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'97 Trail Journal















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 once there.


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 story.

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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