11 , 1983 Thursday (554.3 mtg) From
Gonzo!s Appalachian Trail journal
this morning knowing that I would be facing wet conditions on the
trail at some point today. I could feel it in the air. It was a little
warmer this morning, probably about 50 degrees Fahrenheit. I began
hiking at about six, and didn't really stop much at all. The terrain
was easy going with not much change in elevation. At one time I believe
the Appalachian Trail had gone over the summit of Stratton Mountain,
which would have put a nice uphill climb in the routine, but this
year the trail did not go to the summit unless I chose to take the
blue-blazed Stratton Mountain Trail. I chose not to take the alternate
route, the skies were not going to allow for any views today, plus
the rain had begun to fall. Instead, I continued on the A.T., but
did stop for a short break at Stratton Pond to visit with the caretaker
of Stratton View Shelter. I spent only seconds there, enough to get
a drink of water and say a few works to Jeff, the caretaker. (Note:
2008 - I got an email from Jeff Brooks-Manas, who had happened to
find my journal online and read it. We reminisced about some of the
people we both had met. The internet is an amazing thing.) There
was no view of Stratton Mountain from the lake as I had suspected
so I boogied on. By that time the rain began to fall harder and the
wind began to pick up. Three or four miles quickly passed as my pace
had quickened in response to the inclement weather. I began looking
for Douglas Shelter, where I hoped that I would be able to get out
of the rain and get warmed up. The weather was the worst I had experienced
on my journey so far. The problem was that the temperature had dropped,
the rain was cold rather than warm, and the cool temperature and
wind combination were the recipe for hypothermia. I had to keep
on the move. I also had no other clothes to keep me warm besides my
I somehow missed the side trail to Douglas Shelter, so I kept going
even though I had begun to develop a shiver from the cold rain and
windy conditions. Rather than go back to find the shelter, I continued
on thinking that maybe I had not even reached it yet. Eventually I
knew that I had missed it, but by then there was no sense in turning
back, so I continued on down the mountain. I then began to ascend
gradually once again to Vermont 11 and 30, where I could hitch a ride
into Manchester Center. The ride into town would be almost six miles.
The nearest shelter was only seven tenths of a mile up the trail.
I chose to go to the shelter.
I arrived at Bromley Camp at 12:36 in the afternoon with 21.6 miles
already under my belt for the day. I had taken no breaks with the
exception of the few seconds at Stratton Pond. That's one mile every
twenty minutes! I sure could cover ground if I really wanted to. I
was in luck, the shelter was still there. The shelter had been slated
for dismantling since its' location too close to the road had proven
detrimental to the area due to over-use. This place was totally enclosed
and had a wood-burning stove. Just what I needed as I got myself out
of the elements and tried to warm up. I had no long pants to put on.
I had sent them and my rain pants home some time back when it was
warm. I put on all my layers of clothing: t-shirt and wool sweater,
and shorts. Just the fact that I was inside, dry, and sheltered from
the wind warmed me up somewhat.
A while later four guys came in carrying two cases of beer (now you
know why they wanted to tear the place down). They were Tom
("Bombadil" Butler), Ed (Powers?), Bruce
(Mountain Man) (Becker?), and Matthew ("Zuzuka")(Ramsey?).
I had met most of them a few days back at Bond Shelter. It was nice
to have some company, but why had they not bought me any rootbeer?
They had just returned from a trip to Manchester Center to get "supplies."
They should have known I would be there waiting for them with a craving
for the "root".
Later, a guy named Malcomb Weeks came up from the road to see if "The
Awesome Robots" had arrived. Apparently they were scheduled to
arrive here also, but so far we had not seen them. He was traveling
by car, so we selected Ed to go into town with Malcom to get Pizza
for the evening festivities, and some Peanut Butter and Jelly as supplies
for me. Everything worked out great. I got my supplies, we all ate
pizza, and began to transform the dreary, nasty afternoon into a rollicking
fun time with the help of the food, beer, and a simple game called
Pigmainia brought the idea of a dice game to a new level. The "dice"
were actually a pair of small plastic pigs no larger than one inch
long that were rolled like dice and depending on how they landed,
were assessed various point values. They could land on their sides,
on their feet, balancing on snoots and front feet, etc. The highest
value was if one landed standing on top of the other, this was known
as "makin' bacon" and practically ensured your win of the
game. I played like a professional, and blew everyone away. Luck continued
coming my way as we played long into the night with light supplied
by candlepower, while beer fueled the party.
Appalachian Trail Journals ©1983