Chapter 3
On the AT with "The Old Gray Goose"
June 31 6-1-92--Staying a day in town longer than planned=====Rested my legs and feet. Actually, one of the fellows was supposed to have a pair of hiking boots arrive here and they didn't and the other fellow didn't get his food drop. I decided to take a rest day and leave town tomorrow with one of the fellows. The other one will be stuck here till about Fri. waiting for his boots. The loaner pair they sent him are also losing their sole so he doesn't have much choice. He doesn't like having to stay off the trail at all! I think the rest day has helped my leg tho'. It's not nearly as sore as it was yesterday. I'll definately wear my supports going out tomorrow and I have a brand new tube of sports cream to use so I guess I will do just fine. Hiking with these two fellows has really been fun. It's like I'm hiking with you kids! Actually Sheryl, one is your age and has 2 kids. We have been doing really well at dinner times as you have probably gathered by my menu discription. I even get an "ok, mom the water is hot for coffee" every once in a while. I really do feel very comfortable with these fellows. More so than if I were with ones my own age, I think. I guess it must seem pretty strange to you to have your mom roaming the country-side with people you don't know a thing about, and actually I don't know a lot about most of them, and here I am putting my sleeping bag side by side with 6 or 7 fellows in the shelter or sleeping in a hostel room with 6 to 8 bunks. "Me" and most likely the rest of the bunks are male occupied. Now here I am in a motel with two fellows that make me think of you kids!!!!!!!!!! In "the real world" it's not the same as out here on the trail so, all this doesn't seem strange at all. It is a way of survival, it is the way of the trail. Like going behind the trees, not acceptable in "the real world". Out here?? Very necessary! Love you much. Mom ox
Cloverdale in 7 days, I think.
Tue. 6-2-92
==On the trail again. Headed out of town just 'fore noon. The trail went thru an area filled with honeysuckle vines and hedge roses! The air was really thick with the smell of the honeysuckle blooms. We left one fellow in town but, another one stopped by and left out with us. It is a fellow that Jeff ("B") had known for a while and had been watching for. He goes by The Pilgrim. He had been layed up for about 8 days because he had a toenail removed. He is an older retired fellow. Very nice. I'm sure glad that we hadn't planned to go any further than the tent site at 4.5 mile. It was most all uphill. I was real glad when I finally got up here! It had a few steep places and a few "rock scramble" places. I seemed to take an awfully long time getting here. Have about 15 to go tomorrow to the next shelter. Weather forecast says rain again tomorrow night. It was sunny and BEAUTIFUL today. Boy, the people at the motel were real friendly and helpful folks. They drove us to town to go to the post office and laundry and again to go eat. That was included in the room fee. Nice to have a shuttle like that. It was probably 1 1/2 to 2 mile up to town. Have my tent set up on a pretty level spot. Hope the ground isn't to lumpy. Not much newsy stuff tonight. Hope to get up fairly early in the a.m. so, guess I'll hit the sack pretty soon. It's already 9p.m. and I'm tired. Love you all, Mom. o.x. 6-3-92=whew!14.4 miles today and it was sure a tiring day.
My feet and knees were sure tired when I got to the last 1.3 miles--down. Ah well, at least I made it. Saw two deer today. The first was a big doe with a bright reddish brown coat and the second was a little buck. Also saw a little snake across the trail, garter snake I guess, it quickly made an exit when I touched it with my walking stick. Have bad news on the trail! Back where I've already been. Have seen a notice posted that there was a rape and female hikers are advised to not hike alone. Glad I am with two fellows! Today I hiked in the middle, not in sight, but at least they knew where I was. We haven't seen any strangers(yet). Well, I think I'm going to go to bed a bit earlier tonight. Not sure how far we are going tomorrow. Decide that in the a.m.. Sure do miss you all!! Mom.
THUR. JUNE 4th--------Rain, rain, rain.
