legendary calves, think about ‘Popeye the Sailor’, with massive, tattooed legs instead of giant arms, a backpack instead of a sailor’s cap, a can of bee-ah [beer] instead of spinach, and a wicked strong Southie Accent.

Year by year, as City Slicka continued ‘ponging’ the Appalachian Trail (ping-ponging back and forth up and down the trail from Georgia and Maine), the legends of his exploits and the size of his calves grew and grew, and we stopped counting the number of thru-hikes (and miles) he’d hiked. Instead of signing into log books with which years he’d completed his thru-hikes like the rest of us (FYI, I sign in as Patches AT ’13, PCT ’14, CDT ’18), he signed in as ‘City Slicka AT∞’, and that seemed right. He was City Slicka and he’d hike the AT an infinite number of times. City Slicka was a bit like the AT itself, in that we all sort of just figured that he would always be out there, somewhere in the Appalachian Mountains. In July of 2019, City Slicka physically left the AT, but his spirit and his legend will be a part of the AT forever.

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AT logbook with City Slicka’s AT infinity sign-in and shout out to Riff-Raff! from July 16, 2018 (source: Rich Outdoors)

Our trail family first learned the news that City Slicka was dead in November, and before any of us knew much more than that, we found ourselves at an “Irish Wake” for City Slicka down at 4 Pines (the hiker hostel that City Slicka had tattooed on his famous calves) in Virginia. For three days the whiskey, moonshine, and beer flowed freely as we gathered, and grieved at 4 Pines. We were in the Appalachian Mountains, so it was cold and rainy the whole time, but thanks to Pound Puppy (who has mad skillz with fire), we had a raging campfire to linger around. We poured one out for City (by the end of the 3 days, it was probably closer to 750), we told stories, we laughed, we cried, we broke things, and we burned things in true Hika’ Trash style. City Slicka woulda been proud :)

As we grieved, the question, “Who was City Slicka?” kept popping up. For me, the thing that came immediately to mind whenever anyone asked was an old song from Boston that tells the story of “the man who never returned.” In the original song the man took a ride on the subway (the MTA), and got stuck riding back and forth forever, never able to make his way home… The song hit home for a lot of reasons, and whenever I think of City Slicka the refrain (with slightly reworked lyrics) runs through my head:

But did he ever return?

No he never returned and his fate is still unlearned (he may hike forever)

He may hike forever on the Appalachian

He’s the man who never returned

We had all known that City Slicka was from Boston, that he left home one day to hike the Appalachian Trail, and, at some level, most of us knew that he was never going to return… We just assumed he was going to hike forever. Though I have since learned City Slicka’s fate, I choose to remember him somewhere out there, hiking to infinity on the Appalachian Trail.

Patrick

“The others had run into City Slicka at Trail Days and we wondered where he was. Shortly after this was voiced, City Slicka showed up at McAfee Knob.” – Garrett Fondoules, April 24, 2014 (source: Facebook)

It is with sadness (and a wee dram of whiskey) that I sit down to share with you some of the stories that have made me laugh, given me solace, and contributed to the legend of the man I knew as City Slicka on the AT. For those of you that didn’t know him, a quick heads up, City Slicka may have been a legend, but he was no saint. Like a lot of the colorful characters on the trail, City Slicka was a polarizing figure… I’ve heard him described, affectionately (or not), as “a drunk with a hiking problem.” They weren’t exactly wrong, but those of us that were his friends knew that underneath his drunken, foul-mouthed, gruff exterior, he had a heart of gold, and a troubled soul. As one of City’s friends from college put it, “He was a brilliant man, a troubled man, and a great friend to me.”

Patrick

“City Slicka’s calves… –with Kristen McLane” (aka Siren) – Garrett Fondoules, April 24, 2014 (source: Facebook).

City Slicka And The Calves of Legend

“His calves are ‘uuge,” bragged City Slicka’s buddy admiringly.

“Oh yeah?” I smiled skeptically, took a sip of my beer, and glanced over at City Slicka. It was 2014, and though I’d met City Slicka in passing during my 2013 thru-hike of the AT, this was the first I’d heard of his legendary calves. His eyes twinkled with a confident smile, clearly enjoying the praise. He had the weathered look of a legit thru-hiker, with a long scraggly beard, scruffy brown hair, and the physique of someone that’s spent most of the last year hiking every day, but I wasn’t easily impressed. I’d just finished back-to-back thru-hikes of the AT ’13 and the PCT ’14 and had pretty impressive calves of my own.

“They’re the most finely sculpted calves on the AT,” chimed in another guy.

“I don’t know,” I replied, still unconvinced, “my calves are pretty sculpted.”

“I’ll show ya mine,” laughed City Slicka, finishing his beer, “if you show me yours!”

“Bring it!” I laughed, and before we knew it, City Slicka and I were rolling our pants up, and our socks down, and comparing the cut of our respective calves in front of a couple of highly entertained long-distance hikers.

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A photo of City Slicka’s calf in an all American Knee sock – Tricia “Pop Tart” Jehn (source: Facebook).

“Not bad,” acknowledged City with a nod, as we stood there, flexing our calves on the cool October afternoon. His calves were definitely bigger than mine, but when it came to whose calves were the most finely sculpted, we decided to call it a draw (he was being generous).

“I see you all have met,” interjected my friend Colonel. I knew him from the PCT, and City Slicka knew him from the AT in Maine.

“Ay-yup,” I replied as G-Hippie handed us each another beer.

“Well, ya know,” Colonel continued with his thick Philly accent, before switching into an attempt at a Boston accent, “ya both are from Boston, and you’re both wicked smahht.” I looked at him and rolled my eyes. First, because his attempt at a Boston accent was pathetic, and second, conversations about smarts make me uncomfortable.

“Wicked f**kin’ smaht he-ah with my bee-Ah” I shrugged, cracking open my beer and taking a sip. I grew up in Massachusetts and lived in the Boston area for over a decade, and the Worcester area for even longer, so there’s no doubt I could own a Massachusetts accent, but my accent wasn’t anything like the thick Southie accent City Slicka commanded.

“Ay-ya,” nodded City, “wicked fuckin’ smaht.”

“Well,” Colonel continued doggedly, “Doc-tah Songa’ he-ah went to MIT and worked at Ha’va’d.”

“So I c’n pa’k my ca’ in ha’vah’d yah’d if ya’d like,” I replied glibly, neither confirming nor denying anything Colonel said.

“Are ya done?” Colonel paused significantly, raised an eyebrow and said, “Well? Are ya?” I shrugged a shoulder with a silent noncommittal maybe.

“And City Slick over there,” he directed my gaze over to City, “has like three f**in’ degrees in like geo-f**in-chemistry and shi**, and …” he paused to take a quick breath before continuing.

