July 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.
7/3/93 – Sat.
With luck, this will be a long entry. There are a lot of things I want to get written.
We made it to the Best Western at U.S. 220 about 2:30 yesterday afternoon. I talked to Dad and learned of Uncle Willard’s death. I never really knew him that well, but what I did know was pretty neat. I do kind of wonder how much grief & how much relief Aunt Elsie felt. In a lot of ways it seems that she was in the same boat Gommie was in with Papa and now is in with Dee.
Julie drove down from wherever it is in Virginia her mother had moved to, so that was a pleasant surprise, although it was one more “good-bye” I had to deal with this morning. It was bad, but, since her visit was unexpected, and since she was departing almost as soon as she’d arrived, the lump in my throat and knot in my stomach did not last nearly as long as they had on previous occasions.
We’re staying at Bobblet’s Gap Shelter tonight, again just Gandalf and me. I’m pushing to get to Waynesboro Friday evening, whereas Gandal had been planning on Sunday mid-morning. So, either I will be parting company with him soor, or he will get to W-Boro earlier than he had planned. I need to get there in time to get my maildrop between 9:00 AM & 11:00 AM on Saturday. Otherwise, I will have to wait until Monday, which I don’t want to do.
I passed the 1/3-of-the-trail-completed mark today, so I’ve now hiked over 715 miles. Pat myself on the back!
I was thinking today that now might be a good time to record my daily routine. It has gradually become fairly consistent over the days on the trail, although I expect that it will continue to change over time for various reasons. What I list now is “typical,” and probably fairly consistent, but each day is different, and with each difference come slight modifications in the routine:
- 0600: Wake up, get up, put on hiking clothes, take down food bag, and begin loading pack with things used the previous evening: candle lantern, journal, data pouch.
- 0615: Dig out breakfast and eat it while: packing up sleeping bag, folding up groundcloth, doctoring hips, and putting on boots.
- 0645: Brush teeth, fill up water bottles after “cameling” as much as possible, empty water bag and put it in pack
- 0700: Hit the trail
- 0900-1000: Take first break after 2-3 hours of hiking — generally planned ahead of time to occur at a nice view or at a shelter
- 1200-1330: Eat lunch — also planned (see above) and generally near a water source so I can fill up my water bottles after eating
- Afternoon: Hike. Taking breaks as needed depending on terrain, distance to shelter, etc.
- 1600-1800: Arrive at shelter. Put out groundcloth, pad, and sleeping bag to reserve space in shelter. Get and filter water. Make and eat dinner. Brush teeth. Change into flannel boxers. hang up/air out clothes, socks, sock liners, & insoles (may have been done earlier).
- 2000-ish: Write in shelter register. Make journal entry. Read or do crossword puzzles.
- 2130-2200: Blow out candle lantern and go to sleep
And the next day, it starts all over again…
Equipment note: started to lose the toe of the sole of my left boot today. It holds itself in place pretty well, but I wouldn’t want to try to make it all the way to Waynesboro that way. I tried tacking it together with the contact cement in my repair kit, but that is more for applying patches that for bonding soles. If I can find a phone in the next few days, I’ll probably have Dad mail me some Barge Cement in W-boro or maybe just try to find a cobbler there. Am I that harsh on boots?
The walking was fairly easy today, and it was obvious that I was easily going to make it to the shelter by 4:00, so I stopped occasionally along the trail to pick blueberries & blackberries, which I put into one of my water bottles. All in all, I only collected about 3/4 cups of berries, but I used them to make a pretty tasty dessert. I kept them soaking in water and shredded some dried apples to put in the mixture. Then, I cooked the concoction for a bit, mashed some of the berries, & added some raisins and cherry Kool-Aid mix. It turned out to be really good, but I used a record amount of water for cleaning.
We ran into a homeless lady at the first shelter we came to today. As Gandalf put it, she was a couple of sandwiches short of a picnic. She went on about how she’d been run out of Georgia, ahd worked for a D.A. in Huntsville, Alabama, had had an unpleasant experience this morning with a man from Cobb County, Georgia, would show us some copies of Hustler magazine that would prover her story (which one?), and had we heard anything about Larry Flint [sic] being dead? I told her that the only prominent deaths that I had heard about of late were Conway Twitty and Fred Gwynn. Apparently, she saw some connection there, as her response was, “Yes, they get them in groups like that.” Something new every day on the ol’ A.T.!
Well, I’m going to take off on another tangent that I’ve been meaning to get written down for a while. The second night Julie stayed with me in a shelter, we somehow got started on listing the “spontaneous” things we had done since we had started dating. We wound up listing some thing that were simply memorable if not all that spontaneous. It was a lot of fun, and, for posterity’s sake I wanted to record as many as I can now remember. They will be roughly in chronological order:
- Driving out to the beach late one night when I was dog-tired but done with my work for the week
- Spring break junior year: driving cross-country, stopping at Notre Dame to see R.J., riding 4-wheelers at her Dad’s farm
- Julie with mono: me sleeping on the floor of her dorm room for several nights; me driving back and forth to Greenwich while she was there
- Summer ’92: spending every weekend together in either Boston or Greenwich; me driving to Greenwich unannounced when Julie was depressed
- Camping in North Conway, NH
- Sledding and spending the night at the Fortier’s in Conway, MA
- Spending the night at the Publick House in Sturbridge, MA, for Julie’s birthday
- Mike Dumb and me and the late night rose quest that ended in Maine lobster postcars (finals — Fall Term ’91)
- Julie flying to Texas for the weekend before I left for the A.T.
- Julie driving to Wesser, N.C., to meet me for the weekend
- Julie spending two nights on the trail with me
- “Mudding” on 4-wheelers at her Dad’s farm
- Walking Shaggy’s mom’s dog on the Esplanade
I know this is only a partial list, but I certainly have enjoyed writing what I could remember.
I had also thought I might rewrite the letter to the outdoor editor for The Beaumont Enterprise that I’d drafted earlier and write a piece about trail names (mentioned in an earlier entry), but I am about written out for the evening.
I mentioned this “spontaneity list” in an earlier journal entry. That entry hit on a Thursday (this year)…and Julie and I had a date night on Friday. As we’re both reviewing 1993, Julie brought up over dinner that our spontaneity rate has dropped considerably in the past 5 years. We agreed — kids’ll do that!