Gilligan on the AT Revisited: 11-May-1993

Date May 11, 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.

5/11/93 — Tue.

We did not get up until 6:45 this morning (had been getting up a bit before 6:30 AM), and then we made pancakes for breakfast. those were the last pancakes we will eat on this trip. They take a long time to cook (i.e., burn a lot of fuel and get a late start), and they dirty a lot of dishes. In the end, they don’t taste much better than a granola bar.

So, we didn’t start hiking until 8:30, and then we took a break a mile later at the top of Blood Mtn. The views were too good to pass up. The shelter there was pretty neat, but we were glad we had not pushed on, as about eight high school-aged kids had spent the night there. We’d seen them last night when they’d come down through Slaughter Gap for water. Anyway, the shelter fit in on the mountaintop — a stone structure (fireplace and all) nestled in among the boulders. It would have been a great place to stay with one or two people.

We made it in one shot from there to Neel’s Gap, the Walasi-Yi Center, hot showers, laundry, and our first meal drop. We wound up mailing a heavier box back than we’d received, as my food estimate was pretty far off. I mailed a couple of pounds worth of equipment back, too.

We didn’t get back on the trail until almost 2:30, and then we only walked about 3.4 miles before we camped near Baggs Creek. Dad’s knees are a bit swollen, and he’s begun to doubt that he will make the full two weeks.

We’re camping with a guy named Dan who is working on his Masters Degree in Plant Biology at Purdue. We’ve been kind of leapfrogging with him ever since the first day, and finally wound up in the same camp. He’s a nice guy and kind of funny — he was planning to spend two months on the trail and end up somewhere in Virginia, but now he’s backed off and is planning to have his wife pick hiim up somewhere in the Great Smoky Mountains.

I am actually starting to enjoy myself more than I hurt myself. Dad and I have had some good conversations, and I even think he is still glad that he came. I do miss Julie, though, and I look forward to June 9, when i will have a month of hiking under my belt, and when I will get to see her again.

The "missing Julie" stuff will become a recurring theme, I think. It was mutual, and she came out several times to spend a few days with me — both on and off the trail.

My dad — and I’ll need to remember to confirm with him — decided to stop early only partially because his knees were giving him fits. If I’d agreed to slow down a bit, with a plan that I’d pick up the pace if I wanted to once he left, I suspect he might have stuck things out longer. Clearly, I was blind to that.

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