“You both worked for some sort of NASA f**in’ sh** or sumthin’, and y’all are some of the smartest f**in’ people I know… so you should talk and sh**,” he finished his sentence and looked pointedly from me to City Slicka and back again. We weren’t helping him out at all, and just looked at him silently.

“So what are you all waiting for?” Colonel exclaimed, leaning forward and waving his arms around at us, “Talk Already!” He took a quick breath, clearly exasperated by the two of us, “… and Go!” he finished, leaned back expectantly, took a sip of his beer, and waited, eyebrows raised for us to follow his directions…

Following orders isn’t exactly my strong suit, and City Slicka didn’t seem to be in a hurry to comply either, so the lull in the conversation just kept growing. I looked over at G-Hippy to see if he was gonna help us out, but the answer was a smile and a shrug. Nope. He was just going to sit back and enjoy the show.

“Massholes,” Colonel muttered, half under his breath, “the both of you!”

“True‘n‘nuff,” I nodded, owning it.

“Born’n bred,” agreed City Slicka.

City Slicka (Patrick O'Meara) in 2014

Photo of City Slicka at Hiker’s Ridge Ministry Center in 2014 (source: Facebook)

After that, we got to talking about Massachusetts, which parts of it we’d lived in, where we were from, and the different accents from different areas. City Slicka had a super thick Southie accent that I couldn’t imitate even if I tried, and my accent (which I think mostly isn’t very noticeable) is more of the central Massachusetts accent, closer to a Wistah (Worcester) accent. We joked about Tollbooth Willie and the T (the subway system in Boston), and talked enough science and backpacking to suss out whether the other person was full of sh** or legit. There are lots of bullsh**ers on the Trail, but by the end of night I’d come to the conclusion that City Slicka was legit, and we’ve been friends ever since.

It was an unlikely friendship in a lot of ways, but wasn’t any the lesser for it. City Slicka was part of my trail family, and acted a bit like an older brother to me in the trail community. He is one of the only folks I know that has spent more time solo than I have, is a more experienced backpacker than I am, and understood what it was like to be both ‘hiker trash’ and a proverbial ‘rocket scientist’. We shared a lot of stories and advice, gave each other occasional pep talks, and though he knew I could take care of my own damn self, he was always looking out for me. There are lots and lots and lots of folks that try to give me advice about backpacking, but he’s the guy I knew I could turn to for trail advice when I needed it…. Like now. *sigh* (aside: I wouldn’t have had to explain to him how I managed to get poison ivy despite the 2 ½ feet of snow on the ground, and he would know the fastest/bestest way to get the urushiol off of my backpack and all my nice warm down winter gear and decontaminate everything. Sure, I can figure it out, but it’s a pain in my *ss, and it’s feeling like a daunting task right now, and City would have just known, and he would have managed to get me laughing about it (no easy feat) and thinking it wasn’t a big deal…) *sigh*

Patrick

From Wanderlustforlife (May 2014), “This is City Slicka with Daisy the Dog. City has given me lots of advice. He’s a yo-yo hiker and is in his fourth continuous hike. From Boston, he’s about 40 and says before the trail he weighed 280 and sat on a bar stool all the time. We tell him he’s a drunk with a hiking problem.”

City Slicka: Serious Talk

City Slicka didn’t talk much about his life in Southie before the trail, but occasionally he would stay with me in Boston (usually on his way to- or from- the bus station) when he was in town visiting family. I knew that his mom and his sister still lived in the area, that he loved them, and that the family dynamics were… complicated… He gave mad props to his sister for sticking around and dealing with sh**, and would explain with a deep sadness in his eyes that he just couldn’t… that he needed to get back to the trail.

“I know,” I’d say, giving him a hug, “I get it.” City and I both spent thousands and thousands of miles hiking alone, with rocks and trees as our only company. Over the years we’d talked about the solace and solitude of the woods and joked about how much easier trees were to deal with than people. We’d talked about long-distance hiking, post-trail depression, and the challenges associated with trying to come back to civilization, either to visit (like City was doing), or to stay (that would be me). I don’t know how to describe the bond that City and I had, the wordless understanding that coping was easier while walking, the relaxed banter of mutual expertise, and I don’t know… We were weirdly the flip slides of a coin… I was usually feeling angsty about returning to civilization, and he was usually feeling angsty about leaving it… I guess mostly I supported him and understood his angst about leaving, and he supported me and understood my angst about staying…

“Patches,” City Slicka had reminded me, “yo-a fuckin’ ha’d co-ah, and comin’ back do’n change dat,” (translation: you’re hard core, and coming back doesn’t change that). He looked me in the eye, very seriously, “I would come back if I could, but we both know that that ain’ eva’ happenin’,” then he got a faraway look in his eyes, “There ain’ no comin’ back fo’ me…” he paused as the weight of that truth settled on us both. We both knew that it was true. I could still function in society, so for me, coming back and re-integrating into society was a choice. For City? Not so much. “But,” he continued with a reassuring smile, “I’ve made my peace wid i’ ” (translation: I’ve made my peace with it). I nodded, and knew that he had. City Slicka wasn’t trying to sugar coat it, or wallow in it, he was just tellin’ it like it was.

“Well, I gotta take a piss,” City blurted out, breaking the somber mood, and abruptly leaving the room.

Patrick O’Meara Becomes City Slicka

City Slicka (Patrick O'Meara) in 1994 at the ATC

Photo of City Slicka (Patrick O’Meara) and The Great Gherkin (Thad McDonald) taken at the ATC in Harpers Ferry August 4, 1994 (source: the ATC)

Patrick O’Meara was already going by the trail name City Slicka in 1994. I found the above photo of him sporting both his given name and trail name, and then, I found a post he made back in 1997 explaining how exactly he got dubbed with the trail name City Slicka, and why it mattered. The title of the thread was “AT Traditions, and their downfall” and I’ve included City Slicka’s words below:

“It’s just that Trailnames that have a story behind them are so much more meaningful, whether you get them on the Trail or not. As an example, I started w/o one b/c I really didn’t care to think one up. Then at Deep Gap shelter in GA, while having a conversation with a group of local boy SCOUTS, ONE OF THEM ASKED WHERE I FROM, AND I TOLD HIM I WAS FROM BOSTON. He then got up and left, saying “I’m not talking to some Yankee city slicker”. From then on, my fellow hikers called me by this name, though I drop the ‘er ending for a more Bostonian ‘a. I guess I’m just being selfish w/ most of my comments, in that I want the Trail to mean as much to everyone as it does to me. And if have offended someone, I really don’t care. My comments are not racist, biased, sexist, or anything that could be harmful to someone confident enough in enough in themselves. “They’re only words, in and of themselves they’re harmless, it the context that you take them in that makes them bad” —– George Carlin” — City Slicka (Patrick O’Meara), AT ’94 – ’97, LT ’95

City Slicka: Life Before the Trail (The ‘70s to the ‘90s)

City Slicka didn’t talk much about his life and accomplishments before (or after) the trail unless you were already friends, or he was flirting with you. Although lots of people assumed that most of the myths about City Slicka’s past were greatly exaggerated, so far, all the things that he told me (and the folks I know) seem to check out. There are still some gaps, with nothing but rumors churning around, but here’s what I know:

In his pre-trail life, City Slicka’s friends knew him as Pat (Patrick Michael O’Meara). He was born May 23, 1973 and grew up in a rough and tumble neighborhood in Southie (South Boston). Everyone on the trail knew that he was from Southie. Partly because he’d tell you so, but mostly because he had a wicked thick Southie accent, the kind of accent that everyone associates with Boston.