.....11.9 miles and it rained most of the day. Saw lots of water, rocks and my boots today. Didn't do much looking up and still managed to fall AGAIN ! Geez, that makes 4 times already. At least I've landed on my pack mostly. I know how a turtle feels when it gets flipped over! ha ha.. Did see a few pink azaleas today tho'. They were so fragrant they made me look up. It was nice to see something so pretty on this rainy, rainy day. We stopped for an early lunch at the first shelter, about 4 miles, and I proceeded to put on my dry long john top. I left it on to hike in so, I now have two wet shirts. No dry shirts left to hike in. Only dry, in the shelter shirt. Not certain how far we are going tomorrow. If it's raining we may only go 6 miles. The next shelter is 12.5 and leaks! We have a full shelter tonight, same 6 of us from last night plus 2 "week hikers". Going to be warm tonight and very close quarters. At least it's DRY and warm! It feels sooooooo good to be dry and warm after a day of hiking in the rain. I hate to even think about making a privy run tonight. ha ha. Sure miss Pop. Love, Mom.
Fri. June 5, 1992. a short day today.
Started out in a slight sprinkle and then it actually cleared. I saw only one deer today but actually had my eyes pretty well on the trail because of rocks. At least not rocks AND rain. The forecast said rain and thunder storms for this afternoon but they never arrived. Just a few sprinkles. Had a lone female come into the shelter before supper. Hadn't seen her before. She is from New York state. Had a VERY strange fellow stop and fix his supper. He was either on something or maybe should have been and wasn't! Sat there talking and whispering to himself and laughing. He did talk to us very lucidly about places he'd been or was going. The other girl and I were both sitting here putting the description from the flyer to him. The weight was not the same and I'm not good on heights but shoe-strings, hair and pack matched and it was real scary to think that the other girl (Monkey) or I could have met him on the trail. Although it probably was just some poor soul out of medicine trying to keep out of the city-BUT, I'm glad I'm with this bunch! Four of us are part of the bunch at the last shelter plus Monkey plus a fellow that goes by Bird 'cause his name is Jay. I met him a couple weeks ago. As I said, short day, only 6 miles. The next shelter of a sorts was 12 miles and found from a Southbound hiker that the old homestead supposed to be shelter had the corncrib for the shelter. Not room for very many. The next was 18 miles, too much today. So, four out of six ended up here. It really smelled fresh today and there were more of those lovely pink azaleas that smell so good. orange newt or salamander Saw a little bright orange salamander or newt or whatever. And orange azaleas too. The bushes and trees were all such nice fresh shades of green. Yep, should have been fresh after a day and most of a night of rain. The little runs were raging over their edges and frothing over the rocks and I'm really glad the larger ones had bridges over them!! We have a fair size one to cross first thing in the morning but hopefully there will be no more rain tonight and it will have calmed somewhat by then. I expect since we took a short day today it will throw us off schedule for getting into Cloverdale. Guess we'll just have to wait and see what happens. Still seem to be VERY slow on the hills. My knees are starting to complain on the downs so, I am not making up time there any more. I guess that was pretty hard on my knees anyway. Not such a good thing to do. With a couple of long "upsquot; today it took 4 hours to do this 6 miles. Sure would be nice to get my 2 mile per. hour on ups!!!!!!!!!!!! Patience. I'm still working on it. At least I don't get as frustrated as I did at the beginning on being slow. Maybe I'm learning a little patience?? I keep telling you I'm wet and I know you must be wondering how I'm getting so wet wearing my rain coat. I don't know if I did tell you before or not, anyway, when I put my raincoat on it does keep the rain off me but it is like a sauna suit. It keeps the heat in and makes me sweat terribly. If it then gets colder outside or cold and windy, the raincoat then sticks to my wet arms/shirt and chills me. If it is fairly warm temperature and not a windy rain, I can put the hood of my pack cover over my head and the front and sides cover my shoulders and the back of it over my pack (poncho style). That way I'm out of the rain except for my arms and the heat escapes some, so I don't get soaking wet with sweat. Really don't mind the wet so much but when I get cold too it's AWFUL!!! I get tired more quickly, discouraged easier and in poor spirits as I'm hiking along wet AND cold. I am real glad it is pretty safe to say we're past the snow, sleet stage anyhow. Now just cold rain to contend with. But I guess that's part of spring and up till now I feel I've really been pretty lucky. Well kids, it's getting that time again. Love and miss you all. ox Mom.
