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June 7 , 1981 Sunday From Gonzo!s Appalachian Trail journal

Thank God I and the rest are alive! What a night. About one thirty we all suddenly awoke, everyone screaming and thrashing about. I still had my flashlight in my hand from when I went to bed. I had begun to sleep with it nearby just in case I needed it during the night. The light shown all over in every direction almost like a strobe light as I tried to keep Chuck from beating me to death with his air pillow. I thought there was a bear outside or something, and the some of us thought that the killer was attacking. Fortunately that was not the case. We found out after the commotion subsided that Bruce claimed some relatively large “beast” dropped on his head and terrified him. He started the screaming, but Chuck couldn’t stop. I noticed that Pat was scrambling her way under the shelter because she thought it was a rapist. I wonder what the poor critter that fell on Bruce thought when we made all that racket. It took a while, but everyone calmed down eventually, and had a good laugh. We decided that if this sort of thing happened again - say a mouse ran over your face, you would be obliged to yell “mouse on face!” or something like that so we all would know what was going on. We must have talked and laughed about it for ten minutes or more and then tried to get back to sleep. A few minutes later as I lie there waiting to fall asleep, I heard Charlie in a soft voice as he calmly said “mouse on face!” I don’t really know if it was a joke, or if it had really paraded across his head. Eventually we fell asleep.

Then about four a.m. it almost happened again! Everyone heard something running thru the woods. Someone started to scream, but Bruce yelled, “let’s not start that again!” We all calmed down and had a slight chuckle, but nothing like the laughter that followed the first incident.

The alarm went off at 7:00am, I got up and fixed oatmeal with jelly and spun honey, also a cup of hot cocoa. We only have to do about ten miles today, then twelve tomorrow to arrive in Hot Springs to get mail. We started out hiking together, but I pulled ahead as usual. I didn’t want to be ahead so I waited for the rest to catch up and I positioned myself into the group at the rear. I knew I had to stay behind someone or else I would get too far ahead.

Nice trail today, sunny most of the time until the afternoon when it clouded up. Ate lunch along Max Patch Road, eating Pop-Tarts with spun honey. A Snickers candy bar was next. Charlie never caught up even though we were there for at least 45 minutes. The trail followed a gravel road for about four miles after that. Along the way we ran into a group of southerners getting ready to party. They gave a beer to Bruce and Chuck after they hinted that they didn’t have any water. In the meantime, they told us that another person was murdered on the A.T. near where the others were killed. Said they had heard it on the news last night. The group decided we had to stick together all the time, and even thought about having guard shifts all night. The party group said they (the authorities) were trying to get the word out, and coax people not to hike until they caught the guy. We are headed toward the killer and at the same time he seems to be heading in our direction. We’re getting guns and I may have my knife sent to me.

There is a mile climb from Lemon Gap, where the road walking stops, to the shelter. The trail paralleled a nice babbling, cascading stream where we had to take water. Chuck and I walked back 1.2 mile to the stream because the spring at the shelter was supposedly stagnant. Ate some wild strawberries today! They were small, but tasted like strawberries. Not many ripe yet. Given a couple of days to a week, and wow! Strawberry City! I arrived at the shelter about 3:00 pm. Ate my seven minute wonder consisting of lasagna with a little oregano thrown in complements of Charlie’s spice supply. We played fish for a while, then went to bed. We did not hold watches yet because we thought we were far enough away from where the killer might be. The one thing disturbing everyone was that there is a road 1.2 miles south of the shelter. Chuck and Bruce tended a fire until almost midnight, then all were in bed but not necessarily asleep. I drifted in and out of sleep, and my back was killing me in the morning for the last few hours. That 3/8 inch thick ensolite pad just is not enough padding. Bruce couldn’t sleep either, but when it came time to get up at 5:30 am. I was the only one to get up and eat.

Gonzo! Appalachian Trail Journals ©1981