He got into hiking in high school (the late ‘80s) through a program for troubled teens he called, “Hoods in the Woods.” We didn’t talk much about the high school antics that got him into trouble back in Southie…. Well, except when we talked about where I used to live in the ‘Ville (Somerville) and Wistah (Worcester)… but those aren’t my stories to tell.

By the early 1990s, City Slicka was ‘bit by the bug’ (the hiking bug) and started taking off on long distance hikes whenever he got the chance and by 1997 he’d walked the entire length of the Appalachian trail between Georgia and Maine at least once. When he wasn’t hiking, he did the college thing at Bridgewater State University (BSU). In the trail community, rumor had it City Slicka’s degree were chemistry or chemical engineering. He told me it was geology and chemistry. I talked to a friend of his from college (BSU) that told the story of how City Slicka ended up in Chemistry, “In college, he was a geology major, a friend of mine was a chem major and was bitching about the difficulty of Organic Chem. Well, Pat starts taking chem courses to get a job tutoring.”

I laughed, because that sounded right, but I wasn’t 100% convinced that the Pat he knew, and the City Slicka I knew were the same person until he told me the PAT-SA story, “In college, he would have a monthly food budget and it wasn’t much. Some months he would decide to treat himself to steak or something expensive, which would leave him with limited funds and he’d eat noodles for a week or two, daily. Well this led us to call him Patsa (think pasta pronounced with an emphasis on PAT) He took it all in stride until he didn’t and I can still hear him yelling “CALL ME PATSA ONE MORE TIME AND I’LL STAB YOU IN THE EYE WITH RAW SPAGHETTI.” By the time I finished reading the end of the story I was laughing instead of crying, and there was absolutely no denying that the Pat he knew and the City Slicka I knew were the same person.

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City Slicka (middle, orange shirt) enjoying a pasta dinner (some thing never change?) on the AT in 2012 or 2013 (photo source: the internet)

City Slicka graduated from BSU in 1995, and completed an end-to-end hike of the Long Trail (LT ’95) in Vermont with a friend that same year. City Slicka and I had both done a lot of hiking in Vermont and the White Mountains of New Hampshire in the 1990s, and my first long distance trail was the Long Trail (LT ’98), which I hiked with my younger brothers. It was fun remembering the days when we were backpacking newbs, and talking about how much things have changed and how much they stay the same.

After finishing up the LT in 1995, City Slicka moved West, to Golden Colorado for Graduate School, where he was working on a doctorate degree in geochemistry. For those of you that thought that that part was bullsh**, I can assure you it checks out. His alma mater bragged about him in their 1997 magazine, verifying that, “Patrick O’Meara attends the Colorado School of Mines (CSM) as a graduate student in the geochemistry” (https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/48827220.pdf). He told me that he was in a doctoral program, but ended up finishing ABD (all but dissertation) with just his Master’s degree because his thesis advisor was, “bein’ a dick.” We geeked out about the science (I’ve since forgotten all of those details), but since I was in the process of moving from my pre-trail career in academia, to a post-trail career in industry, we mostly talked about the pros and cons of working for industry.

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City Slicka’s profile pic from a deleted facebook account

City Slicka: The Missing Years (the 2000s)

Rumors about what City did, and who he was, during the decade between getting his Master’s degree and settling on the AT as a full-time hiker are many, but most of them seem to hold at least a grain of truth… So, let’s get started with a game of City Slicka, fact or fiction?

He told people that he graduated from a renowned master’s program for chemical engineering. That was pretty much TRUE, he got a Master’s Degree from Colorado School of Mining, and he and I used to joke around about “bein’ engin’ ‘e-ahs” since I had a master’s degree in engineering too.

What did he do after he graduated? Those details are a little fuzzier.

He told me that after he left the Colorado School of Mines he worked as a contractor… I don’t remember if it was for Ratheon or Lockhead Martin or Boeing or one of the Big Oil Companies, but it was one of the big industry players, with a reputation for being flush with cash and flexible with morals. I was doing contract work for Big Pharma at the time, and we were talking about the pros and cons of going to- and working for- the DARK SIDE. We both agreed that the money was good, but the bosses were bad.

For City, the biggest advantage of working in industry was that he’d banked enough money as a contractor to support his hiking habit. It wasn’t a ton of money, and his budget was tight, but he skimped and stretched it, and it was “good’n’nuff.” He was by no means wealthy, but he had had enough to “retire” early (trail rumor suggests he was 32 when he retired) and become full-time hika’ trash (by 2012ish). I couldn’t fault his logic, but I did the math, and it was definitely a tighter budget than I thought I could pull off… I have a real fondness for steak :-P

He told Sisyfus (April 9, 2014) that he was “the inventor of something that was bought by NASA and used on the Mars Rover,” and though I can’t confirm that all of those details are true, I do know that at least some of it checks out. CSU, where City did his graduate work, has been involved in space research since the 1990s, and has been hosting a “Space Resources Roundtable” where academics, folks from NASA, and private sector industrial participants get together, talk shop, and make plans to mine the moon, mars, asteroids, or whatever else might be profitable. Although neither of us had worked directly for NASA, we had both been involved in research for NASA. We’d been involved in different aspects of the Space Program, so didn’t know any of the same people, but we had fun talking about how surreal some of the NASA conferences had seemed. Did City Slicka invent something that was purchased by NASA and used on the Mars Rover? Probably. I expect it was more like he was part of a team of contractors that invented/created something bought by NASA, but the story fits with what I knew about City.

We had a few other conversations about those in between times, when he was working as a contractor, but not many… just enough for me to have a sense of which rumors were complete and utter BS, and which things seemed about right… We mostly had these conversations while I was doing research on a military base… the running joke at the time was, “I could tell ya, but then I’d haveta kill ya.”