SAT...June 6th.
creek crossingHello again. Had a "beautiful weather day" today. The sun was in and out today and the breeze was with us most of the day. Had very long uphill. Took all morning and a bit more to get that accomplished. Pilgrim and I kinda fizzled out together at the top, so we just stopped and took a lunch break! Got a bit further and discovered we had even longer to go than we had figured so did a few feet back-up and had our stoves out for a hot cup of tea and "B" came back. He'd been sitting a hundred feet or so ahead and heard us talking and Monkey was already parked there so we proceeded to have a snack AND tea. Had another good rest but still had about 6 miles to travel. We crossed some rock slabs that sure weren't for faint hearted people!! Made you stop and check it out before trying to cross that. It was a great view down into the valley tho' being up on the crest of the mountain and out on the edge. The mountains on the other side were really hazy so no really good photos across the way. brown lizard There were brown lizards scampering along on a couple of logs and some kind of small trees blooming. What does Sourwood look like? Nope, blooms later I think. Smelled pretty good along where there were a lot of them. Had a very long day but it was sure a pretty one and very different with the rock climbing. Going to be two days later than I had thought I would be getting into Cloverdale. Sure hope Pop doesn't get too worried not hearing from me when I said I thought I'd call. Monkey called to find out if the strange fellow could possible be the suspect they were looking for and we are reassured that NO he is NOT. Makes us feel much better. Going to rub my feet and legs down and stretch out and watch it get dark. ha ha. It's 8p.m. Love you, Mom. p.s. 12.5miles today.
because it was just too late when I finished everything. Let me begin by telling you aboutSUN. June 7th. We all started out from Ninday shelter in good spirits. When we got to the river/road crossing we had gone 9.9 miles already. We all (5 of us) met there and decided that "B" and Horatio were going to go another 7 or so miles to the next road and store and camp at their pond. Pilgrim was going 1 more mile to the next shelter and Monkey and I were going to attempt to go up to "Dragons Tooth"' and see if we could catch a sunrise or sunset on this high rocky outcropping. WELL, I'm still being watched over. No doubt in my mind at all on that as you will see by the following. First, the two young fellows left. I had to filter water out of the river and when I got two quarts done, Pilgrim was just getting ready to start up the trail. Just as he got out of sight a man pulled in beside Monkey and me in a pick-up truck and said he owned the place right across the river and were we headed across the mountain?? We said no, that was too far to go today, the others had already left who were and the other was just going a mile. He then offered to take our packs to the other side of the mountain so we could slack-pack. Then, he ran up the trail calling Pilgrim back. Let me tell you, that piece of climbing I did with no pack on my back was some climb. But the DOWN part was the real adventure. I really don't know how I would have done it with my pack-------with great difficulty no doubt!!!! The trail is not what you would actually call a safe and tame piece of walking at times. Possible or passable but, is it within MY capabilities???? You don't know for sure on some places until you try it. So far, I have been fortunate. Any falls I have taken down muddy or rocky places have not been serious. Any really scary places I have not had problems. So, when the three of us got over and down to the road, there was Mr. and Mrs. Houck and the other two hikers waiting for us. We went to a grocery store and all chipped in $$ (I think we hikers coughed up 6) and went back to their "woods home" and had a great meal and an evening of wonderful company and tented in their side yard of pine trees.
MONDAY morning June 8th.
We were treated to breakfast! Then they drove us back to the trail on the other side of the mountain where we were to start again. What a treat!! They were great folks, a special couple providing "trail magic" for thru-hikers they catch at their river crossing!! We did get a rather late start and along the way we got caught in a rain storm, got a good shower ha ha, at least it was warm and it actually didn't feel bad. We did get to a shelter we'd planned to take a break there and waited until it was no longer thundering or lightning and then went on up and over the last knob before our planned night shelter. 10.1 miles Mon.. It was a bit late by the time we finished supper since we had an hour or so hold up from the rain earlier and got into the shelter late.
