Gilligan on the AT Revisited: 03-Jun-1993

Date June 3, 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.

6/3/93 – Thur.

Again, I have been remiss in keeping this updated, but it is easy to skip when I get out of the trail “routine.” I spent a very relaxing day and a half off — cleaning/drying gear, mailing gear home, and eating real food. I easily shaved ten pounds off my pack and felt great this morning — we covered about 20 miles by 4:00 and are staying at Little Laurel Shelter with a girl named Kelly (“Buck,” from Call of the Wild). She is from North Carolina, graduated as a Tarheel, and is thinking about going back to school to study philosophy.

Phenomenon noted today — regardless of how long the day’s hike is, the last 1 1/2 – 2 miles are torturous. It’s a psychology thing, we think. The mind subconsciously confuses “practically there” and “there.” Feed begin to hurt “more,” uphills seem steeper, and the time drags. Even tryin got compensate by pessimistically guessing the number of miles left to go fails. Because I am conscious of my pessimism and become optimistic that the shelter will appear sooner than I “think” it will. Hypnosis, maybe?

Bearanoid is going to hike with me to Elk Park, so that is something to look forward to. His allergies were bothering him a lot today (for the first time since he’s been on the trail), and he took a couple of pills and is now floating on his sleeping bag — resistant to move.

This shelter is really a dump — the floors are horrendously uneven. It should not be hard to get up in the morning.


Well, we discussed religion, politics, and gays in the military. Buck is just starting a book on Zen — she was raised a Methodist but has come to be a skeptic. Bearanoid and I had already discussed religion and we seemed to have covered nothing new tonight. I was having a bad articulation evening, so I really contributed nothing worthwhile to the discussion.

Bearanoid mentioned today that we could go for averaging 20 miles a day to Elk park. If the days go like today, that won’t be at all unreasonable, especially with our packs getting lighter.

I am frustrated this evening. I am not able to write anything worthwhile, draw anything useful, or contribute anything to a conversation.

I really miss Julie. I don’t know how many times we talked on the phone while I was in Hot Springs, but it was a lot. She seems so unhappy — bored mostly — and I am partly the cause of it. She’s trying to put her life on hold while I hike the trail, and it is making her miserable. Unfortunately, I find it hard to help her think of something to do, because I do want her to keep meeting me on the rest days. If I thought I would not see her after Ft. Benning until I got off the trail, I would have to seriously consider getting off early. I though that I would get used to her absence, but I have not…and I do not really wish to. But she is unhappy, and that makes me unhappy. And she is unhappy because of me, and that is worse. I can deal with her being upset when I am there and hold her, but it tears me up when the only thing I can do is hold the phone. That is turning out to be the hardest thing about th trail. I can take the sore feet, the aching muscles, the thirst, the heat. They are all temporary and see relief at the end of the day. But, when that relief comes, Julie is still not there.

There! Now I’ve ended on the biggest downer. Today was pleasant and enjoyable, but the the past couple of hours have seen my mood darken with the fading light. May I sleep well and awaken rejuvenated.

Okay…so Julie and I are starting to wonder if I should be editing out these final thoughts as I post. I keep thinking that those tapered off at some point due to repetition, but I may get to where I start hitting a point and inserting “[Julie related sappiness]” and leave it at that.

Buck will play into future journal entries heavily. While Bearanoid (Mark) was my closest, most consistent companion during my first month on the trail, Buck actually played the same role for the final month. I’ll provide some details as to Bearanoid once he drops out of the journal entries in a bit.

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