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'97 Trail Journal





Lonely Afternoon
Appalachian Trail, USA
Spring, 1997

Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4
Week 5 | Week 6 | Week 7


Guggenheimer (Goog)
Paul Ossman

Great guy, but sometimes way out there. Met him in Raleigh, then again at Springer. Got ahead of him till he caught up at Franklin, NC. Hiked with him more often than not for rest of the trip. Goog thinks way too much. While hiking he thinks about the Fall of Man, Chaos versus Order, Light versus Darkness, patterns of nature. Once he told me he'd been thinking of something and asked me what I thought about while hiking. I responded that I'd just been thinking about how good jelly beans are.

Goog also has no medium, content-but-not-elated emotional state. He's either talking about how beautiful and wonderful everything is, or he's having what we dubbed an "afternoon moment" where he might be found sitting on the trail lamenting how dumb a decision it was to hike the trail, how he's just running away etc. etc.

That said, Goog can be very fun to hang out with. He's got some great jokes, which he tells very excitedly, longwindedly, and incredibly descriptively. Among the punchlines:

  • Where's that bitch that needs her teeth pulled
  • He's so important the Pope is driving his limousine.
  • The third cowboy said nothing and continued stirring the fire with his penis.

Mr. Lipton
Bob Pinkham

Met him the second day (3rd?) at Hawk Mountain Shelter. He and Goog were the only real friends I made out there. All three of us were 22 when we started. Lipton goes to Union College in Schenectady and took an independent study class where he took two months to walk part of the trail, read, and write papers.

For the longest time, we weren't really trying to stay together. We just had a similar pace. Spent all but two nights with him after Hawk Mountain. He was a lot of fun to hang out with. We had similar senses of humor and cracked each other up all the time. (Slyman smoking Trip, "I am superior to you," and "Wingfoot, I'm drunk," or variations thereon... see explanations later) I don't know if it's the endorphins from all the exercise or what, but everything was funnier on the trail. One particularly amusing moment... after getting off the trail, a really hungry hiker calls Wingfoot to say "Wingfoot, you gotta help me. I'm about to eat my own ass. What can I do?" Like I said, things were funnier out there.

We hiked together a lot of the time. Normally people didn't do that, but I think we could because we both knew when to shut up and just walk. If either of us had talked all the time, it'd've been torture. He was a lot of fun... one of the few people I felt like I didn't have to try real hard to relate to.

Nick Simon

Quite a character. Also met him at Hawk Mountain. Where to begin? Here's a chronology of his life as best as I recall:

  • Graduated from Notre Dame with degree in English and Astrophysics
  • Worked for Air Force Space Command running satellites
  • Toured with the Grateful Dead selling pasta in the parking lot after shows
  • Managed a restaurant in Atlanta while writing a novel
  • Hiked the Appalachian Trail

What made this guy so funny was that you never knew what was gonna come out of his mouth next. One great story that I assume was a joke: "I used to be a porno star. I was the guy they called when they needed someone with a real small tool for everyone to laugh at." He wore these thick Buddy Holly glasses, so he couldn't see anything in the rain, so he was always looking around, real pissed off when it rained. He spent an extra day in Fontana and never caught up till Damascus. Saw him briefly in Hot Springs.

Porno Names
Lipton, Hidalgo and I were talking about when pornos take names of regular movies and make them dirty. A few days later at the Blueberry Patch, someone mentioned the movie Dr. Strangelove. Lipton and I separately remembered the name Dr. Strangepenis for the first time and almost died. One of the owners of the "Patch" who was very religious was there, so we couldn't laugh or tell anybody.

"I Am Superior"
Started by Hidalgo when he said he enjoyed passing others on the trail because it makes him feel superior. Also, Trail Mouse said he takes pride when he hears other hikers have dropped off. So anytime you're doing well, "I am superior to you."

"Too Cute for Words"
Another that may have been funnier on the trail that off. Just after the Blueberry Patch, talking to Hidalgo, he said Blind Faith and Amazing Grace were pressing wildflowers they had found. "Isn't that just too cute for words," he said.

"Smoking Tripp"
Tripp and Slyman were two middle-aged guys from West Virginia. Sly smoked all the time. One cold morning, I saw just a cigarette sticking up out of his sleeping bag. As we crossed the road at Roan Mountain, TN... at the turnoff to Banner Elk... we were waiting for a ride to Elk Park to eat dinner. We saw smoke coming from a valley below. Lipton, Breeze and I were there and Lipton said "Tripp and Slyman are trying to smoke a tree." I said "No, Slyman's actually smoking Tripp"

Lipton and I laughed periodically about that for the rest of the trail. Things were funnier out there.

Week 7