***TUE. 9th
I'm still upset about my dog. I can't believe she got loose and Pop couldn't get her. Hope I don't get any more bad news! Must be she's either been shot or hit or seems like she'd be back. If I'd have been home she wouldn't have gone, but, I can't do anything about it now and I'm trying real hard not to get bummed out. It's a real struggle every day on the trail physically and mentally to keep my spirits up and if I start to worry about things at home it's sometimes VERY difficult. headed to Cloverdale
We did a 15.2 mile day to get into town and if "B" hadn't gotten here early and gone to the town where the post office was, I wouldn't have my $ or food supply tonight and I wouldn't be sitting here in a laundromat getting my clothes clean again. Didn't get here to the motel until 5:15p.m. I called Pop and took a shower and we went and ate and then to the laundromat-----now back at the motel trying to get my journal caught up. I read a couple very good entries in a shelter register and I will share part of them with you---------------------The first one was entered by "young Gun". In part he says," The trail offers no tangible rewards, in fact most would see it as a nutty undertaking. For myself, the answer is simple-to undertake a significant challenge and see it through!!" The other from "Mean Joe". He comments on Young Gun's statements and adds---"There are some of us old guns of all ages out here too, we have had many successes as well as a lot of failures. His reason for being here is one of our reasons for being here. It's just not THE MOST important one, or if it was at one point it no longer is. The idea that we must finish this hike to Katahdin is simply incomprehensible. We can only take one day at a time. What we feel today may not apply tomorrow. We don't wish to make this hike into an obsession, into a forced march. We want to keep it in perspective and to be flexible"-------------he goes on to say--"We're here for many reasons and gives a few--to fulfill a dream, to experience the rigors of a long hike, to spend more time immersed in the myriad of wonders of nature, to learn to live more simply, to enjoy the many splendid views, to become attuned more to Chief Seattle than Donald Trump, to observe and identify the plants and animals, to experience the extremes of aloneness and togetherness, to get in shape, to lose weight, to make new friends, to meet the locals along the way, to enjoy the contrast of trail and town life and to celebrate with wine, food, song and new friends, to learn from and share with others and last but not least to get away from the lives we were living, to put them in a new perspective in order to appreciate them that much more or, to make necessary changes. We will finish our hike and it could be most anywhere, Katadhin, Damascus, or even Neels Gap. When our soul's needs are met, we will go home, whether now, next year or at life's end. Then and only then our journey, this hike, will be ended."-------------I thought those were worth sharing with you. Each day out here is different from the last. Each day a different struggle, either mentally or physically or both. You make a decision and act on it and see the results-good, bad or otherwise. I work hard each day to be able to reach the goal of however many miles it may be I settle on. My body hurts in various places every day. I am enjoying this hike and I love being able to be in the woods, hills etc. every day. I miss you all VERY much. Love, Mom.
Wed. 6-10-92
Hello again. On the trail again. Spent one night in Cloverdale, Va.. Went to bed late and got up early! Had to take a trip to the post office this morning and to the hardware store to buy fuel for my stove. Pilgrim decided he needed a rest day so he is in town tonight. He treated us to a "Micky-D's" on the way out of town since it was almost 11 a.m. by the time Monkey and I were ready to leave. "B" left even later but we only came to the first shelter. It's only 4.9 miles out of town. Really glad it wasn't any farther. I was really tired this morning when I got up and didn't have much oomph hiking out. Had about 1/2 mile or more road walk on an upgrade and then 1 1/2 mile hill to get to the shelter. It wasn't such a bad hill but my chest sure did start to hurt. I don't know why 'cause most of it wasn't that steep. Geez, something new to worry about. Checked my data book and the distances between shelters and the times I had down to get to my next drop and it doesn't come out. I think I need to look at my schedule again. Looks like a second up-date may be in order. Well, here it is, after 9p.m. and the other 3 people here (Monkey, B and Horatio) are snoozing already. Guess I'd better get this put up and see if I can't get to sleep too. Have a 13.7 planned tomorrow. Love you and miss you. Mom.
