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May 19, 1983 - Thursday (2089 miles to go) From Gonzo!s Appalachian Trail journal

I guess as far as keeping the rain out, Rocky Knob shelter did a formidable job last night, but my day began as I awoke to the splattering of water droplets upon my glasses. After evaluating the situation, I discovered that this was the only location that a leak had occurred, and just my luck it functioned as the morning alarm clock. Getting up to a potential day of walking in the rain is one of the toughest challenges in the southern Appalachians, where if you get caught in the wrong weather patterns, you can be walking in the rain for days on end. It takes a lot of discipline to get your butt up to begin the daily walk knowing that your feet will be soaked in a few minutes, and your body may become chilled in the early spring breeze. Out comes the pack cover, the rain jacket, and the cover for the baseball cap that keeps the sun out of your eyes and now the rain off your glasses. I started out with my bright orange sweat pants to keep me warmer, yet rolled up as if they were knickers in order to prevent them from becoming too wet and mud covered. My feet became soaked soon after departing, but didn't feel too bad. Sometimes the squish, squish, squish of the water between your toes is kind of theraputic, but usually just annoying. A fierce cold wind was blowing as we ascended Tray mountain, and I soon lowered my sweats to protect my wind chilled, cold legs as I began to fear the possibility of hypothermia. That felt a lot better. We stopped in at Montray shelter for a little lunch, and although I am sure that we would have liked to have stayed there due to the weather, we decided to move on to Addis Gap shelter instead, another 5.3 miles.

After a long haul we arrived at Addis Gap shelter only to find it full of children. Such is life on the trail, especially when the weather is rainy and nasty! It is on days like this that some hikers decide not to move at all and upset the balance of shelter population distribution. On the bright side, it may also allow for chance meetings of hikers that you may never quite catch up to if going at the same pace. This was not one of those rare occasions. Not wanting to spend the night with, or next to a bunch of young kids, Jim and I chose to keep on hiking. The time was 3:40 pm, not enough time to cover the eleven miles to Plumb Orchard Gap shelter. If we could have stayed at Addis Gap shelter, the day would have been bearable after a mere 14 mile day in the rain. It would have been a nice break after the almost twenty mile day yesterday, and factoring in the weather, it would have been just about right. We moved on. After the longest 5.4 miles that we had walked to this point, we arrived at Dick's Creek Gap, which was located next to US highway 76 leading downhill 11 miles to the town of Hiawassee. There was a vehicle parked in the Georgia State Highway Dept. parking area near the road with a license plate indicating it was registered in Michigan. Next to the lot, a little farther from the road, was a level section that seemed like a good pace to erect our two-man tent. Apparently the lot was for day hikers or short-term hikers to park as they found access to the trailhead. The temptation to try to hitch into town for the night pulled at us, but we wanted to be real mountain men - we pitched our tent in the dripping rain and crawled into the sack. I suppose that the decision to not go into town, at least for me, was affected by the experience on my previous thru hike attempt in which I and a couple of others decided to hitch off the trail and ended up skipping small sections of the trail. This eventually brought about the demise of that journey when I realized that I would not be able to say that I had walked the entire trail. 19.4 miles for the day - Rained most of the day.

Although I was not aware of this, my Mother went to the post office this morning and sent out the first maildrop of my trip to Fontana Dam, North Carolina just under a week away. (See Postal receipt) $3.09

Gonzo! Appalachian Trail Journals ©1983
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