Gilligan on the AT Revisited: 07-Jun-1993

Date June 7, 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.

6/7/93 – Mon.

Today was long, and tomorrow will probably be longer, but at the end of tomorrow is Julie, and I can think of no more effective way to spur me on.

We started off today hiking together, and we got into a highly political discussion, which got fairly heated. I surprised myself and had some really good argument in favor of affirmative action. Buck was backing me up, so Bearanoid was outnumbered. We concluded that we were a good example of what happens in American society: the two sides argue forever and neither side is swayed in the least. Bearanoid says that after a few years in the real world, we will see thing his way. Time will tell.

Later in the day we got into a big discussion about illicit drugs, of which Bearanoid has done many (not really since he was in the army, though). That was pretty enlightening.

Bearanoid and I seem to have developed kind of a big brother attitude towards Kelly (Buck). We cannot help but admire her willpower and stamina, but we also worry about her — her feet look like shit, but she keeps plodding on. The whole gender roles “thing” has suddenly brought itself to the A.T. How much concern can I show without being sexist? How can I be impressed that a young, attractive female has the guts to come out here and hike alone without implying that long-distance hiking is a man’s pasttime? These thoughts are almost constantly with us. We did not hang back and walk with Buck after lunch because it would have bothered her, yet we were more than ready to head back up the trail from the shelter with flashlights in hand should darkness begin to fall. I do wish I knew Buck’s thoughts on the whole thing (she writes in her journal more than I do), but I do not really know her well enough to go into it, and she is pretty laid-back about the whole situation. I can’t help thinking that if I were in her shoes I would resent some of Mark’s and my behavior, but she does not seem to at all. At the same time, she certainly does not expect us to cut her any slack. Also, she is not trying to just fit in as “one of the guys.” Like I wrote last night, she has remained very feminine when it comes to hygiene and appearance. She even takes a long time to pack up in the morning! I guess she may just remain a mystery. I cannot help but think that many guys out here are going to (or have) flirt with her and “hit on” her, and wonder if that is one reason she is hiking with Bearanoid and me — she knows there will be no romantic intentions. I keep having When Harry Met Sally run though my head and wonder how the points in that movie apply here. Maybe I’ll get more insights farther down the trail, but right now I am fairly confused.

By the way, we are staying at Clyde Smith Shelter tonight.

Another consensus we came to today, was that people would like the world to be an ideal place, and most people agree on what “ideal” is. However, it is not, and political disagreements occur when people disagree on which side of “ideal” the chips should fall. Maybe I’ll elaborate some other time.

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