At the Beginning
Springer Mtn., Georgia
March 23, 1997
Day 29: April 21, 1997
Camping at Hogback Ridge Shelter
Finally got the day I knew was coming. Rained overnight,
let up long enough to get out of camp, but poured on and off while
we were hiking. Finally got to the shelter... completely packed
with candy asses who'd hiked 8 miles and called it a day at noon.
They weren't ready to share the shelter, so Goog, Lipton, Breeze
and I are tenting. Today didn't seem as bad once I dried off. May
shoot for about 20 miles tomorrow.
Day 30: April 22, 1997
Nobuisness Knob Shelter
20+ miles. Wow! It was kinda rough. Nice to get to
the shelter and find room and eat... a lot. Oh... forgot to write
about the yellow jacket that stung me on the butt a while back.
I was sitting beside a tree... apparently on top of him. Lotsa fun.
Had a mac and cheese and a freeze-dried for dinner.
Rained all night, but was fairly dry by morning. Walking over Sam's
Gap was neat.
Day 31: April 23, 1997
Southern Motel Erwin, Tennessee
Six miles into town this morning. Got picked up by
three good ole boys with a dirt bike in the back of their pickup.
They bought us coffee at the BP. Then they started down the back
roads. We were sure (Goog, Lipton, Breeze and me) that things were
headed south. We contemplated to ourselves how we'd bail out of
the truck and whether we could take them with our poles if it came
down to it. They took us into town... actually a few blocks from
town because none of them had a drivers license and all were moderately
to appallingly drunk. Welcome home to the Mountain Empire!
Everybody's been really nice, though. Big lunch at
Pizza Hut, Dukes of Hazzard on TV and lotsa local news. The weather's
supposed to clear up in the next few days. Got enough food to get
to Hampton and maybe see Mom again in Damascus. Found out Rob Pratt
left WJHL. His wife got a residency at a Hospital in North Carolina.
14 or so miles tomorrow. Terrain's slowly getting easier.
Day 32: April 24, 1997
Cherry Gap Shelter
Good time in Erwin. Ended up walking all the way back
to the Trail. Three miles. No one would pick us up. Lipton got his
Lekis at the campground on the Nolichucky. 16 miles here... started
at 11am. Goog and Lipton tented but I went for the shelter. Big
mistake. Guy named Slyman snored like I don't know what. I woke
up at 10:30 and grabbed my groundsheet and slept outside. Good nite
Day 33: April 25, 1997
Roan High Knob Shelter
Up before 7, hiking at 8:15. Not bad. Goog was babbling
about some Daoist understanding he had this morning. Good kid, but
I seldom have a clue what he's saying. His epiphany apparently warded
off this afternoon's demons, so whatever works. Met "Bones,"
who's from Scranton and has heard the Pete Yatzik / Micah Johnson
Read for an hour or so near the bottom of Roan Mountain.
Big climb up it to the shelter. Here around 5:30. Lovely mac and
cheese and ramen dinner.
Day 34: April 26, 1997
Camping somewhere north of Elk Park, North Carolina
14 uneventful miles to 19E... after listening to Slyman
snore again. He snores like he's mad about something. Saw him the
other day with just a cigarette sticking out of his sleeping bag.
Went into Elk Park for dinner (Me, Lipton and Breeze)
and supplies. Goog went ahead yesterday trying to meet his parents
in Damascus Wednesday. At last report he was talking about being
there Tuesday. lots of 20+ mile days... and he keeps talking about
how he's going to slow down.
Anyway, I ate a bacon double cheeseburger, fries,
grilled cheese and a chocolate pie with ice cream for dinner. Almost
filled me up. I decided today that I'm probably not gonna finish
the Trail. Been here a month and I'm enjoying the people and the
towns, but the Trail itself is starting to wear on me. My goal this
summer is to have a good time doing anything but work, and I think
I'll have a better time fixing up the "Sugar Shack." I'm
gonna stay on till late May, then go to the Promax conference in
Chicago June 1st. The go work on the 'Shack for a while. At least
that's what I'm thinking right now. We'll see.
I've enjoyed meeting and talking to all the hikers
out here, but there have been very few that have a personality enough
like mine that I don't have to be someone else to get along with
them. Goog, Hidalgo, Lipton, Lars, Amish and sorta Breeze have been
easy to get along with... but I kinda have to put on that reporter
face and pretend to care when I talk to most other people. I guess
it's kinda dumb to think I'd find lots of people like me on the
Trail. People like me don't do this sorta thing.
Bottom line: I'm having fun, but I think I'm enjoying
different things from most successful thru-hikers. I look forward
to towns and even road crossings, while civilization makes others
edgy. And I don't think the parts of the Trail I'm enjoying are
enough to get someone all the way to Maine. Ya gotta love living
in the woods to do it, and that ain't the part of this that's keeping
me going. If getting to the next town is the best part for me, I
can go live in town all the time and not have that pesky living-in-the-woods
problem. Again, we'll see.
Day 35: April 27, 1997
Camping at Moreland Gap Shelter
Horrendous day. Woke up all night with an upset stomach
from yesterday's dinner. Couldn't eat breakfast, and just about
died doing just 11 miles. If I'd had a ride, I'd've quit. If I still
feel this way in Damascus, I'm getting out. Lots of people here,
but I'm going to bed.
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