While I don’t know a lot of those in between details, I do know that when he returned to the AT to start his first thru-hike he was fat and out of shape. At one point I mentioned to City that I’d lost about 60 pounds on my thru-hike of the AT. He smiled indulgently, “I gotcha beat,” he grinned patting his belly proudly… “I must-a’ lossa’d ova’ a’hund-ed (I must have lost over a hundred).

“I was a chubby bastah’d,” he laughed. I don’t remember exactly what he said he weighed pre-trail, but it made the ~200 lbs I’d started the AT weighing seem like small potatoes. He told some other hikers in 2013 that, “before the trail he weighted 280 and sat on a bar stool all the time. We tell him he’s a drunk with a hiking problem…”

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City Slicka (middle, no hat) on the AT in Maine in 2012 (posted by Clark King, March 17, 2013)

City Slicka: >21,000 Career AT Miles (the 2010s)

City Slicka re-surfaced on the AT sometime in the 2000s, and by 2012 his name began popping up in the blogs and posts of the other thru-hikers as he started racking up miles and sculpting his legendary calves as he ponged back and forth along the trails of the Appalachian Mountains. In 2013 alone, City Slicka hiked 4,153.4 miles (he counted ’em up and gave Doc Spice the total). By the end of 2014, City Slicka hiked the AT from end-to-end at least 5 times (4 continuous thru-hikes since 2012, and at least once in the ‘90s), with more than 11,000 career miles, and was well on his way to becoming an AT legend.

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Doc Spice and City Slicka on the AT in New York in 2012; according to Doc Spice, City Slicka had been bouncing back and forth between the AT (in the summer) and skiing in Colorado for the winter for between 4 and 10 years in 2013 (photo: from Doc Spice’s blog).

An article from November 2015 advised AT hikers to get to know 2 of the Appalachian Trail Legends: Baltimore Jack, and City Slicka saying, “City Slicka has been hiking the trail since 2012. Non-stop. He hikes to Maine. And then back to Georgia. And then back to Maine…etc. So he knows the way better than just about anyone, making him a great night hiking partner. The former chemist will show you where the closest liquor stores are, as well as give you a lesson on how to save your money (401K!)

Some people keep track of every mile they hike, but City Slicka told me that was bullsh**. “What’s the point?” he’d grumble, bristling (silently or not so silently) as some friggin’ peacock came struttin’ around thinkin’ they were hot sh** because they’d hiked a few thousand miles of the trail. He had more miles on the AT than just about anyone, and he knew it. He’d hiked the trail enough times that he’d quit counting, which wasn’t to say that he couldn’t figure it out-ish, it’s just that it wasn’t usually worth the effort.

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“City Slicka (in green). Two great guys and already well known along the trail.” – Travis Shepherd Hall, March 25, 2014 (source: Facebook)

Late one night, must have been 2016, we were chatting about total career miles (A friend of ours, Colonel, had been lecturing me, informing me in no uncertain terms that I should be keeping track of my total # of career backpacking miles) and City Slicka decided to try to count ‘em up. It was kind of hilarious, because he was trying to count out his thru-hikes on his fingers, but we kept getting distracted and loosing count. Before long we were both sitting there trying to count on our fingers, “Ay-ya,” laughed City, “Wicked f’in’ smaht he-ah, countin’ wid ah’ fingahs.” At that point he’d finished his 7th or 12th hike of the AT? (We never did manage to finish counting, but I’m pretty sure he was waving 2 fingers around when the conversation ended), had done the Benton McKay, and was working on blue-lining the AT (hiking all of the trails that connect to the AT).

Nobody is exactly sure what City Slicka’s total career miles were or how many times he ponged back and forth from Georgia to Maine on the Appalachian Trail, but the consensus seems to be that he had over 21,000 career AT miles, and roughly 8 continuous AT thru-hikes between 2012 and 2019.

Some folks thought City Slicka was a Triple Crowner (hiked the AT, PCT and CDT), but that rumor was FALSE. “Hrmph,” City Slicka mumbled when I asked him about it, before telling me in no uncertain terms that he’d never hiked those other trails and was never going to. I tried to sell him on the awesomeness of some of the other trails, but he wasn’t buying it, not even a little bit. He eventually conceded that the mountains in Colorado were pretty awesome and he’d hiked and skied there a bunch in his pre-trail days. The Colorado Trail, he admitted, might tempt him away from the East Coast ever so briefly, but the AT was his trail and always would be. Nothing and no-one would ever change his mind about that.

“It’s jus’ home,” City Slicka explained, a little misty eyed explaining that he knew every rock, root, and tree between Georgia and Maine like the back of his hand. And, more than that, the AT was the place where he felt like he belonged. In additional to sculpting impressive calves as he’d hiked up and down the trail, City had established a community up and down the trail. He’d found a group of folks, his hiker family, that appreciated his awesomeness, acknowledged his flaws, and loved him anyway…

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City Slicka and crew at Trail Angel Mary’s house for her birthday in July of 2018 in Pennsylvania (photo courtesy of Trail Angel Mary)

By continuously ponging back and forth on the AT, City Slicka had developed stronger ties to the people and places between Georgia and Maine than any of the rest of us could imagine. The sense of community, connection, and belonging he found on the AT was something I know he appreciated, because he told me so. His connection to the AT trail community was much tighter than mine, but he considered me to be part of his trail family, and when I was feeling disconnected and more alone than was good for me, he would remind me that no matter how far off the grid I was, my trail family was still with me. The last time I saw him, we were both getting ready to disappear into the woods for a while. Though solitude was a fairly constant companion for City Slicka, I’d been back in civilization for a couple of years, and where I was headed out on the CDT, I was anticipating (and got) a lot more solitude than I was used to.

“Ya know Patches,” City Slicka reminded me, “you may be hikin’ solo, but ya’r neva’ alo-en out the-ah.” City Slicka paused and looked at me with that intense look he had when we wanted to make sure that you were paying attention, and you know, actually listening. I nodded, and he continued, “yer trail family is always wid’ja.”

“It’s good ta rememba’ dat,” he concluded solemnly.

“Yeah, I know” I agreed, and then continued, “but reminders are good.”

We stood there lost in our own thoughts for a minute… we both knew that remembering that you didn’t have to do everything alone, that there were folks out there that would help if you let them, was easier said then done.

“Ya know?” I said, nudging us back out of the silence, and reminding him that everything he was saying to me, was also true for him.

“Yeah,” he agreed, abruptly standing up and walking away.

“I, a’,” he resumed, as he started rummaging around in his pack, “give me a sec, I got sumthin’ fo’ ya.”

I’m not gonna lie, I wasn’t sure what to expect… City Slicka wasn’t 100% predictable, but he didn’t usually have anything in his pack that he wasn’t going to need to bring with him to see him through the next stretch of trail… We had plenty of food and whiskey, and I don’t smoke, so… I had no idea where this was headed.

