Gilligan on the AT Revisited: 08-May-1993

Date May 8, 2008

This is a 5-month long series of blog posts that are the entries in my journals written on most evenings as I hiked the Appalachian Trail in 1993. The journal entry appears first — indented — and then any additional commentary from my 15-years-removed perspective follows.

5/8/93 — SAT.

Day One. We started at Amicalola State Park at about 9:15 this morning. The approach trail to the beginning of the A.T. was 7-1/2 miles of a lot of up and down. We reached Springer Mtn. shortly before 3:00 PM, and, thus, officially started our hike at three o’clock in the afternoon.

I developed hot spots on both heels and on top of both feet just in front of the ankles. I put moleskin on the, and hopefully I caught them early enough to prevent blistering. I also put some adhesive knit on my hips, as the hip belt was rubbing them sore. I should be fine as long as I watch of the spots. Dad had no problems of that sort, although he was huffing and puffing a lot on the uphill sections (okay, so was I).

Originally, we had planned on staying at the Springer Mtn. campsite, but we decided to go ahead and hike 2.5 miles downhill to the Stover Creek Shelter. Well, we got there by 4:30, so we mushed on again, stopping to “camp” twice, and then deciding we should go just a little farther. The spot we did finally stop at is ideal — it’s flat ground covered with a thin layer of pine needles, and Long Creek bubbles happily by a mere ten feed from our tent.

We covered about 11.6 miles today, and are pleased. Maybe we will make Fontana Dam by next Friday after all!

As this is the first time I’ve actually re-read the journal since I wrote it, I’m surprised that I developed multiple hot spots on my feet and my hips were already bothering me on the first day! My optimism about my feet seems awfully misplaced…although it turns out accurate (I suspect my father was the one pushing hard for me to treat the hot spots early and aggressively — I wonder if things would have gone much differently if he had not started out the trail with me!). My hips, as it turned out, were a nagging issue during the entire hike — actually leading to the one time I sought professional treatment on the entire hike. But that comes much, much later.

I not surprised to read my “mush on” comments from Day One. I knew at the time that I was starting a bit late in the season. And, I was a sufficiently young whippersnapper that I placed a lot more importance on “finishing” than I did on “the journey.” I can’t say that I would be completely different if I hiked again today. But, I did have a goal to finish the hike, and to do so without “flip-flopping” (leaving the trail mid-trip and heading to Maine and hiking south back to the point where I’d left). I’m just a bit more goal-driven than I’d like to be, but that wiring isn’t going to get changed.

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