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July 1, 1983 Friday (1312.8 mtg) From Gonzo!s Appalachian Trail journal

Got up a little later today following a good nights sleep on the mattresses that were available for our use. Ate a nectarine for breakfast and later engulfed a salad sandwich invented by Rusty. Rusty went out of his way to make us feel welcome. He gave me a ride out to the Ranger station at the entrance to the Shenandoah National Park where I got out to begin my hike. He continued on into the park to drop Tom off a little farther down the trail. A permit is required to journey through the park, but I had already secured one last night. I was all set to go. The trail began a tenth of a mile up a hill to the right.

The trail from there until Jarman Gap, about eight miles farther down the trail proved to be rough and rocky, and hard to follow. At Beagle Gap I met two men from Roanoak who gave me two breakfast bars. I must have looked like I was in need of food, as they gave me some peanut brittle a little farther on when I met them again.

I arrived at Blackrock Hut much sooner than I had expected. I guess with the late start, and having to cover almost nineteen miles, my pace was quickened and I had not realized it. The shelter was nice, with an extra shelf, in addition to the main platform, to hold four more bodies. This evening, those spots would not be needed. The weather looked threatening and I had little to do, so I gathered some firewood before the big downpour set in. I sat around and ate cookies that I had packed and arranged all of my edible goods into one plastic bag and inserted it into my nylon foodbag. With all my goodies in the bag, I went out to the "bear pole" and shimmied up the pole to hang them from the upper hooks. Here, as in the Smokies, there are bears. There are no wires in fronts to the shelters to keep the bears from your food like in the Smokies; however, the site is equipped with tall poles with a few spikes at the top as a place to store your food safely out of the bear's reach. If a park ranger catches you not hanging your food, you may get a fine.

I started a fire just before darkness arrived. I had expected another hiker to stay at the shelter tonight, but that was not to happen, the night would be spent solo for the first time on the trip. I had traveled about 825 miles and been on the trail for 48 days, and this was the first time I would be alone at night. I think that is why I started the fire. It provided a little security and light to keep me company until I fell asleep. Saw another wild turkey today, this one was on Bear Den Mountain.

Even though in just a few days I would be seeing my folks, my Mom went to the post office this morning back in Illinois to send off a care package to Harpers Ferry. The contents were not needed until then, and if she would have given it to me when we met in a few days, I would have to carry a bunch of stuff I did not need at that time. (see postal receipt)

Gonzo! Appalachian Trail Journals ©1983

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