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City Slicka standing in Trail Angel Mary’s living room with his sleeping bag, wearing his Riff-Raff! shirt (Photo courtesy of Trail Angel Mary).

“It’s my reminda,” he beamed, a minute or two later as he triumphantly pulled a black Riff-Raff! bandana out of his pack. It was the sweetest gesture ever, but I hesitated, I couldn’t take City’s reminder, he needed it.
“It’s wash’t,” he explained hurriedly with a little self-conscious frown, “but it ain’ exac’ly clean,” he admitted.

“It’s not that, it’s just….”

“Oh,” Interrupted City realizing that I was worried about him, “It’s ok. I’m gonna’ gedd’a new-un nex’ week when I see ’em all.” We was referring to Riff-Raff!. For those of you that aren’t familiar with all of the AT sub-cultures, Riff-Raff! is a tightly knit trail family of thru-hiker alum and trail angels that has a reputation for partying hard. City Slicka was a ‘shirted’ member (think of it as being a card carrying member) of Riff-Raff!, and proud of it (he had the tattoo on his leg to prove it).

“Ya know I’m not shirted, right?” I said. He looked at me and lifted an eyebrow. “I have trouble with crowds,” I shrugged, “so I’ve never been to Trail Days. I always end up bailing and doing a solo backpacking trip instead.”

“I ge’ it,” he nodded, “bu’ you sh’d go, Riff-Raff! are good people,” he paused thoughtfully, “well mostly,” he clarified, “but they’re my people,” he smiled distantly remembering something. Suddenly the smile faded and he looked at me, his blue eyes intensely serious, “they’d take care of yer.” I nodded, Riff-Raff! has a reputation for being the hardest partiers on the trail, but they’re also a fiercely loyal group that looks after their people.
“You should have this,” he re-iterated, handing me the bandana.
“You’re sure?” I asked impulsively. He gave me a look, the one that said don’t be a dumba**, I wouldn’t offer it if I didn’t mean it.
“Thank you, City Slicka,” I accepted the bandana, and pressed it to my heart. There was a lot more going on in this simple interaction, than just the exchange of a dirty black bandana.

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City Slicka sporting the black bandana on his pack (Photo: June 26, 2013, taken by Cj Polett)

Afterward

When I heard about City Slicka’s death, I immediately pulled out that dirty black bandana, pressed it to my heart, and cried. City Slicka left the trail in Virginia, boarded a Greyhound bus headed for Colorado, and killed himself (his body was found in Texas). It was absolutely heartbreaking to think of him dying alone out there, and I scoured the internet trying to find information that would help bring me closure. I didn’t find it. The things that have brought me solace are the things that City told me, and the outpouring of support from his people (both the old crew that knew him as Pat, and the new crew that knew him as City Slicka).

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“Watauga Lake: Fresh, The Goat, Ghengis, Blue Deer, Stretch, Kamikaze, Peppa and City Slicka” – Hiking with Gandalf, April 17, 2014 (source: Facebook)

It helped that I didn’t have to wonder if he’d found peace somewhere out there on the trail, I know he did, because he’d told me so in his out-loud voice. I didn’t have to wonder if he knew that his trail family supported him, because I knew that he knew. He’d told me so in his out-loud voice. Not only that, he understood that truth so well that he’d tried to share that support with me when I was feeling the weight of a little too much solitude. I also know that his trail family helped him get professional help. It’s just that sometimes it’s not enough, and that may be the most heartbreaking part all. City Slicka is the second friend from the AT class of 2013 that I’ve lost to suicide. I’m afraid that he won’t be the last. I’m not sure that I know how to talk about it, but I’m going to try, because no matter how flawed, I’d like the colorful characters that I call friends to remain in my life soo….

I’d like to encourage everyone to get outside, to enjoy the trails and the wild places that the world has to offer, but at the same time I’d like to remind everyone that a thru-hike isn’t a panacea that will cure all that ails you… it’s an epic adventure that may help you ignore your demons for a little while, but it doesn’t usually make them go away… As one of City Slicka’s friends, I wish I could have helped him get the help he needed. I wish that he was still here and that I could help him fight the good fight, but he’s not, so I can’t. Instead, I’m going to listen to City Slicka’s advice, and try to remember that I don’t have to face my demons alone. I’m going to remember that even when I’m alone, my family (both on the trail, and off of it) want to support me, and I’m going to try to do a better job of letting them support me, and trusting that I’m not the only person that has my back… My family and community has my back, just as certainly as I have theirs… It’s what we do, and who we are.

So, pour one out for City Slicka, hug the people you love, get the help you need, be the help you can, and hike your own hike.

But did he ever return?

No he never returned and his fate is still unlearned (he may hike forever)

He may hike forever on the Appalachian

He’s the man who never returned

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City Slicka helping out with some chores at Trail Angel Mary’s house (source: Trail Angel Mary, July 25, 1018)

Appendices & References

City Slicka: Tales from The Internet

In 2017 City Slicka messaged me to tell me he was quitting Facebook and asking for my number so we could stay in touch. He was tired of all the fu**in’ pose-ahs (posers) and ah’m-chay-ah’ (armchair) bulls**t wannabe’s online. He had a reputation for being “wicked smaht,” and did a pretty good job of disappearing from the internet, but he didn’t get rid of everything. For folks that still want to know more about City, I’ve included some links to the blogs, posts, and other info I found about City Slicka as I was poking around the internet (First, a couple of stories, then a timeline with links and information).

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“Finally met the legend, City Slicka!” – Kestral the Backpacking Yogi, November 8, 2015 (source: Facebook)

Stories

“City has given me lots of advice. He’s a yo-yo hiker and is in his fourth continuous hiker. From Boston, he’s about 40 and says before the trail he weighted 280 and sat on a bar stool all the time. We tell him he’s a drunk with a hiking problem…” – May 2014, https://wanderforlife.com/2014/05/page/2/

“But then I met City Slicka’. The dude is old school hiker trash. He claims to be a previous through hiker, the inventor of something that was bought by NASA and used on the Mars Rover, a Triple Crowner (hiked the AT, PCT and CDT), independently wealthy, a graduate of a renowned masters program for Chemical engineering, and a whole slew of other things. It would seem that he hasn’t had a job in a while. He claims to have been on one trail or another for the last five years. He’s rocking one of the most impressive mullet/mohawks I’ve ever seen and maintains a pervasive odor of marijuana. He’s always smoking. And drinking. He also never shuts up. When I got to the hostel he had already been there for two and a half days and when I left he looked like he was setting up camp for a continued extended stay.” – Sisyfus (April 9, 2014)

“City Slicka has been hiking the trail since 2012. Non-stop. He hikes to Maine. And then back to Georgia. And then back to Maine…etc. So he knows the way better than just about anyone, making him a great night hiking partner. The former chemist will show you where the closest liquor stores are, as well as give you a lesson on how to save your money (401K!)” – November 2015, https://yuki.la/out/1640594

