Gilligan on the AT Revisited: 05-Jun-1993

Date June 5, 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.

6/5/93 – Sat.

i forgot to jot down this tidbit, acquired in a hardware store back in Hot Springs: “What’s the difference between a Yankee and a Damn Yankee? A Yankee is someone who comes to the South, visits, and then goes back to the North. A Damn Yankee is someone who comes to the South and stays.” That makes Bearanoid just a plain Yankee.

We covered 18.4 miles today and are alone (it looks like for the night) at No Business Knob Shelter. We have come just under 60 miles in three days and are feeling the effect — a kind of sluggishness. Consequenty, tomorrow we are probably only going to cover about ten miles, taking a break in Erwin, TN, for pizza and to stock up on food to get us to Elk Park (mainly candy bars/snacks). Then it’s two twenty-milers to hot showers and Julie!

Well, Buck has now shown up…at eight o’clock! That gal’s got a lot of get-up-and-go! She says it really bothers her to not get as far as she had planned in a day, but she has no qualms about going six miles farther than she had planned. For all of my diligent H2O filtering, I felt a bit foolish today when I discovered mildew growing in the threads of the lids of my water bottle. I had thought that the fish smell I kep getting when I drank was from my hands due to the sardines I had for lunch — wrong! I cleaned them off really well and dumped the water into my waterbag so i could let them air overnight (I also washed my hands really well in case it was the sardines).

Still no sunset. Buck hasn’t seen one either, so apparently it is not an uncommon experience (not seeing one, that is). I’m sure I will catch one eventually.

I need to get a postcard written to a guy about boots, so this is it for the evening.

(Next morning — killing time)

I don’t think I mentioend that my watch stopped working two nights ago at 8:30 PM, which meant I hiked all day yesterday with no definite way of telling time. Strider argued (last week some time) that a watch should not be carried on the trail — do as the Indians and eat when hungry, sleep when tired, and gauge time by shadow length. Ideally, maybe, but practicall, no. Many days are cloudy, and I prefer to eat at certain times, so I don’t get hungry. I can estimate how far I have travelled by the time that I have been hiking. Especially in the afternoon, time/distance perception gets warped, and a watch serves as a reliable constant by which to gauge activity.

A little bit more background on Buck, which I don’t seem to have written down, but which I remember very clearly. It’s appropriate here because, if you’ve been following the last couple of entries, you might be thinking, “Uh…Tim…were you and Bearanoid oblivious to the fact that Buck might have had a little bit of a chip on her shoulder and wanted to prove that she wouldn’t be outhiked by a couple of guys, especially when one of them (Bearanoid) was a former Army Ranger?” In fact, I think this was a little bit of what was going on. Buck was actually hiking the trail because she had been living and working in Florida, and her boyfriend at the time decided he was going to hike the A.T. As he started talking about it, she got interested and, even though she had never backpacked before in her life, announced that she would do it with him. The boyfriend sounds like a bit of a jerk, in that he pretty much scoffed at the idea. But, he agreed that she could come with him (and a couple of his friends, I think). Well, she got sick a few weeks into the hike — really sick, as in some sort of stomache bug — and had to take a couple of weeks off. Her boyfriend apparently was not particularly sympathetic, and did not even give the idea of waiting for her to be better so that they could continue to hike together. That was pretty much the end of the relationship.

Bearanoid and I met up with Buck on her first night back on the trail. At the time, I don’t think it occurred to either Bearanoid or me that Buck was trying to prove something. And, even in hindsight, anything she was trying to prove she was trying to prove to herself. She was a pretty neat person, and I’ve always somewhat regretted that we lost touch over the years. The dogs exchanged holiday greeting cards with her parents for years (Buck and her parents actually came to our wedding), but they seem to have moved in the past few years, so even that no longer happens.

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