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June 20, 1983 Monday (1530.3 mtg) From Gonzo!s Appalachian Trail journal

I polished off the remainder of the Honey Nut Cheerios cereal and milk for breakfast this morning before heading back down the blue-blazed side trail that took us toward the trail. We planned to stop at the post office first to collect Jim's mail before heading out on the "real" trail. I sent some stuff off, probably exposed film for Mom to have developed, wrote about seven post cards, and sent them off too. Suddenly, Jim discovered that he did not have his pack cover in the spot that he normally keeps it. Had he left it back at the hospice? Out of desperation, he hurried back to the hospice to check there. Time went by as I waited for his return. While I waited the postmaster came to the window and said that Jim was on the phone and wanted me to look in the lower compartment of his pack. I did, and sure enough it was there. He had gone all the way back for no reason. I am sure he was relieved, yet embarrassed and pissed at the same time.

Upon his return, he finished mailing out his letters. Amazingly enough after all that we were finally heading back to the trail, but with one of our latest starts so far. Late, but not as bad as I thought it would be. We headed out at 9:30 am. The walk out of Pearisburg kind of sucked. All the roadwalk of the blue-blazed trail just to get where we had left the trail, and then a little more road while crossing the Senator Shumate Bridge over the New River before finally dipping back into the woods for a climb up Peters Mountain. The trail followed the crest of Peters Mountain for a large piece of the afternoon it seemed, and later a slick, rocky descent following Pine Swamp Branch near the edge of Pine Swamp brought us to Pine Swamp Branch Shelter. Many stinging nettles thrived in the area. The moist, swampy surroundings were prime habitat for the plant. Luckily there were also numerous Jewel Weed plants growing nearby for those who might need a little medication. I felt a sense of frustration and uncontentness in the air today. It may have seemed like it started with the packcover incident, but I think that it had been brewing long before this. Very little was said that night, and I could tell Jim was having a tough time. I was not good at dealing with him, my goal was to reach Katahdin. I wanted to have him along, but if I had to continue on by myself, so be it. I had failed once, but not this time. For Jim, I don't think it was that big of a deal. He was just here to have some fun, which he was not. At least not enough. Many people think that the biggest challenge of the trail would be the physical aspect of the trail, and that might be what takes people out at the very beginning. But farther down the trail it becomes more of a mental game. Can I keep going with what seems to be the same thing every day - walking, walking, and more walking. It can get rather boring. Sometimes when you are at your very lowest, and ready to quit, you just have to go on for another week and many times your mood will change. I mentioned this to Jim. The trail can do strange things to your mind. I have at times come up with thoughts of all kinds of things that I can do once I return from the trail. Of course, if I had not been on the trail, I would probably never have thought of these things. Once, since food is such a major concern on the trail, I had decided that I would become a chef when I returned since I had a newfound interest in eating. Of course out on the trail everything tastes good. I have had dreams of doing other things while on the trail, but none have been pursued with as much enthusiasm as the enthusiasm for the dreams when the dreams were made.

For our first day out of Pearisburg, 18.8 miles was probably too much, and contributed to Jim's waning enthusiasm for continuing with the hike. It was a long day. We had gotten started late, and now we were ending late. We arrived at the shelter between seven and eight o'clock that evening. Fixed supper after having some problems making a mutual decision about what to eat, and then went to bed. Dave and Beth, whom we had passed earlier, rolled in after dark. Today I saw some of those red newts and a whitetail deer along the trail.

Gonzo! Appalachian Trail Journals ©1983

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