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July 8, 1981 Wednesday From Gonzo!s Appalachian Trail journal

Had a fairly terrible night’s sleep last night because the ground was very hard, and a few people pulled into the lot with their cars at about 10:48 pm.

I ate a big breakfast. Have been pigging out to get rid of weight since I am leaving the trail soon. (Apparently the decision had been made before I actually arrived at Catawba) Had a quart of orange juice, oatmeal, Pop-Tarts and granola bars. I began the ascent of North Mountain after leaving the Catawba Grocery, and once reaching the crest, was on it for about 8-9 miles. I stopped for lunch just before descending. This morning, I saw two or three deer. Descended and crossed a small creek, and then Catawba Creek, which was inviting me in for a swim. The later part of the morning had become intensely hot, so I sat in the cool rapids for a while. The day seemed to have started out cool, but had changed. Not really, but it was probably almost as hot as it got yesterday, which was terrible. While there, I had cheese and crackers, and peanut butter.

After cooling off in the creek, I began the ascent of Tinker Mountain. Along the trail I walked through a herd of cows with long curving horns. As far as I was concerned, I was following white blazes, but then they started being puke yellow. I didn’t know whether I was really on the trail or not. The route was ascending steeply and I didn’t want to go up something like that and end up finding out I was not on the trail. I continued anyway since every now and then I saw a white blaze thrown in. They gave me a little relief, but I was still apprehensive. Up – up and hot -hot - hot up what was called “Scorched Earth Gap”. It sure was scorching heat today! Finally reached the crest and a signpost! There were signs pointing all over. One to Tinker Cliffs, that is supposed to be a very worthwhile side trip I had read about in the guidebook. I passed it up because I was exhausted from the trip up the hill! Only .9 mile to the shelter from there. Made it there (all downhill!) and went to the stream and saw a deer. I waited for Bob. Once he arrived, we decided to sit around for a while before pushing on another five miles to Hay Rock where we would camp out. That would leave only five miles into town tomorrow.

We pushed on – kind of slowly toward the end since Bob’s hip belt was giving him a terrific rash. Finally made it to Hay Rock. The climb to the top was worthwhile and had excellent views of a reservoir and surrounding mountains. Took panoramic pictures and sunset pictures, and later saw the lights of what we presumed to be Roanoke. Very pretty. Hay Rock had a nice overhang forming an intimate campsite for us. I put up my tent so I could lay out of my bag without worrying about bugs – I discovered today that I already have a trillion bites all over my arms already, presumably from last night on the porch. (I also thought maybe they were fleebites since there were many dogs around the house)

I ate Tuna and cheese on top of the rock for supper while we listened to good tunes on 99 FM “the Q” from Roanoke on Bob’s radio. In a lot of ways better than K-SHE.

Gonzo! Appalachian Trail Journals ©1981