Gilligan on the AT Revisited: 24-May-1993

Date May 24, 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.

5/24/93 – Mon.

First time to miss any days of entries here. As an excuse I can only point to the Doug Stone song, “I Was Too Busy Being in Love.” Julie did meet me in Wesser, and we had a wonderful two days together. Words really cannot express what a wonderful feeling it is to wake up with her nestled up against me. We were both fairly emotional once we were alone together, and I honestly felt that I never wanted to end the embrace. I would be lost without her (pardon the cliche), and returning to the trail was an awfully bittersweet thing. We drove up to Fontana Dam to stash a 6-pack of beer for Bearanoid at the shelter. He had continued on at Wesser, rather than taking a break. I guess I will soon find out whether or not the beer made it undisturbed until he got there.

I got back on the trail at about 8:45 this morning. Shawn, a guy I had met in Wesser, said that Troll and Bushwack had left about a half-hour earlier. I spent most of the day expecting to catch up with them, only to realize that I had been misinformed and they were behind me. That, combined with a pretty dry stretch of the trail, left me covering 16 miles today! That included the ascent of Cheoah Bald and some other rather nasty uphills. So, I am using the candle lantern for the first time to make this entry, and I plan to read some of E.B. White’s One Man’s Meat, which Julie bought for me.

I saw a small snake today that (I think) might have been a very young rattler. I also saw a couple of wild turkeys, so perhaps my wildlife-sighting luck is about to change.

I’m camped tonight about 2.5-3.0 miles beyond Stecoah Gap with a couple of guys from Kentucky (Ron and John) and a guy named Dave who had stayed with us at Tray Mountain shelter. Ron is about to enter divinity school (I don’t think he has entered yet), and John is an upholsterer. John’s father went to M.I.T. and helped Henri Heimlich develop the Heimlich Maneuver. John is kind of quiet, but Ron is talkative and funny. They are carrying a lot of stuff (their packs weigh ~75 lbs.). They have an MSR Whisperlite stove like mine, and had to deal with a clogged jet last night without a wrench or a cleaning wire. I gave them my extra cleaning wire and wrench, which Dad would probably think was a reckless thing to do. But Dad is not here, the cleaning tool has two different wires (so if one breaks there is a built-in backup), and I would pretty much have to lose my stove to lose the tools. Also, my Leatherman has a pair of pliers. I ramble.

With a little bit of luck, I will make Fontana early enough tomorrow to get into town before the post office closes and get back out before dark. If I go into town tomorrow instead of Wed., I will be able to call Julie.

I have no idea why I would not have been able to call Julie on Wednesday. All I can imagine was that she was going to be on the road somewhere and unreachable. 1993. Long before everyone had a cell phone!

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