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June 10, 1983 Friday (1702.2 mtg) From Gonzo!s Appalachian Trail journal

Up at 5:50. Rolled down the trail with the excitement of getting to town and also putting three of the fourteen states behind us. Within 6.5 miles we will have completed all of the trail in Georgia, North Carolina, and Tennessee. Four hundred forty three miles of up and down in just under one month. Now we were preparing to enter our fourth state, a state that contains the most amount of mileage of any state along the trail. A state that has roughly one fourth of the trail within its' boundaries, and more than we had come so far. Virginia is supposed to be where hikers can really rack up big mile days. The states we had just gone through had rugged trail, but Virginia is supposed to be more mild, and have less difficult climbs. Time would tell. For today we would barely enter into Virginia, and rest for one half of a day at the trail town known as Damascus, Virginia. On the way out of Tennessee, I decided to stop one last time to water the vegetation along the trail, after all, I drank that water in Tennessee, I should give it back to Tennessee.

The trail goes right down the main street into the small town that is familiar with hikers and bikers. Many cross country cyclists stop at this town on their way across the country too. The first order of business in Damascus was to stop in at the post office to check for mail. Jim got a bundle of letters. I received three letters and a package with two Fitz's Rootbeer bottles packaged safely inside. I also received the next guide book that I had prepared for the following section. Like the town of Hot Springs, this town also has a church-run hostle where hikers can "rent" a room for just a few dollars or work their stay off by doing odd jobs around the place. The hostle in this town was known as "The Place" and was used by hikers and bikers both, but it seemed as though there were more hikers at this time. We had all afternoon to do our chores which consisted of taking inventory of our food supplies, getting the next sections' food supply ready, doing laundry, mailing anything unnecessary back home, and in this particular instance I needed to procure the services of the local cobbler to fix my boots, as the sole near the toes was beginning to show signs of coming apart. I dropped them off for him to tack back together. I sent off some stuff, probably film to be developed (roll #5), to my brother Carl so that he could feel he was a part of my adventure, and then got to the business of what town is all about - eating! Rustled up some free hot dogs, cookies and chips at the nearby 1st Baptist church after another hiker came by and mentioned that they were serving free food at the church.

Most of the remainder of the afternoon was taken up by the other chores and writing postcards and letters to friends and families. I was surprised when Dennis and Taz, Ron and Cathy rolled into town after a 26 mile day having come all the way from Iron Mountain shelter. Up to that point, that was the most I had heard anyone having hiked in one day. We heard stories from them about how Taz, the beagle who would drive anyone crazy with its' insistance on playing fetch, would bring back large limbs and even rocks when cast into the forest. Dennis told of how it had even dove under water at Watauga Lake in search of a rock that his master had thrown into the depths to keep the dog occupied for a while. All those stories make a man hungry, so I stopped at the local Dairy King for a double cheeseburger, french fries, and rootbeer. Towards evening, about 6:59 or so, I went to the payphone down the street and talked with Mom and Dad, and my Aunt Connie. I stood and talked at the payphone as the rain began to fall around me. While talking with my mother I learned that my cousin Gary Grotefendt had been killed in a farming accident. He had been driving a tractor along the side of the road and gotten over too far in order to allow someone to pass when suddenly the tractor flipped over and crushed him. A sad story, he was as old as I, just twenty-three years old. I talked with mom for 33 minutes at a cost of $10.17 for the call. I found out that my sister-in-law, Cheryl, was sending a package to Pearisburg and wanted to know what to send. She had already made up some packages of minute rice that she sealed into "Seal-a-meal" bags. I told her that I needed Ziplock bags, but not to send much to Cloverdale. I really don't know why other than perhaps I was figuring out that it was easier to buy along the way than to have it sent to me. Mom commented that the slides she had received so far were great, with beautiful color. (Notes from mom). I told her that I estimated about four days until Atkins, VA, and would probably be in Pearisburg June 20th. I requested soap, shampoo, film, chocolate fudge Pop-Tarts, two or three Knoor's Mushroom soup packets, and commented that the granola bars were good. (notes continued)

Afterwards I wrote a few more postcards, and of course ate one more time before going to bed.

Gonzo! Appalachian Trail Journals ©1983

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