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June 6, 1983 Monday (1771.7 mtg) From Gonzo!s Appalachian Trail journal

Today was a very strange day for culinary delights along the trail. Once again, we started the day off with a freeze dried dinner. This time the entre was chicken-a-la-king along with some gorp. Gorp is the hikers best friend and supplies many of the calories that the hiker needs for the grueling day after day of hiking. It is made of good wholesome foods starting off with Granola, Raisins, and Peanuts, and finishes with as much M&Ms, and other candy and nuts as you can stand. After a while my gorp became just M&M's (plain and peanut), and Reese's Pieces. Who needs all that healthy stuff? It was a beautiful day as we continued on over the bald country. A shroud of clouds hung in the valleys as we marched over the open grassy terrain up one mountain and then descending, and then up to the summit of Little Hump Mountain. After Little Hump came Hump Mountain, one of the nicest balds in the area - one big grass covered mountain. In this particular area of the trail the footway occasionally follows what appear to be jeep tracks, or at least the leftovers of old roads mostly grown over by grass, but still evident with the remnants of two parallel depressions about as far apart from one another as a set of vehicle tires. Upon reaching Doll Flats, a major relocation began that would prove to be difficult to travel on due to its fresh installation, and recent rain. The guidebook indicated a grocery store at the next road crossing where US 19 crosses the trail. The one good thing about the relocation seemed to be that it brought us closer to the store than if we had taken the previous route. We had only to walk about a mile to the store rather than the 2.4 miles before the relocation had gone into effect. We thanked the trail crews in our imginations for the shortcut and soon stepped out onto the shoulder of the road and began our treck to our resupply point in Elk Park, North Carolina. Most new relocations are not welcome. We of course stuck our thumbs out at every potential ride that happened to be going in our direction, but had no luck until just as we caught sight of the store. At that time someone pulled over to offer us a ride, but we declined since the store was just a few yards away. We bought $45.00 worth of groceries between us (my portion coming to $21.00) Along with the groceries we discovered that the store also carried A & W Rootbeer in cans. Well, that was all the tempting we needed to convince us to buy three cans, and a half gallon of vanilla ice cream for rootbeer floats! We opened up the cook kit got out the pots and mixed up mammoth floats the likes of which have probably never been seen there since - one quart of ice cream and 18 ounces (three cans) of rootbeer each!

It began to rain as we were enjoying our folly at the store, and just as it quit we were offered a ride back to the trailhead by someone going that way. Jim had been on the phone talking to his parents, so I interupted him with a quick, "let's go, we got a ride" and off we went. Still part of the relocation, the next few miles of the trail were some of the nastiest trail I have ever been on. This part was not welcome. Initially as we entered onto the trail just past the road, I lost my footing perhaps due to the extra weight that we were now carrying. The trailside conditions were also responsible since the rain had softened and lubricated the earth. I took a tumble and came out of it with a scraped right knee. Having survived that fall, we continued on the relocation that took us through muck and mire that at times could be as deep as eight inches! There was a time when I thought we had gotten lost and somehow were on our way back toward US 19, but continuing on, we eventually made it to Don Nelan shelter sometime before four pm. Dennis, Ron, and Cathy were there before us and had successfully kept other hikers from occupying the shelter so we would have a place for the night. Good thing too, since the weather seemed threatening. I washed up my knee in the ice cold stream nearby, and then relaxed for a while before beginning with the evenings ritual of supper preparation. With only five miles between the road and its grocery store, it is my feeling that this should be taken advantage of, so tonight Jim and I fried up the pound of bacon and one dozen eggs that we carried with us to the shelter - and we still had a pound of pork sausage for the morning! Life can be good on the trail at times.

An old shelter register was being passed around that was basically fully completed after Dennis Hill made his entry. I latched onto the copy and saved it for posterity. All the entries can be seen by clicking here. The register includes a large majority of those who hiked in 1983.

The shelter was crowded that evening as even more hikers showed up. A man named Bill Wiggins stayed there also. I don't recall how many actually stayed in the shelter, but most shelters hold from eight to ten people, but larger numbers have been known to sandwich themselves in, especially on a cold rainy evening. We had arrived at the shelter mostly dry except for the swamp muck that covered our lower legs. Soon after we arrived we experienced a nice little shower. The whole night was kind of damp, the kind of weather where nothing dries, and you have to get up the next morning and put those wet, filthy wool socks back on and slip your feet into those cold clammy hiking boots. Sometimes, particularly in the Smokies, we used to try to dry our socks out by setting them next to the fire, if someone had built one. I don't think this was the best thing for the socks, but at least your feet felt a little dry for the first few minutes of the hike that day. It does not have to be raining the day after to totally soak your feet once again. A heavy dew does just as good a job, sometimes better.

Combined with what Jim spent, for the twenty one dollars I spent at the store I also came back with Mac & Cheese, two Lipton's Noodles and Sauce dinners, peanut butter and jelly, four candy bars, cookies, a box of pop tarts, peaches, M& M's, two instant puddings, milk, oatmeal cakes, instant oatmeal, bread, pancakes and syrup, along with the ice cream and sodas, bacon and eggs, and pork sausage.
Nice temperature, Not too cool.

Although I did not talk with anyone at home at the payphone, Mom went to the post office today and sent out a parcel to Atkins, Virginia - cost $2.94 - (see postal receipt)

Gonzo! Appalachian Trail Journals ©1983

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