Gilligan on the AT Revisited: 18-Aug-1993

Date August 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.

8/18/93 – Wed.

I didn’t sleep very well last night, which I attribute to the uneven shelter floor, mosquitoes, mice, one porcupine (gnawing on the shelter), and unidentified things going “bump” in the night. On top of that, the weather was overcast & misting until the middle of this afternoon, my feet started out wet, and I was trying to cover 22.8 miles in time to try out my outback oven while there was plenty of daylight left.

Despite all this, the day wasn’t half bad. I took a break at the edge of a place called Finerty Pond and had an experience I have not had in a couple of weeks. The pond was quite large, a couple hundred yards across, and the trail skirted around one end. A gentle breeze rippled the surface and made the lily pads bob up and down. The sun was out and there were a few rather innocuous clouds peacefully breaking up the monotony of blue. As I paused to take all of this in, I listened…and heard only the pond and the woods. No airplane overhead, no distant highway. I had not been so lucky in quite a while. Ironically, Finerty Pond is less that four trail miles from the Massachusetts Turnpike!

I did make it to the shelter in time to try out the oven, and the quiche, my first dish, was a smashing success — too bad no one else was here to see it! (Buck stayed here alone, too, last night, so I am now only a day back of her).

My right foot started aching a bit this afternoon, and I found myself waffling between hoping it was nothing serious and hoping that it was something like a stress fracture (although I don’t know exactly what that is), that would force me off the trail, but end my separation from Julie. In the end, I decided to hope that it is nothing serious, as I am now at the “I’ve come this far…” stage.

This shelter seems to be a real rodent haven. The mice are already scurrying around like mad. Last night (I think), mice chewed a hole in my waterbag bladder, so I now have to be careful how I hold it.

Massachusetts marks the beginning of porcupine territory, and they will apparently chew on anything that’s got salt on it, including backpack straps, boots, and picnic tables, so virtually all gear has to be hung out of reach.

There’s a book here called The Tao of Pooh, which is both informative & entertaining (yes, Tao as in Taoism and Pooh as in Winnie-the).

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