2017_D_Dearman

“RIP City Slicka. I just found out I lost a dear hiking friend. I met City on the AT. We traveled many miles together. He was a special guy, a sweet soul who brought happiness to everyone he met,. He lived to hike, it was his world. I will miss you.” – Donna “Eagle-Eye” Dearmon (source: Facebook)

“Joe’s first lieutenant, at least while we stayed at the hostel, is a burly, equally grizzled, early-middle-aged hiker who goes by the moniker City Slicker (the -er is pronounced -ah. Slicker’s from Boston). Slicker has calves that bodybuilders pine for, and his legs are tattooed with symbols of the trail: the ATC, four shaggy pine trees for Four Pines, Trail Days, Riff Raff, etc. Slicker is one of those lucky souls who loves their life so much that they constantly seek out parts of it to complain about. Today, it was the upcoming bubble—the concentrated mass of thru-hikers who left Springer mid-March, and who have been averaging 12-18 miles daily. “The party crowd,” or “the fuckboy parade,” as Slicker knows them.” https://thetrek.co/appalachian-trail/the-four-pines-hostel/

“Later this guy City Slicka, an annoying and somewhat psychocotic vagrant from South Boston, showed up. He wouldn’t leave us girls alone but gave us good advice on getting to Walmart and a heads up that the cops swing by the hostel three times a day since the local meth heads had been giving hikers trouble. Gotta love the meth heads. J. Rex and I were stationed outside organizing our resupply we got from Walmart but couldn’t hardly get anything done because City Slicka was drunk and kept telling us these ridiculous reasons why he’s been living on the trail for 3 years (he retired at 32 after inventing the Mars Rover, was a too-smart doctor to work, etc.).” https://katiesappalachiantrailadventure.wordpress.com/feed/

“This hits me hard. City was like my Trail Dad in ’15 – first person I met on the trail, and saw him on and off throughout the whole experience, also hiking and hanging with him a bunch in 2016 on my full thru. Last I saw him was at a shelter just before crossing into ME where he gave me a moose femur to hike to Katahdin, as we hadn’t yet seen one. We saw our first moose later that night, and that femur now rests on my bookshelf. The trail lost one of the vert best- may your soul rest peacefully in paradise dear brother 🙏😭😭😭” – Brent Wander Borgemeister, Facebook

“APPALACHIAN TRAIL | APRIL 14 | DAY 51: Leave Four Pines after listening to City Slicka’s stories of last night, in which he chased away a fox with a rake. The fox tore up one of the chickens, but Joe will ‘take care of it’ later (with his shotgun, it is implied). Meanwhile we’re told that the Guinea Hens are on ‘tick patrol’ and used to rule the roost until Joe got ducks, and now the ducks rule the roost because they are ‘fuckin gangsters’. Alex and I head to Roanoke for a zero day and I finally get someone to look at my legs and prescribe some GD steroids for what turns out to be poison ivy. The pharmacist tells me I might feel like slapping anyone who says hello, and not to worry—it’s normal to feel ‘a little tense’ on heaps of ‘roids. We eat good food, drink good beer, and I get a full-body Epsom salt soak in the tub. Back on trail tomorrow!” -@hikeasaurustreks (April 2019)

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“Third annual 2013 AT Hiker Thanksgiving at Patriot’s house. What a great tradition! With Patriot, Mudmouth, Yardsale, Tin Cup, Whiskers, City Slicka, EagleRunner, Chapinlara, Shepherd, The Triplets, and Tugboat.” – Deb Van Schaack (source: Facebook)

Timeline

1970s & 1980s:

  • Pat (Patrick Michael O’Meara) was born May 23, 1973 and grew up in a rough and tumble neighborhood in Southie (source: “United States Public Records, 1970-2009”, database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:KLVW-G1B : 8 November 2019), Patrick M Omeara, 2001-2008.)
  • He started hiking in high school through a program for troubled teens he called, “Hoods in the Woods.” (source: personal accounts)

1990s: Total miles hiked > 2500 (AT Georgia to Maine + End-to-End Long Trail, VT). By the early 1990s Pat had started taking off on long distance hikes whenever he got the chance (source: City Slicka & college friends).

  • 1994 – 1997: Appalachian Trail (AT), Pat had been dubbed “City Slika” and completed at least one AT thru (source: City Slicka)
  • 1995: Graduated from college (Bridgewater State University): Degrees in Geology and Chemistry and completed an End-to-End hike of the Long Trail, Vermont with a friend (source: City Slicka, Bridgwater State and friend from College)
  • 1996 – 1997: “Patrick O’Meara attends the Colorado School of Mines as a graduate student in the geochemistry” (source: https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/48827220.pdf).

2000s: Between 1998 and 2011 the only information I have about City is from conversations we had, and rumors of other conversations. Rumor has it that City retired when he was 32 years old, which would have been 2005, other rumors say he started hiking the AT somewhere around 2002, others say he started hiking 2011.

2010s: City Slicka started showing up in AT photos and blogs in 2012

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City Slicka on the Harris Homestead Trail (source: unknown)


Updates and Additional Notes

NOTE (12/16/2019): I worked with the folks at 4 Pines to create a photobook for the hostel out of this post and some of the photos of City Slicka that I’ve collected. Since I’ve already done the work to put it together, I decided to make it publicly available (click here to preview the photobook or get a link to the eBook) in case anyone else is interested. I’ve also received a few cool photos of City Slicka since the original posting, and may add more below as time allows.

Patrick "City Slicka" O'Meara with a snapping turtle

“The story of the snapping turtle: October 5, 2014. City Slicka had just finished up his hike at Katahdin, and we were heading back to the park to celebrate with trail magic. We spot a turtle in the road and we instantly agree to help it across. Before I can even pull over, City jumps out of the moving car, runs over and picks up the turtle, explaining his knowledge of snapping turtles, and convincing me he knew the proper way to pick up a snapping turtle, as he staggered across the road! Of course I had capture the moment for historic preservation.” – Turtle Traxx

NOTE (1/9/2020): This post is currently serving as the obituary for City Slicka (Patrick O’Meara). City’s disappearance in July, and the notice of his death have left many of us with more questions than answers. For me, the absence the specific date of his death has been particularly disquieting. I spent endless hours scouring the internet searching for the date. Surely his death was mentioned in a paper or police log somewhere? When my online searches failed, I started reaching out to newspapers, police departments, and state officials. Still nothing. Eventually I filed the paperwork and $$ required by the state of Texas to get the official word. Though the process is painfully slow, I’ve received confirmation that my request was received and should be receiving official information from the state of Texas (by snail mail) sometime between January 20th and February 10th. I’ll keep all y’all posted.

