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June 9, 1983 Thursday (1725.1 mtg) From Gonzo!s Appalachian Trail journal

The objective today was to move up the trail about 15 miles and put us within a half days walk to our next resupply point in Damascus, Virginia. We were up again at 5:50 am as usual, and the terrain this morning was quite nice. We were rapidly approaching the Virginia state line, and our one month anniversary of being on the trail. Jim and I had been roommates at college for a few years, but that did not prepare us for the stress created by living with a person 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Part of that was my fault. I suggested that we share equipment whenever possible. In an effort to keep our pack weights to a minimum, and also avoid having to purchase and carry duplicates of equipment like our stove, fuel, and pots and pans, Jim and I had to stay together at least at breakfast and supper where the use of a stove to heat water in a pot was necessary. I had a set of guide books that I had left over from my previous journey that I had dismantled and rebound in order to keep us informed where the springs were, and help us when the trail markings were not adequate. The guides originally provided descriptions for traveling in both north to south, and from south to north directions. Since I had no intentions of backtracking, I decided to save as much weight as I could by removing the descriptions of the north to south direction. Since a set of guides costs over one hundred dollars, we chose to share the ones I had. Due to all this sharing and time spent together, Jim and I began to get on each other's nerves at times. In some ways I think that the problem of making decisions became the sand between the layers that began to irritate each of us. It seemed as though each of us wanted to please the other so we would let the decision up to the other guy. Of course the other guy did not want to make a decision that would be something that the companion would not like - hence a problem began. We were never much apart, everything he did, I did. Everything I did, he did. At the end of the day we had nothing to talk about since we had experienced the same thing. Jim seemed to like to take more breaks than I. I liked to be on the move. Occasionally he would ask if I wanted to take a break. Although I don't think I had any problem with taking breaks, I preferred to take breaks in areas that were scenic, or offered something out of the ordinary. I became irritated when he would ask about taking a break. I think I would have preferred for him to just say, "let's take a break now," or "I am taking a break now." On my first Appalachian trail hike I learned the dangers of traveling with a large group and loosing your independence as the group tends to make decisions that you go along with due to peer pressure, and now it seems as though this type of thing can also affect you in a group of only two. Perhaps it is best to hike the trail by yourself - there will usually be someone around to keep you company.

Roughly seven miles down the trail we stopped for a break and a snack at Iron Mountain Shelter, and then stopped again just about a mile past the shelter where the Nick Grindstaff monument is located. I took pictures of the monument and of course Jim took pictures also. Perhaps the quote on the monument should have inspired us to somehow work on a solution to our problem. The inscription on the monument to the old hermit erected by some of his relatives read: "Lived Alone, Suffered Alone, Died Alone." From there we moved on along the crest of Iron Mountain. I developed a tightness in my right calf after about eleven miles, but kept on going for another four miles before taking a break for lunch. We kicked up a grouse with a group of chicks, and then later a red fox. At about 12:15 pm we reached Double Springs Shelter, where we chose to have lunch. We had gone fifteen miles up to that point - a long time to travel before having lunch. From this shelter we had another seven miles of hiking to reach Abingdon Gap shelter, and put us within striking distance of Damascus, Virginia.

Today seemed to be the day for wildlife. All in all we saw three mama ruffed grouse, each with chicks, one fox, and one wild turkey that tried to distract us from its brood by acting injured and then acting aggressive toward us when it's first tactic failed. We arrived at Abingdon Gap shelter between four and four thirty in the afternoon. There was a nice cool breeze, and bright and sunny sky. The temperature, according to the thermometer was in the low sixties. I hobbled down to get water, which just kind of trickled out of the ground. Following the spring down just a short distance I found a stronger flow, but still no pipe or gutter to allow a "faucet" type flow. We ate a stew that we supplemented with a wild mushroom that I had found along the trail.

Gonzo! Appalachian Trail Journals ©1983

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