Gilligan on the AT Revisited: 06-Jul-1993

Date July 6, 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.

7/6/93 – Tue.

24. 2 miles today to Seeley/Woodworth Shelter.

I am alone tonight. This is only the second time on the trail so far that this has happened, and it is the first time it has happened in a shelter. I am experiencing a very subtle kind of freedom in which I do not have to be considerate of anybody else while I go about my business. I have talked to other people who have spent multiple, consecutive nights alone in shelters, and they say that, although it is nice occasionally, it gets old fast. I wonder if I will find out for myself.

I did not sleep well at all last night. I was hot, the bugs were out, and the frogs an “peepers” in the nearby pond made a racket all night. I think tonight will be different, though. I am tired.

Today was my third consecutive 20+ miler, and tomorrow I will be going for a fourth. The terrain has been pretty tough, too, so I have really had to push myself. There are obvious negatives to this. There is a minor amount of constant stress and pressure to crank out the miles, and it’s a lot harder to stop and smell the roses, if you’ll pardon the cliché. My body is feeling the wear of the long days, too. Joints and muscles rebel daily in the middle of the afternoon. For all of these reasons, I do not intend to make this the norm, but there are positive reasons for doing it, too.

First of all, I need to get to Waynesboro in time for the cobbler to get my boots fixed before the weekend. That is the real necessity, but I might be doing this anyway for other reasons.

This is the first real chance I’ve had to test my own limits — mine alone. I am in between hiking partners now, so the only person who affects how far I travel is me, and I need to know what “me” can do. Each day, every day, I set a tough goal, and when I reach it my sense of accomplishment is high.

Also, by pushing myself now I will feel better about taking a couple of days off in Harper’s Ferry — I won’t feel the same urgency to get back on the trail because it will be a deserved and needed rest. I may wind up taking a full day off in Waynesboro, too, depending on how my errands go & how much time the cobbler needs.

I thought about Dee some this morning and actually got misty-eyed. I have so many clear memories of time spent with him at the farm, and it seems so sad that soon memories will be all I have. I even have fond memories of him in the nursing home.

Well, Cloud & Scout just arrived (arrived just after dark, that is), so I am not alone. Two women, mid-twenties, from New Jersey, and very outgoing, so it looks like this entry is going to be chopped short in the interest of conversation.

Cloud and Scout cropped up off and on for a while after this. They were sisters, I thought. Kate Spann…and darned if I can remember the other (or which one was Kate). We’ll see if that comes up in later entries.

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