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May 24, 1981 Sunday From Gonzo!s Appalachian Trail journal

This morning I had another breakfast consisting of oatmeal & honey with dried apples. Bob Barker and Ed left early and Bruce (G) and Mike Block left afterwards heading for Deep Gap. They decided they would implement my suggestion to detour part of the trail from the fire road at Deep Gap to Interstate 64. This route skipped 22 miles of trail. I think that I found this route when I noticed that we would be hiking south instead of north, and thought how stupid is that, we should be headed north toward Katahdin. Thought I would wait all day for Bill, but when a runner came by and said he hadn’t seen Bill, I decided to go on to Deep Gap and take the detour myself and make it to Wesser a little quicker maybe. I never saw Bill again.

To my surprise, Mike & Gurnstein were still at Deep Gap when I arrived, and had secured a ride from a couple with a Toyota. I wondered if I might convince the couple to give me a ride also. But before the couple came back, another couple came down the mountain who owned a nearby truck. We asked where they were going and they told us Gatlinburg. We asked if that was on the way to Wallace Gap on I-64 and they said yes. When we asked if we could hitch a ride, he said yes so we climbed in. Hated to leave Bill, but I didn’t know where he was, or what he was doing.

I’m now at Siler Bald lean to – a terrible shelter. Some floor boards are missing as well as some on the back and sides, and the roof probably leaks. This did not hinder us from having a good time there. Bruce and Mike were a riot as they joked about just about everything. Had mac & cheese, and grits from a guy and his father who also gave us a little sugar.

We now plan to bounce up the trail, skipping a little here and there and enjoying ourselves. Tomorrow we are going to try to get to Nantahala Lake and go for a swim and then on to Wesser. (Lesson 2: if you are out to hike the Appalachian Trail, then hike the trail, don’t look for shortcuts. With less than ten days on the Appalachian Trail, I had successfully managed to make sure that I could not officially call myself an end to ender even if I did make it to the end in Maine. Earlier in the trip I had hinted at the fact that life was hard on the trail and thought of going home because it was easier. Now it appeared as though having blister problems might have begun to enter into the decision to do some yellowblazing (following the road) since it did not involve aggravating my blisters with actually hiking. Notice how the decisions come about quickly, sometimes within a matter of minutes. Had Mike and Bruce gotten a ride before I arrived at Deep Gap, or had hiked on and not been so enthusiastic after hearing my idea concerning the detour, I might not have skipped that 22 mile section. Remember to always take time to think before acting). I think I’ll make some pudding for us to eat.

Gonzo! Appalachian Trail Journals ©1981