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July 9, 1983 Saturday (1155.1 mtg) From Gonzo!s Appalachian Trail journal

I walked down the road for just a bit before intersecting with the A.T. along the banks of the Potomac River to which it ran parallel for a short while before beginning the climb out of the river valley to the crest of South Mountain in Maryland. Near the crest was a rocky outcrop known as Weverton Cliffs which provided a good view back along the Potomac to Harpers Ferry nestled between the junction of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers. The climb was not as bad as I thought it would be based on the profile shown on the edge of the map. That is the problem with the profiles, due to each map having slightly different scales, anyone not paying attention to this may be mislead concerning the elevation change.

Five miles farther along the ridge, I encountered a huge stone gateway that marked the entrance to Gathland State Park. The park was a memorial to Civil War news correspondents. While at the park I met three other thru hikers. I had left Tom since he had been picked up by a friend for a few days of rest and relaxation. The three hikers at Gathland, Pete Kostyk, Roger Frans, and Vince Powers were all headed to Maine as I was. I did not stick around the park for long. From there I boogied on seven miles to Dahlgren campground that featured a showerhouse situated right beside the trail. I did not take a shower, although I probably needed one, but figured "what good would it do? As hot as it was getting in the afternoons I would be saturated in sweat within a few miles. I suppose I should have taken one; however, since just a few tenths of a mile down the trail I stopped in at the Old South Mountain Inn, a fancy establishment that had served past dignitaries and presidents from as far back as the revolution, many of the more recent ones had their photos on the wall as a remembrance. The sign did say "Food and Drinks for All", or was that "Food and Drinks for Al?" I had a crab sandwich, fried potato slabs, and buttered crackers. I topped it all off with red raspberry cobbler al a mode! While there, I met a man who knew where Highland, Illinois, my hometown, was located. The reason he knew was that he played the organ. He played the large organs like the ones in churches that are built by Wicks Organ Company in Highland, Illinois. The meal and service was excellent. They treated me as if they did not notice the grizzly look and smell achieved by spending almost two months on the trail. My bill came to $8.50.

Two miles farther up the trail I passed through Washington Monument State Park. This was the first monument to George Washington. I spent only enough time there to snap a picture and check the place out before continuing on. Three miles farther on I crossed over Interstate 70 on a footbridge just for hikers. I watched as the cars went speeding along, wondering where they were all going. I thought if I got a ride from one of the drivers heading west, I might be able to ride all the way back home and be dropped off five miles from my home. I thought that would not be a good idea. Life here was good, what more could I ask for? My thoughts then turned to spitting off the bridge onto unsuspecting cars…. I waved and moved on.

My camp for the night was just beyond the interstate crossing. Actually only four tenths of a mile past. Pine Knob Shelter was a bit too close to the road. It was showing signs of abuse or heavy use, whatever you want to call it. Several of the floorboards were missing. Enough to make room for one more person if the boards were there. I was surprised to find that Pete, Roger, and Vince were not there, but Greg Gilbert and about three others were. Two of the three others decided to move on, but John, a 33 year old Vietnam veteran, stayed behind waiting for his friend Zack, who had taken a run to the store nearby. John was a bizarre guy in my opinion; however, he did have some interesting and useful points. He was the first one that I had met that grew his own sprouts while he hiked. He carried his own alfalfa seeds and grew them inside a small water bottle. Fresh greens are always tasty on the trail. I inquired about how I could become a seed grower, and he explained the process to me.

Eventually Zack returned from his hitch to town to get the "essentials" which consisted of cigarettes and liquor. He also brought some food items for John and himself. While transferring his macaroni into a ziplock storage bag, the seal at the bottom gave way and the dried pasta bounced all over the shelter! I did not eat dinner since I had such a good and filling meal at the Old South Mountain Inn earlier, and I also needed to conserve food during this stretch anyway. I probably could have rounded up the stray pasta and had enough for supper. John and Zak went up the trail a short distance and partied with some other folks most of the night with "the essentials" that they had purchased.

Back in Illinois, my Mother had gone to the post office and sent away a package to Duncannon as she had promised. (see postal receipt) (cost $4.13).

Gonzo! Appalachian Trail Journals ©1983

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