UPDATE (2/11/2020): Today I received information from state offices in Texas confirming that City Slicka (Patrick M. O’Meara) died there. Although I am still waiting for the official notification (via snail mail), they shared with me the date of his passing: July 11, 2019.

UPDATE (2/14/2020): The official ‘verification of death’ letter from the Texas Department of Health and Human Services arrived today. It states, “A search was made of the DEATHS records in the state of Texas to verify the death of the person named below. A death record was filed for PATRICK MICHEAL O’MEARA deceased July 11, 2019 in TITUS County, Texas.” Neither the cause of death, nor the specific town are listed. I will note that there is a Greyhound Bus Station in Titus County (Mt. Pleasant, Texas), which would have been en route from Roanoke, VA -> Dallas, TX -> Colorado.

Patrick "City Slicka" O'Meara with a 22 lb fish

Patrick “City Slicka” O’Meara (sometime in the late 2000s?) with a big fish, “22 lbs I think he said,” – Wicked (source Wicked)

Thank you to Wicked who reached out with some more photos of City Slicka from his old phone including two of City Slicka and Chet (Chet is wearing City Slicka’s shirt), one of City Slicka and Trail Angel Mary, and a bunch of other photos of City Slicka:

May he hike forever on the Appalachian, he’s the man that never returned…

32 thoughts on “RIP City Slicka “Patrick O’Meara” (1973 – 2019): The Man Who Never Returned

  1. the last 2 years we became close as brothers. I know alot of stuff he never told anyone about those missing early 2000 year’s. If you want any info email me.

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  2. I was City’s first hiking partner on the AT. We met near Springer on May 17, 1994. We hiked together most of the way to HF where he got off that year to go back to undergrad school. He used to stop at my house once or twice a year when he passed through. I hiked with him again in 95 for a few hundred miles. I lost touch with him after telling him I was doing the PCT in 98. In 2012 he found me on Facebook. The one person I always wanted to re-connect with! It was trail magic for me. I want to mention he did the Tuscarora Trail southbound in 2014. It passes near my home in Gore, Virginia and I hosted him on the hike. I viewed him as my troubled brother and I miss him greatly now that I know he won’t be passing through Gore anymore 😪.
    The last time I saw him was at Wintergreen resort this Spring. I showed him a waterfall near the trail he didn’t know about. I could tell he loved the find. Damb City, I’m gonna miss you Brother!!!

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    • It was a rare thing to get to show City something about/near the trail that he didn’t already know :) That’s awesome. Now that you mention it, I remember him telling me about the Tuscarora Trail, I’ve hiked part, but not all of it. I never talked to City about those early hikes in the ’90s, so it’s great to hear from someone that was there. I figured he was probably section-hiking the AT between ’94 and ’97, but wasn’t sure if he’d hiked it more than once in that time… I’d love to figure out how many miles/thrus he actually pulled off… I’m pretty sure that 21,000 career miles is a massive underestimate, but that was all I able to document and confirm.

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      • I learned about his passing from your post so I thank you for that. It would have sucked to just wonder what happened. I also commented kind of jumbled like my emotions were. We hiked in 95 on the AT in New England (partly the long trail). I talked to him in between but didn’t see him again till 2014. That’s when he seemed to make my place one of his regular stops. Like I said, reconnecting with him was trail magic and he was my ambassador of sorts back into the long distance hiking world. I’m now planning on finishing my triple crown (CDT 2024) and I know he will be with me in spirit. I have lots of pictures including from 94 and 95. We should plan another memorial or memorial hike if possible. I think it would help some of his friends to get to know each other and swap stories. It’s hard to feel any closure as it is now. I’m in the phone book, or email me at tyleringore@yahoo.com if interested.

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  3. Patches: Normally my morning coffee and cereal are consumed while reading The Associated Press and other media, or sermon/worship-related content. (I’m a retired newspaper editor and pastor at a small United Methodist Church in Alcoa, Tennessee.) I’m not a thru-hiker and only began section hiking in 2010. I haven’t logged a lot of miles (probably no more than 200), and don’t have the psychology nor physical ability (a lot of arthritis) to ever think I’ll complete the Trail. Yet, I’m drawn to the Trail and community. Your moving tribute to City Slicka, aka, “Patrick O’Meara,” brought me close to tears. In 2013, the Holston Conference of the United Methodist Church began an A.T. chaplaincy ministry. We sponsor a thru-hiking chaplain who’s not there to convert, but is essentially a trail angel who is part of the community. After getting to the end of your tribute, I thought, “This is why the A.T. Chaplaincy exists.” Not that a chaplain could have prevented what happened, but to be there nonetheless … Thank you for this post.

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  4. This is remarkable. I’ve seen City Slicka’s name in trail registers. I don’t think I ever met him, yet I still balled my eyes out reading this. You do an impressive and respectful job of sketching out the shape of a life lived largely in private, lonely places. True trail magic.

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  5. Thank you. I’ll always miss city. Met him in 16 in the Grayson highlands. Hiked together for 500 miles. I can’t believe he’s gone but I understand what he was going through. I was just about there myself a couple years ago.

    Camp stir fry forever City. Love ya brotha.

    -Noodles
    NOBO 2016

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    • I learned about Camp Stir Fry from Long Spoon when I worked with him in 2017. City was always entertained when he learned that his hiking companions from different parts of his journey had wound up working together.

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  6. Breaks my heart, as a hiker and a human, sometimes life is so very hard. Humans are harsh and sometimes we just need to be appreciated for who we are.

