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June 17 , 1981 Wednesday From Gonzo!s Appalachian Trail journal

Rained a little in the early morning before we woke up. I was awake at 5:30 am, and as usual, no one but me managed to get up. It was still foggy and dark at that time. Waited ‘till 6:40 to leave; when it was light enough. I arrived at Iron Mountain Gap in about an hour. but kept going and ran into a group of four campers eating breakfast in the middle of the trail. They offered me an English muffin with peanut butter, raisins, and honey. I accepted of course. MMM pretty good. I needed that. Met three other hikers (from VA) just at the turn off to Clyde Smith Shelter. Always curious to see the shelters, I checked it out, read the register, and had some gorp before moving on to eat lunch at Hugh’s Gap. This would leave a climb to Roan Mt. for the afternoon.

I arrived at Hugh’s Gap at about 11:05, and ate Summer sausage, PB, Pop-Tarts, and later a Snickers. Stocked up on water from down the road about 200 steps. I took off my boots, socks, and shirt to allow them to air out a bit, and had a nice pleasant break before: Dick-in-the-face! - A great uphill climb. Well, it is only about 3 miles till camp from Hugh’s Gap, and all afternoon to do it in. Bruce came up with the term “Dick in the Face” to refer to any steep climb, I guess with the idea that it was “straight up” and long. Would have had spectacular views just up (south) of Hugh’s Gap, but the sky was too cloudy or foggy. It looked like shear drop offs, but with the fog we could not tell how far down it really was.

Concluding my long lunch break, I started off again about 12:45pm, after almost two hours of not hiking. Made it to the top of Beartown Mt. the first section of uphill. What a climb! Then a gap and then another GOOD climb. Finally made it to the top where there was a parking lot, water fountain and a few campsites. I believe the place was called “Cloudland”. Apparently one could drive a vehicle up to the top of the mountain. I snapped off a few pictures, and then thought I might look hot enough for someone in their RV to give me a coke or something. No such luck. Later, a man named Fred Lester, from VA gave me the Roan Knob shelter register he had picked up and accidentally carried away. I talked with him for a while and he said the murderer had been identified and the chase was on. (It had only taken a week to get information about the murderer that was actually true.) A buddy of his gave me two nice, fresh, cold bananas that tasted terrific! How nice. Walked on down to Roan Knob shelter to return the register, left my stuff there and went back to Cloudland to see if the rest of the group had arrived. They had not; however, Bill and Jean just showed up and said they hadn’t seen them. I don’t know what happened to them. It’s seven o’clock now and they still haven’t arrived. Had rice with cream of chicken soup (instant) good, but not too filling; ate 2 Pop -Tarts and the rest of one of my strawberry fruit leathers left from lunch. I convinced Bill and Jean to stay the night. Now I don’t have to be here by myself. It’s about 12 miles to the road which leads into Elk Park. I think I’ll walk with them tomorrow. They are very nice.

Gonzo! Appalachian Trail Journals ©1981