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June 30, 1983 Thursday (1329.8 mtg) From Gonzo!s Appalachian Trail journal

Judging by the standards set during the last few days on the trail, the section today was a piece of cake. There were no long up or downhill sections. The only real problem was tall grass. The problem with tall grass is interesting. After a rain, and particularly after a heavy morning dew, tall grass will get your feet more wet than if you had just been hiking in the rain. Even if it is raining and you walk through the grass you don't seem to get as wet as the next morning. Whatever the mechanism, my feet got SOAKED this morning as I passed through the tall grass covering parts of the trail. I, and possibly Jody, were the only ones to actually hike the trail today. The rest chose to follow the parkway to Rockfish Gap. I debated whether I should take the parkway, but luckily I decided against it and remained a "purist." Some sections of the trail provided very slippery rocks that were difficult to navigate due to the rain, but before I knew it I was at Rockfish Gap wondering which road to take to find the town of Afton, where my next mail drop was. I had picked Afton over Waynesboro thinking that Waynesboro would be too big and spread out to find anything. Afton looked like a small town, and was just off the trail.

Suddenly a guy in an International Harvester Truck pulled up and asked if I was a North or South Bounder, and wondered if I needed a ride down the mountain. I replied that I was in search of the Afton post office. I looked past the driver and noticed another hiker sitting in the passenger seat. "What is this all about?" I thought. The driver said "hop in and I will take you there" and that was all I needed to hear. I threw my pack into the back and crawled into the cab next to the other hiker whose name was Tom Carmichael. I was taken to the post office where I picked up my mail which I believe was something sent by my sister-in-law, and then driven to the Waynesboro Fire Station. The driver dropped us off there Where many hikers spend the night while in town. Then he said that we were welcome to spend the night at his place. The driver turned out to be Rusty, the guy who was trying to set up a new hostle at his residence near the A.T. around Maupin Field. He told me he would return at around 8.00 pm and take us to his place after we had collected Tom from somewhere along the parkway inside Shenandoah Park. Sounded good to me.

I got groceries at Kroger, called and talked with my mother, and put the snakeskin I was carrying into some alcohol for preservation. During the call, which lasted 25 minutes (cost $8.11), arrangements for our rendezvous were "pinned down" the best they could. I told them to meet me at Swift Run Overlook. I hoped I could make it there. The best we could do was to have them enter the park, then drive down the road until somewhere around Swift Run Gap where they would find me waiting. Although I bought supplies for the week, I packed up all that I would need for two days and asked the Fire Warden if I could leave the rest at the station for a couple of days and pick it up on Sunday. I only needed to carry two days until I was to rendezvous with my parents.

At 8.00 pm, just as he promised, Rusty showed up and picked me up. He stopped at Kroger's grocery store to pick up some hot dogs, buns, fresh peaches, and charcoal before driving along the parkway to pick up Tom. He left me at the ranger's station at the entrance to the Shenandoah National Park to get my permit so I would not have to do that the next morning while he went to find Tom. I stayed at the entry hut with the ranger, whose name was also Alan (Sager) and talked until Rusty finally returned with Tom in the truck. By that time the fog had begun to thicken as we made our way to his home. It was so thick we could barely see the road. We drove for what seemed many miles before exiting from the good road onto a rough gravel drive that led to his place in the hollow. He named the place "Hard Time Hollow." Rusty was a welder who had developed a passion for hikers and was trying to establish a haven for hikers to stay. I had read about the place, but very little had been written about Rusty's place since it was so new. I think Tom and I were two of the first hikers to stay at the new hostle. He had no electricity or running water. Refrigeration was provided by a cool spring near the cabin. We roasted the dogs, and talked into the night. The meal was topped off with A&W RootBeer, and fresh peaches. Later, we pulled in a couple of mattresses and went to sleep full and happy. Saw a wild turkey today.

(Click image for larger view of SNP backcountry permit)

Gonzo! Appalachian Trail Journals ©1983

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