Gilligan on the AT Revisited: 31-May-1993

Date May 31, 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.

5/31/93 – Mon.

I forgot to mention that Justin and Christy picked up my camp shoes at Siler’s Bald shelter and brought them to me at Tri-Corner, so I only went without them for a day and a half. Christy said that she thought it was just common courtesy, but I think it was more than that — nobody out here is ever expected to carry the load for someone else, especially due to a stupid mistake on that person’s part. I thanked them profusely and am very glad to have my shoes back.

Today was pretty miserable. I left the shelter around 10:30, and the heaven’s opened up around 11:30. It rained for several hours, and I was already in plenty of discomfort from yesterday. Bearanoid, ahead of me, had similar thoughts. As he put it, this made it two consecutive "mental" days. We stopped at Roaring Fork Shelter by 4:00 after going only 11.4 miles, but there was the prospect of 10 high school seniors at the next shelter (1.7 miles uphill), so this was a good place to stop. Just 1.4 miles to Hot Spring, hot showers, laundry, and food!

Bearanoid raised the question this morning of why is it we’re out here doing this? He said his best answer was for the adventure. That may be a bit simplistic, but is a way it’s probably true. I also added that it is an experience that has very simple daily goals and accomplishments. Every day, a person can see what ground they have covered, on foot and carrying a pack. Also, for me, it is a form of strenuous exercise that I enjoy because it is in the outdoors. I am sore, blistered, and often wet and miserable, but I am having the time of my life. Since I am living in a state of almost constant discomfort, it is much easier to experience the sensation of pleasure. It’s all about things that are taken for granted in civilization: dry clothes, quenched thirst, warmth, climate control, etc.

I’m going for Elk Park by the ninth (of June), which meant I ahve to average 16 miles a day out of Hot Springs, which should be feasible with my shaved down pack.

Right now, the dangling carrot that keeps us going is Hot Springs. After Hot Springs, it will be seeing Julie again. A key ot the A.T.: finding a good carrot to dangle.

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