Gilligan on the AT Revisited: 13-Jul-1993

Date July 13, 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.

7/13/93 – Tue.

18.5 miles today to Pass Mountain Shelter. I got here shortly after 4:00 PM, and so far Roadrunner is the only other hiker who has shown up (it’s 8:00 PM now).

Which brings me to last night. Cloud and Scout arrived at about 9:30, and we managed to circle around each other in such a way that we all hit the taproom but missed each other in doing so. They were at my campsite when I got back from the taproom and from talking to Julie, but I had wound up drinking my one beer alone. The live entertainment was a guy who played guitar and banjo — some Scottish folk songs and some more “traditional” American stuff (“You Are My Sunshine,” “Oh, Susanna,” e.g.). I didn’t stay very long, but felt I got my $2.00 worth of satisfaction from the beer and the music.

I had some thoughts about Joe Van Dyck’s possible hostel in Burke’s Garden that I’m going to jot down now as a first pass at organization for a letter to “The Skipper” himself (Joe).

I think he’d be best off touting the place as a classier-type hostel — nicer but more expensive. The reason for this is that Levi Long’s is only a day’s hike farther and, dump that it is, it’s free. The low budget hikers will go there regardless.

Services that really should be offered: laundry, showers, Coleman fuel by the pint, maildrop capability, some degree of hiker resupply.

Other things that might attract hikers, too: home cooking; use of steam shower (possible extra charge), use of bicycles to tour Burke’s Garden.

Also, touting the B&B (or the hostel) as a place to take a day off with family or friends might be good (like Fontana Village).

For that bit about being “classier,” Elmer’s in Hot Springs would be a good model.

Also, it would be good for him to buy a copy of The Thru-Hiker’s Handbook so he can get a feel for what kind of blurb he can expect in that.

Finally, he probably ought to keep it simple at first — offer services that he knows won’t be too much of a burden on him — and then add on in future years as per hiker suggestions.

I have now decided to do the 24-mile days starting tomorrow and then have Julie hike with me for three days instead of two. It seemed silly for her to drive all the way out here and then just sit around for a day before I get to see her. Once again, I will be hiking with my mind in the future rather than in the present, but when Julie is in one and not the other, I can do nothing else.

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