Thur. 6-11-92
Hello again. Actually slept well last night. Better than I have for a while and even rolled over and went back to sleep. After 7a.m. when I rolled out. I guess I must have been really tired. I had a really good day today. Didn't get rained on until 1 p.m. or so, just before we got to the Blue Ridge Parkway. Boy, it sure seems strange, walking along/across that. I can remember Pop and I going down that and seeing hikers and wondering what in the world those people were doing???????? Ha ha, now I know. Monkey and I hiked together all day today. Rather nice change from what I'm used to. Right now I'm sitting here in my sleeping bag, warming up with a cup of hot tea/tang. Haven't fixed supper yet. Got here to Bobblets Gap shelter around 4:30. Took off my wet shirts and got dry ones on and got my wet shoes and sox off AFTER I filled my water bag. Set out my sleeping pad and bag and then heated water so we all could have a hot cup of whatever. I was sitting on top of my bag to start this but got awfully chilly so slid in to finish it up. The trail today was good. The hills were mostly nicely graded. Not much steep and the few places that were , at least, were not too long. There were a couple of places we had to go through that were very overgrown and of course that was after the rain came so, we got REALLY wet. Other than our shirts I mean 'cause they were wet already! There are still the 4 of us kind of together. With only us in the shelter, we actually have room. With a full shelter, there is just a few inches between sleeping bags and makes for a slightly cramped feeling. Ha ha, what a trip in extremes out here. You can be alone almost all day walking and yet end up practically elbow to elbow in a full shelter. Well, it's almost 6:30. The two fellows have been napping(I should say, are napping) I'm not quite warmed up so, I guess I'll sit here a few more minutes and read the shelter register. I sure do miss you all, especially Pop! xo Mom.
Fri. 12th
Hmm can't believe my new flashlight is acting up!! Don't know what's wrong with it. Comes on ok and immediately goes dim and out. Oh well, I hope I don't need to make a mid-night privy run. I guess I'll hurry this along. Did 17.1 today. Had an absolutely beautiful day weatherwise. Started out a bit foggy but cleared. Ate lunch by Jennings Creek. It was really nice. Monkey hiked with me again today until the last 3 mile. I took a short break before starting up (2 1/2 up then 1/2 down). So, when we started out she went on ahead and I just took my time. Had some pretty steep parts along there. Had a nice day but tired. Almost 9p.m.! Miss Pop!! ox Mom.
Sat. June 13th.-
Another beautiful day. Rhodys on the trail The shelter has rhododendron in bloom all around and the trail up to and out of also had beautiful blooms. Quite a few of those good smelling azalea too. Saw a YELLOW lady slipper today. Monkey and I hiked 9.4 together today. It has been great. I think the last three days have been the best on the trail. I have enjoyed it immensely!!!!!!!
I thought it would be my feet or knees or legs that would force me to end my adventure, not my heart strings! I have decided to leave the trail after walking 748.6 miles. That is over one third of the total distance of the AT. Only 2 months and 2 weeks time but, my heart is tugging me home to Pop and the rest of my family. And maybe I can find my dog when I get there. I thought I would be able to handle just having all your support and backing with letters and phone calls and such.---Lin, is this what being homesick is?? I never quite understood but Grandma Lina did and said it was AWFUL! I agree. Missing you all seems to me more than I really care to do if I don't HAVE to so, I have a choice. I can stay on the trail and see the sights and meet the people and enjoy BUT have a great emptiness in my heart -or- I can choose to leave the trail with all the wonderful memories I have acquired and be with a loving husband and close family and old friends!! And maybe I will find my dog. I will miss seeing new sights every day and the awesome sights of the AT as it goes through this great country of ours but, I will have a warm full heart! Thanks for all the support and encouragement, it has meant a lot to me. Love Mom.
