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July 5, 1981 SundayFrom Gonzo!s Appalachian Trail journal

Got up at 5:45 and fixed pancakes again. I arose early because I didn’t know when Bob was coming by to pick up us hikers. So, I sat around for a while until Bob showed up. He asked if anyone wanted to go out to eat breakfast before he came back to pick all the slack-packers up. He came back in a half hour to pick us up. We started hiking, without packs, at about 9:00 am – Bob’s parents are going to take our packs to the “hostel” in Newport, Virginia and leave them for us. Supposed to hike 23.5 miles today. Everything started out smoothly as we walked off. I carried my tennis shoes, Pop-Tarts, some water, and gaiters. My right heal hurt in the beginning, but after about three miles it would hurt only now and then (probably numb from the hiking). Eventually it seemed to stop almost altogether. Seems to help if the laces for at least the top portion of my boots are all together as tight as can be. We hiked fast but took several breaks. Saw a deer, several grouse, and a flying Luna moth. Trail was very rocky and rough at times along the ridge. Trail seemed to make big hairpin turns and at times would “backtrack”. Then there was the one dastardly relocation just before Newport: up – up- up, circle around, and then down – down. Finally the covered bridge and Va 661(?) The day went on and on until at last, around 8:10 pm, we arrived at the Smith house in Newport. Weird place. Some parts clean, some smelly. There was a dog upstairs that had recently given birth, and the puppies had defecated all over the place. There was a demolished room, perhaps under construction? No one was around but the door had been left unlocked. I checked out the rest of the place and found the kitchen to be a mess with dishes needing to be washed laying haphazardly in and around the sink.

Since there was a stove, I fried 2 eggs and cooked pancakes for supper. Also ate a granola bar. It rained a little about 10pm as we all took up positions with our sleeping bags on the front porch since we were unsure of how this “hostel” was supposed to work. No one was there to welcome us or check us in. Bill’s boot split open today. He was beginning to not have a good time. I took a shower in the bathtub before going to bed for the evening.

I just remembered Joel telling me how he encountered a rattlesnake on the trail and it almost bit him without warning. He pinned it down and broke it’s rattles off, but did not kill it. Later, at the tourist trap on Walker Mountain he sold it to a guy for $25. He also told me how he walked near the Wapitis, near where the murders had taken place, and a dude in a pickup pulled up beside him, put a gun in his face, and said “say your prayers you son of a bitch”, then laughed and drove off. “ Some people in this world are really sick.

Gonzo! Appalachian Trail Journals ©1981