June 9, 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.
6/9/93 – Wed. (Morning)
Yesterday was eventful. Bearanoid & I got up using the Bearanoid-bladder alarm, rather than the Tim-sunrise alarm, so we were on the trail by 6:30 AM. We had lost about an hour by lunch, as Mark found a stray kitten at Hughes Gap — hungry, thirsty, scared, and affectionate as could be. Mark couldn’t bear to leave it after he fed it some beef jerky, so we headed up Roan Mtn. with a cat. He was too affectionate to carry, and he would jump off if we tried to put him on a pack (regardless if he had a rope around his neck). Finally, we put most of the stuff from teh upper half of my pack into my clothes bag and tied it on my top bar, and then put A.T. (the cat) into the pack. That worked out pretty well, and we found a birder in Carver’s Gap who said she would take it and find it a home, so everything turned out pretty well.
We used the stuffed bird that Julie gave me to “call” some crows, which confused them more than we thought it would. The whole thing was pretty funny.
Julie had not checked into the hotel in Elk Park when we got to the road, and we were facing a bit of a dilemma as to what to do, but she drove up just as Bearanoid was about to walk the 0.8 miles to the pay phone, so that turned out fine, too.
And now, I am off the trail for a few days. This will be my last entry until I return to the A.T., so I may have a fairly long entry then. This journal needs to last me until Damascus, though, so the next few entries may be abbreviated.
Let me clarify and elaborate on the “off the trail for a few days” comment. There was a Love Family reunion at Callaway Gardens in Georgia, organized around a naming ceremony for the Love Dental Clinic at Fort Benning. The building was being named after my great-grandfather, Major General Walter D. Love, who was the chief of the U.S. Army Dental Corps from 1950 to 1954 — “Papa” to me.
My maternal grandmother, Gommie, saw this as a good excuse to get her father’s descendants together, and a good number of us managed to make it. Apparently, the organizers at Fort Benning were hoping to have a family member or two in attendance at the ceremony, and they were thrilled (or acted thrilled) when there were more than twenty of us!
Julie picked me up from the A.T. and we drove to Callaway Gardens. We had dinner that night, which was the first time she met many members of my mother’s extended family. As tends to be the case, she was a hit. But, at dinner, she was simply “Tim’s girlfriend.” The next morning was the naming ceremony, and the organizers had name tags made up that indicated everyone’s relationship to Papa. Julie was the only non-family member in attendance…which presented Gommie with a little bit of a dilemma as to what to tell the organizers to put on her name tag. She…um…came up with a solution. While my name tag said something like “Great-Grandson,” Julie’s said, “Tim Wilson’s fiancé.” We were not engaged at the time. Several of my mother’s cousins told Julie and me, “We didn’t realize you were engaged!” “Um. We’re not.” Everyone got a pretty good laugh out of that. When confronted with her literary license, Gommie didn’t miss a beat: “Well…she will be soon enough!”
As it turned out, by the time I arrived in Callaway Gardens, I had decided that I wanted to propose to Julie when I finished the trail. My mother did some leg work when it came to setting me up with a jeweler in Beaumont, some old jewelry that could be used for gold, and, I think, even took the sketch I had made of an engagement ring back to the jeweler. While Julie’s “fiancé” status did not become official for another four months, Gommie’s conviction was warranted!