Gilligan on the AT Revisited: 21-Jun-1993

Date June 21, 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.

6/21/93 – Mon.

Yesterday was Father’s Day and I didn’t even realize it until today. Sorry, Dad.

We went just over 17 miles today and are staying at Chatfield Shelter. No one else is here, so my plans to have everyone sing Happy Birthday to Ron are shot (we were alone last night, too). For his birthday, I pumped all the water, made dinner, and cleaned up, rather than dividing the tasks.

We stopped for a break after covering 10 1/2 miles today at the Mt. Rogers NRA (National Recreation Area, as opposed to National Rifle Association) H.Q. / Visitors Center. I called Mom and told her of a few minor equipment problems I am having, and then we ordered Domino’s Pizza — more because we could than because we actually craved it, I think. I have noticed that the longer I am out here, the less I crave “normal” food. Hiking into Rainbow Springs, Wesser, and Hot Springs, there was little else on my mind (excepting Julie) than how good a hamburger and/or pizza would taste. I have not had cravings anywhere near as strong coming into Elk Park or Damascus. It’s almost as though I have acted like I thought I should act rather than acting as I really felt (i.e., jumping at the opportunity to get pizza). Tomorrow we are getting up 1/2 hour earlier than usual and racing out of here so as to cover the 5 miles to I-81 (?) before Andrea leaves for work. We’re planning on eating breakfast at a Dairy Queen that just opened up there (good biscuits & gravy if they serve breakfast). Again, I find that I am more excited about getting up and covering a quick 5 miles before breakfast than I am about the breakfast itself. I guess my body is just becoming more acclimated to the trail life, and does not crave “normal” food because that food is no longer the norm in my system. It’s the same as me not always craving, say, Chinese food when I am off the trail. In other ways my body is adjusting, too. I wake up in the middle of the night only two or three times now, as opposed to the 6 or 8 times that I would wake up a month ago. My clothes/body smell is not as noxious when I get up in the morning. My legs and muscles do not stiffen and get sore after long days — sometimes I feel i could walk 40 miles were it not for the pounding my feet would then have to endure. I am comfortable and relaxed out here. Each day, as I near the shelter, I feel like I am coming home, although the home is a place I’ve never seen. I  always know what to expect there — 3 walls, a roof, a floor, a nearby water source, and, sometimes a privy and/or a picnic table. And that is all I need.

If Ron were not here, this would be my second straight night alone. As yet, I have only spent one night alone, and that was way back on Siler’s Bald. Is the trail that populated, or do I subconsciously seek the company of others?

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