Sitting in a campground waiting for Sheryl and Rick. Someone is still looking after me! Petites Gap I got off the trail at mile marker 71 on the Blue Ridge Park Way (Petites Gap). As I walked along with my thumb out watching the cars pass me by I didn't think so though. I must have walked five mile at least and then I spotted a park ranger coming out of a utility road just up ahead of me. I made good use of my ability to whistle and waved him down. He drove up to me and I asked him if he could transport me down to a little town that I had as my next mail drop. He of course asked if I was sick or hurt and my answer was no, but I am getting off of the trail and going home. Well he loaded me and my pack up and as we were going down the parkway he was asking me questions and finally asked why I wanted to go to this particular place. My answer was that I knew of no other place to go to phone home and await the arrival of my husband. I really didn't know if I could find a place to park it for the night or if I'd have to sit up all night. Well, bless his soul, he said that he could take me to a campground on the parkway and he thought I would be much safer there. Also if I didn't have enough money with me to cover the cost of the tentsite, it could be paid by whomever came to pick me up! I realized if I had gotten a ride while hitchiking I would have ended up in a very uncomfortable situation. After I got to the camp ground I tried to phone Pop a couple of times and he wasn't home! So, I tried Sheryl---------she wasn't home! Thank goodness for Becky though, she took my message that I was off the trail and trying to call "grandpa" to come and pick me up. I discovered I not only had enough money to cover the cost of the tentsite I also had enough to go into the little snack-bar and get some "real food". I pitched my tent and got my little home away from home all situated and went to eat. I again tried to get Pop on the phone but still no luck. Again I called Sheryl and this time she was there and said "oh, did you get my message?" No, I said , not yet. I told her I just had to come home and I couldn't reach her dad and did she know where he was? Well, to make a long story short, she said when Rick got home she would ask him if they could drive down to get me. She would phone me back in a little while. I had enough time to go back to my tent and get a jacket and hit the snackbar for an icecream cone. When I went back to my tent, the ranger was there trying to figure out how to leave a message for me. He laughed when he told me this was his second time up there. The first time he thought he must have the wrong site number. He had a message for somebodys mother and all that was on that site was a back-packers tent!! Tee Hee... Well, I got my cone and sat on the curb in front of the pay-phone booth, waiting. Finally got my call and no, she couldn't reach Dad either but, she and Rick would be down to get me. I'm going to go to the park program that the rangers have and then get a good nights sleep. Tomorrow morning I'll be on my way home WITH FAMILY. I'll finish this up after I get home. Pop won't know I'm on my way untill he sees me at home!!! SURPRISE!!!!! On me that is. When we finally got home late in the afternoon would you believe that your father was not home again? Now mind you I had no keys with me and he always locks EVERYTHING. Pretty bad, have to break into a window to get into your own house ha ha. I called our friends in Ashtabula and Carol said no, Bill isn't here now but he was last night, we all went out for supper----------WHERE ARE YOU???? When I told her I was at home Fred said he wanted to see your dads face when he got home and found me there. They got here before your dad did and when he first saw me on the porch he thought I was Carol.Surprise When I opened the door, he realized it was THE OLD GRAY GOOSE home to roost. The first thing he said is "what the h--- are you doing here?". Now isn't that a fine greeting I said. Well, we got a big laugh out of that and he was really glad to see me and to know I was really alright, just discovered what being homesick was all about. Never did find my dog although I've looked and called and hunted the area. Part of what brought me home was thinking if I had been here, she wouldn't have gone missing.. That must also figure into the homesickness. ************SUMMER VACATION:-July 1992
Dad and I are going to go up to Herriman State Park in New York on his vacation. We are also going into New Jersey and see if we can catch any of the hikers I had been with. There is a place called The Lemon Squeeze Lemon Squeezein the state park that is supposed to be difficult to do with a pack on so I want to slack-pack that area now in case I am by myself when I get to that area next year.---------------
yep, you got it. I'm going to "regroup" and get back on the AT next spring. Have to refigure how to get visitations in with Pop and not lose time hiking!!!!!!!!! I guess I won't be a real "thru-hiker" but, I'll be a "2,000 miler" and I want to get back on the trail at what would be about the time I should be there if I had started in Ga.
---- on to Chapter 4-------
I really do continue the rest of the journey ©
Goose Nest
Hostel & Town stops