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  7. It was a damned cruel blow to learn about this last month. Thanks for writing these words about our friend and trail brotha. There are a lot of characters out there in the woods but there never has and never will be anybody quite like City Slicka, and it’s an especially hard blow to lose one of the few “chronic hikers” that’s been such a part of the Trail. I’m going to start off with one more quote to support his wicked smahts:
    “You have never truly learned to sweep unless you have wielded a broom in a room full of flourite- lensed polarizing microscopes.” – City Slicka
    I first met City Slicka in the Smokies on March 23, 2013, at Tri-Corner Knob Shelter. It was pouring rain and City was settling in for a shelter zero when I headed out the next morning. I hitched in to Asheville from Davenport Gap and he passed me, and then I passed him again camped along the French Broad River just outside Hot Springs. He was zeroing again and waiting for a friend from Knoxville to come pick him up. I didn’t see him again until he showed up on McAfee Knob just after Trail Days and only minutes after Siren and I had been speculating on where he was. Glad you found the picture of Siren with his calves, and for the other picture he proclaimed me to be pretty hardcore to have dumped all my water into a hollow of the rock to pick up a reflection.
    I bounced off of my old hometown after my thru-hike and continued wandering around the Appalachians, albeit in a different fashion. City and I became good friends in spite of our differences – I remember not hearing others but City identifying himself to be a “drinker with a hiking problem”, while I have never drank alcohol once. He respected that, and in return he is the only person I’ve ever brought beer on the Trail, toting it northbound into the Hundred Mile Wilderness in 2015 when I knew he was going to pass me going the other direction. We were in touch on and off when he had Facebook or when he had a phone, and sometimes were in touch when we would randomly pass each other in the woods. City was on the Trail first, but we shared the understanding that comes with many years spent in the Appalachians without being able to return to the places from which we had come.
    For a weird little while in the fall of 2015 we were sort of neighbours off the Trail, when he had a foot injury and was camping out for an extended period at the Bennington trailhead and later in Brattleboro, and I was working an overnight elderly caretaker gig in between those two towns. He joked that he was camping at his stream – City Stream. While he was at Brattleboro we went in to town a couple times, and it felt so strange for both of us to be in a town that wasn’t even a Trail town. That’s also when he came along to the Hiker Thanksgiving that Patriot, an older 2013 nobo, put together.
    Since I started working on the Trail a few years ago City had been a strong supporter of my work. I do cartography and surveying work, geospatial information systems, trying to walk in straight lines following old surveys through the Appalachian Mountains, and I think City the only hiker I talked to about my work who really understood without me having to elaborate just how tough this work is, and knew and appreciated what I was doing for the Trail. He encouraged me to get involved with Riff Raff, telling me they had folks that could get me in and out of some of the sketchier back hollers in rural Appalachia without getting shot.
    We had a falling out when he was having a harder time with his demons in September 2018, when he called me and started arguing with me about a misunderstanding that I couldn’t put right while he was in such an inebriated state. I didn’t hear his voice again until February of this year, when a hiker had left things inside the Boiling Springs office to charge overnight, and I heard his voice from around the corner before I saw him. We stepped outside and chatted for a while, and he told me he was sorry for our last conversation and that he was healthier than he had been in the fall – he hadn’t smoked in a while, and was drinking less. The last I heard from him after that was on June 7th, one of my semi-occasional texts to see where he was in case I could catch him in the woods. I checked in again in September and October, and I don’t know any words that approach the feeling I had when I learned that he wasn’t there any more to have answered those messages.
    I couldn’t go to the memorial at Four Pines and figured it would not be the environment for me, but I will not forget City Slicka and I think ever night hike out on the Appalachian Trail will be my own memorial to him.

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    • The photos you took of City are phenomenal and I was especially impressed by the one with the reflection and only a little curious about how you pulled it off ;) Nice! I’ve heard about other fallings-out with City in 2018, and know there was a while there when he was hitting the bottle harder than usual. I’d also heard that he reigned in his drinking and was doing better during the winter 2018/2019. I’m glad you got the chance to reconcile.

      City was always respectful of me and my boundaries, which I appreciated. Driving solo from Massachusetts down to Virginia for the wake was a real leap of faith for me, since I’d never hung out with City’s crew before and I’m not a big party person. When Shady (AT ’13) died in 2014, they had a memorial for him down in Virginia that I missed because it was a long drive and not my scene. Later, I wish I’d gone. So #learning, I decided go this time. I’m glad I did. It was nice to be around other people that knew City (I don’t know anyone nearby that does), and when being around people got to be too much for me, the AT was right there and could take off for a walk on the AT in the cold, November rain. Alone on the AT in the rain felt like just as fitting a memorial for City. He’s probably the only other person I know that was happy to be out hiking on the AT on a freezing cold, rainy, foggy, cloudy November day. We all grieve differently, but I’ve been wondering whether we could pull of a bigger Memorial for City Slicka sometime this spring/summer… if we picked a date (his birthday weekend) and we all hike a stretch of trail/AT nearby to honor of his memory? I’m going to end up picking up my pack and heading out to the AT to do a Memorial hike for him on that weekend regardless. Maybe I’ll find other folks out there that do the same. He had such a big impact on the trail, that something big like that, that gets us all out on the trail at the same time, honoring his memory our own ways (solo or in groups), distributed up and down the entire length of the trail that he loved so much… I’d love to see that happen.

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      • I know at least Nickelodeon and Roosta from 2013 have also been talking about some kind of memorial hike. A night hike, perhaps during a full moon, could be great for this. I was night hiking (aka I worked until sunset and then walked back to the work truck) west of Palmerton not too long after I learned that City was no longer with us. Being up there in the dark on an exposed ridge and in a howling north wind felt like an appropriate place to honor him in my thoughts, though I still don’t feel closure or like he will be far back in my memory as long as I’m still out in these woods. I’d be happy to try and keep in the loop if more folks were planning a memorial, whether a bunch of folks are honoring him scattered about or together on that date. (Currently writing from Woods Hole Hostel, as I’ve been working on Pearis Mtn and Sugar Run Mtn this week.)

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    • My heart truly aches learning of this news. City Slicka was one of the few that truly left an impression on me in 2015 when I met him in Georgia I wasnt really sure how to take him, in the coming weeks ahead I got to know City and he taught me a great deal about backpacking. There are lots of BSers out on the trail that would spin a story but City was always 100 I don’t know maybe he saw through the mask I wore out there in the beginning of my hike. City Slicka was there for me, and a complete stranger then. The greatest lesson he taught me was to appreciate the moment in the moment. Patrick is a true legend in my book and will be missed dearly by the entire community

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  8. Reblogged this on Shepherd on the Trail and commented:
    I’ve been wanting to put together some words about City Slicka since I learned last month of his passing. Here is a fitting tribute to City by another hiker, Patches, for anybody who might be watching my site, and either knew City or would like to learn about and honor in memory one of the best folks I’ve known from the Trail.

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  9. I’m going to double-dip, here: I never know City, but I can’t get him off of my mind. Maybe it’s because he looks so familiar; maybe it’s because I’m a recovering alcoholic (32 years); or maybe it’s because I’m just saddened by the community’s loss.

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  10. Patches — thank you, thank you, thank you for writing this incredible, honest, heartfelt, funny, and brutally sad tribute to City. My hike certainly wouldn’t have been the same without him and I’m forever thankful to have shared many miles with him.

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  11. Thank you so much for this. Pat is a lifelong friend from South Boston. We grew up together and had so many fun memories. We actually called him “The Goat” in our group. His voice was a little scraggly back then and he sounded like a Billy goat. I last spoke to Pat around the same time he was quitting Facebook I told him I would meet him anywhere on the trail when he was up this way and buy him a bottle and a steak. He laughed and said I knew the way to his heart. I’m so saddened by this news, but not for him, he did it his way. I would love to connect to help fill in some gaps for you and I’ll dig up some pics if you want.
    TommyD aka Tommy Fallon “Cog” Delaney

    Like

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