Gilligan on the AT Revisited: 15-May-1993

Date May 15, 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.

Tim\'s sketch of Muskrat Creek shelter

5/10/93 — Sat.

We only made a bit over ten miles today, but had little choice since there is nowhere else to stay for about five miles. We are sharing the Muskrat Creek shelter with a Dan and a guy from California who has sort of been traveling with Troll (Troll ate lunch here and then moved on).

I have yet to see a good sunset, which is a little disappointing, but I’m sure i will at some point. Anyway, I was thinking about it today and tryin gto figure out why exactly I am so fond of sunsets. Part of it is the color — to watch an orange orb slip slowly down over the horizon, distorting itself in the process as if someone were pressing a giant orange down into a thick, viscous surface. But part of it, too, is what a sunset signifies. It is the end of the day, when today turns into tonight. The next time the sun appears, today will be yesterday, a thing of the past — history. "Today" stops at the horizon. And a sunset — what a way to bid farewell to a day! Sometimes, there is not much to it, but, oh man when there is…! A beautiful sunset means something special has happened that day: fighting has stopped, a baby is born, two lovers have gazed into each other’s eyes. These things happen every day, in some shape or form, but a beautiful sunset makes one aware .


Backpacking. Let’s talk. it can be made to sound so much like a pasttime [sic], but it is really more than that. The facts: a person carries on his back everything he needs. This includes: his house (including bathroom, kitchen, and bedroom), a water treatment plant, a doctor’s office, and a grocery store (in a more literal sense than common usage). After getting up in the morning, a backpacker dismantles his entire house, and carries it for 8-10 hours. Then, he has to build his kitchen, make his bed, and cook himself dinner before he can sleep. Well, it was a different way of looking at things.

P.S. We crossed the N.C.-GA line today

One of the careers I was mulling over when I started hiking was to be a professional writer — essayist, actually. I’d tried to garner some interest among several publications in support of my doing some writing from the trail, with no luck. Clearly, this was one of the evenings when I was "trying out" some things (one of the definitions of "essay" being "try out").

Oh, well.

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