Gilligan on the AT Revisited: 06-Jun-1993

Date June 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.

6/6/93 – Sun.

Ah! A relaxing day — almost a rest day. The sky was cloudless all day, we took several hours off in Erwin to go to a Pizza Hut (no beer served — we were there during “Sunday Hours”), walked a mile and a half up the trail and stoped to dunk our clothes and (some of) our bodies (Buck) in a stream, and still got to Curley Maple Gap Shelter by 4:30. Total A.T. miles for the day: 9.9.

It seems that now would be a good time to make a list of some of the misspellings we have seen on signs thus far:

  • Mountain Mama’s bathroom: “Sence your mother’s no here…”
  • Govt. sign at Fontana Hilton: “Appalachian Trail…from Georgia to Main
  • Railroad track crossing: “…trains occassionally stop…”
  • A 5-line entry by day-hikers in the Curley Maple register had the following words: “stoping,” “shure,” “suspost” (supposed), “thankful”

We’ve spent some time speculating on the literacy of the average backwoods Georgian/North Carolinian and have surmised that it is not very high.

By the way, the “we” referred to earlier in this entry are Bearanoid, Buck, and I. Buck was sort of looking for someone to hike with through a couple of the “bad” sections of the trail that are coming up, so she’s probably going to stick with Bearanoid through Damascus. It has been nice and interesting to have a female hiking alone along the trail — Buck is the first that I’ve seen, and she has proven that the trail can be successfully hiked “Mom’s” way. She takes a birdbath every day, shaves her legs regularly, and periodically even washes her hair, which is a bit longer than Julie’s and which she didn’t cut before starting the trail (unlike Entropy, who gave herself a buzz and is letting her leg-hair grow). She is attractive and clean, which makes Bearanoid and me feel even more scruffy than we already did. In the Whisperlite/Peak I war, she sides with me, as she carries a Whisperlite. She also carries an awfully heavy pack, but Bearanoid has already begun his weight-reducing magic, and they are going to go through her pack in Elk Park like we went through mine in Hot Springs. She’s also carrying a North Face Tadpole tend,, and he’s just about convinced her that it should be sent home, and, after that, I think other stuff will easily follow.

What the hell, I’ll go ahead and do a little bio on Buck. She’s from North Carolina, she’s been working kind of an array of jobs for teh last two years, first in Tennessee (boyfriend was there) and then in Florida. She’s never hiked before (hasn’t camped since elementary school) and is searching for some sort of direction in life out here. She says she wants a job that pays well and offers a lot of freedom (not sure what “freedom” is in her mind, though, I think). She played soccer, volleyball, and basketball and blew out one of her knees, so she has a couple of scars, albeit smaller than Julie’s. She has gone skydiving once, but probably won’t ever again. She’s doing a bit of a religious exploration out here, too — raised a Methodist. She is fairly liberal, voted for Perot, and does not believe in living together before marriage. She has added a fresh perspective to our discussions, and the next couple of days might spark some new insights into life.

We also have a guy named Jack for company tonight. He’s kind of a scary looking guy — long bear, scrawny, long hair, late 30’s — but he is pretty harmless. We unofficially dubbed him “The Mushroom Man” way back at Cold Springs Shelter (he periodically cooks  some “Hen of the Woods” mushroom with his meal) and have run into him a couple of times since. We think he might have Turret (sp?) Syndrome, and he tends to just start talking and not stop, which gets a bit irritating. Bearanoid has observed that the key is to tun him out and just throw out an occasional “Um-hmm,” which he has mastered. I’ve heard him once before go on for some length about the theory of relativity  and how it pertains to hiking the A.T., and tonight he has covered the topics of: defining good fiction, movies, and how guitar/drum solos are important/misused in contemporary rock music — all of this done while he tried to fix his Walkman. Anyway, suffice it to say that Jack is not easy to describe. This is Buck’s first exposure to Jack, but she says we had done him justice in our description. Oh, yeah, he has hiked most of the trail multiple times in past summers — his parents send his maildrops.

Oh, if only Julie were here! Today was just that one step away from being perfect, once again. It looks like we’ll make Elk Park by Tuesday evening, and it’s a good thing we had an easy day today, because I easily could have pushed myself too hard in an effort to get there ASAP. [sappy Julie thoughts…]

I’m not sure what was wrong with “thankful” in the misspellings list. I’m thinking that the register actually said “thankfull”…and I then wrote it in my journal incorrectly…or correctly, as the case may be.

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