Gilligan on the AT Revisited: 18-Jun-1993

Date June 18, 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.

6/18/93 – Fri. (Evening)

We left Damascus right at 1:00 this afternoon with full bellies thanks to the Dairy King in town. We got to Saunders Shelter at about 5:00 and it started raining around 6:30. We’d already gotten water and scared up a couple of wild turkeys by then, so we just sat in the shelter, made dinner, and listened to the rain falling on the tin roof. The shower is over now, and no one else has arrived, so it looks like a spacious evening.

My pack is at last starting to show signs of wear; as I lifted it to put it on and fit it with [th]insulite hip pads stolen from Ron’s pad, one of the vertical bracer bars slid out and hit the floor. Upon closer examination, I discovered that thte bottom piece of the bar had sheared off and dropped out sometime previously — I have no idea when. I patched the thing back up with a little duct tape, and I don’t think it is critical, but I hope I can get it more adequately repaired.

Julie’s gymnastics picture slipped out of my journal as I started to write, and I propped it up against the wall in front of me while I write. I have invented my own personal backpacker’s desk. It fits conveniently on the floor of any shelter and has the essentials: a reading/writing light (candle lantern), a notepad (journal), bookshelves (tonight, the Tao Te Ching), and the personal bit of decoration (Julie’s picture). Life on the trail is so simplified!

A quick list of people I still need to write and thank for graduation money: Gran Fran, Steve & Mary Lou, & Grandma (???).

I made a list in the shelter register of friends I had made on the trail who got off in Damascus. First, of course, was Bearanoid, whose company I have already begun to miss. I think his is (so far) the friendship I have made that is most likely to continue after the trail. Our backgrounds and current lives are totally different, which makes me think we could both benefit from and enjoy occasional contact. Next, is Justin & Entropy. I have not seen them since Hot Springs and did not see any of their entries in shelter registers from Elk Park to Damascus, which leads me to believe that Entropy’s maildrop never arrived and/or they succumbed to a major gravity surge at “Elmer’s” in Hot Springs and spent the rest of their trail time eating vegetarian meals and mowing his yard. Entropy had composed a short little poem which I meant to get written down but never did. I also never got their addresses, although i could probably go through the MIT Alumni Association and find Entropy’s brother and find Entropy from there. Will I?… Finally, Andy and Bones left the trail. They turned out to be better guys than I originally thought, but I don’t think I would have wanted to spend many more nights in shelters with them. Bones does work for an outdoor equipment store, and he gave me a card and set [sic] to call him collect if there was anything he could help me with while I was on the trail, so that was pretty nice.

And now I’ve had a though and will make a feeble attept to once again wax poetic:

A Path

Up a hill, down a hill
I follow the trail of life.
‘Tis a path trodden by many,
Though none tread the same as I.

The pace, my own.
The stops, I pick.
The destination is mine alone

I walk alone,
Though sometimes with others.
But in the end,
I walk alone.

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