September 10, 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.
9/10/93 – Fri.
Continuing on the Buck-Julie thing: they can both make me feel utterly helpless when they are upset. We started climbing Mt. Madison this morning in the rain, and the strong winds combined with the slick, rocky footing to make the going pretty rough. Buck fell a couple of times, and we debated turning around and going back to the hut at the base of the mountain, but decided against it, as I though that we would be out of the wind once we got over the top. Wrong. Buck fell again pretty hard and was actually bleeding in a couple of places, so got off the trail and behind some boulders to get some shelter from the wind and decide what to do. Buck has no rain pants and limited warm-weather gear, but she donned what she did have and we ate a little food. A bit further down the A.T. was a side trail that looped back to Madison Hut — 1.0 miles around the mountain. Buck by then was dead-set on returning to the hut and she’d cried a bit, so back we went. Of course, as we got about half-way back to the hut, the sun came out, but Buck had pretty much had all she could take emotionally, so we came on back, called it a day, and scrubbed floors for 3 hours for our room and board. I have to take the blame for the whole mess, as we probably would have turned back much sooner had I not been so mile-conscious. Buck is also a somewhat weaker hiker and she has a lower tolerance for cold, despite her being one of the toughest people I have yet met on the trail. Although I am quite sure that I was not in any real danger today, I think that Buck might have been on the brink. I felt like something I would find on the heel of my boot as I stood up there with her shivering, crying, cold, wet, and miserable, and there was not a damn thing I could do to make it all better. As much as I wished Julie was with me yesterday, I was infinitely glad that she was not with me today. It would have killed me to have to be in that situation with her, and I hope that realization will serve me well in the future.
Glen is now ahead of us by a half a day and is planning on getting to Gorham on Sunday afternoon, while we are now shooting for Monday morning. If he takes Monday off, we will soon be hiking with him again.
We read an entry of the Aetherius Society in the hut register, and the hutmaster showed us their book The Twelve Blessings. Premise: Jesus taken by aliens, 19 mountains aroudn the world “charged” by aliens in the late 50’s/early 60’s — Mt. Adams is one of five in the U.S.
The experience described in this entry is one of those that is permanently imprinted in my memory — it’s easily the most unpleasant memory of the trip for me, pretty much for the reasons described in the entry. Now, while I have a vivid memory, for the life of me, I can’t imagine that I didn’t have some warm weather gear that I could have given up to make Buck more comfortable. To be clear — I remember that it was miserable weather, and that I was extremely uncomfortable as well. It would be Romantic to recall that there was a Code of the Trail whereby One Got By With One’s Own Gear or something…but that wasn’t it at all. As best as I can guess as I think about it now, I was still traveling pretty light, and my warm weather gear consisted of one pair of long underwear, rain pants, and maybe a pair of nylon pants, all of which, presumably, I was wearing at the time and which didn’t make sense to shed.
Oh, and The Aetherius Society is still alive and going strong!