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update Hampton (fwd)

Here's the latest from the Kushmans.

Also, Waldo J. has begun putting his journal entries on his page:


---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: 26 Apr 96 07:16:49 EDT
From: Richard Kushman 
Subject: update Hampton

Day 49  4/19/96  Friday     no  miles
Today we met Harvy. He is the unofficial hiker shuttle. He drives his Honda Civic and patrols the Erwin area looking for needy hikers and supplies them with rides. Harvy does not charge a fee, but only an unthinking hiker would refuse an appropriate tip. When contacting Harvy you just have to get lucky, he does not have a phone. We arranged a trip to town along with Godfather and Turtle. The previous day we had not receive our package sent first class from Hot Springs several days earlier. Thankfully I was allowed into the back room of the Post Office to check the boxes.  There it was addressed to Richard & Kathleen - General Delivery - and no last name. The postal worker's smile said it all regarding fault. Next time, Nerxmo will take care of addressing any package. Lunch at the Elms, into the Honda, and back to the motel. Arrangements were made with Harvy for our morning shuttle back to the trail.

Day 50  4/20/96  Saturday     9.3  miles
Harvy was right on time and four packs and four hikers completely jammed his car. Rain was clearly coming soon so pack covers were on and we were ready. The warmer weather made rain less threatening. The plan was to reach Deep Gap and good campsites which would be 10.8 miles and a pretty good start for this section. After trekking six miles the the skies roared with thunder and heavy rains reminded us who controls the heavens. While the storm was directly overhead we huddled under some Rhododendron and ate Snickers bars. We plodded on, all the while thinking about tenting in the rain. After reaching  Beauty Spot, which is a natural grassy bald with normally great views, Nexmo was about to take my picture when a car interrupted her view as it climbed to the overlook. She looked at me, I looked at her and within minutes we were in the back seat of a Grand Cherokee headed back to Erwin for the night. We had still done 9.3 miles and Harvy would bring us back in the morning. We also began to think more about slack packing.

Day 51  4/21/96  Sunday    21.2  miles
Harvy was at the motel bright and early for another shuttle so we discussed our slack packing plan and the die was cast. His Honda only just made it up the mountain to Beauty Spot. Several stops were needed to cool the overheating engine. We were let loose with no heavy packs at 9:15 a.m. and the pick up planned for 6:30 p.m. on top of Roan Mountain. Over nineteen miles and back to the motel for another comfy night.
Push, push, push would describe hiking with a deadline. So we pushed. One advantage, of course, we were making up lost time. The terrain was beautiful but unforgiving. Emerald green Unaka Mountain, Little Bald Knob, Bear Town Mountain, and the best for last, Roan High Knob. The never ending climb of Roan High Knob after already doing 18 miles was simply painful Nexmo arrived on the summit at 7:00 p.m. but Harvy was no where to be found. Fifteen minutes later I found Nexmo sitting with two of the Cheese Girls, ET and Turtle, - Yoda was missing.
At approximately 4:00 p.m., while ET cooked dinner and Turtle mused about saying hi to Tom, Yoda left for the privy. She had been gone almost four hours with no explanation. After rechecking the shelter we headed for Carvers Gap hoping to find Harvy. He in fact had been there but a gate prevented his coming to the top parking area and by the time we reached the bottom he had gone home for dinner. Luckily there were three young men picking up their camping gear and one of them gave us a ride to a gas station in the town of Roan Mt. (Trail Magic). We called 911 immediately and were soon picked up by the EMS Crew #2 from Carter County Tennessee We were brought to their headquarters where they debriefed us and assembled a search and rescue squad, including dogs. They asked us to stay until their command truck was in place and said they would help us return to the Erwin Motel. By 11:00 p.m. the television news was already reporting a lost hiker. Then a local house fire put more strain on there manpower. We called a cab service and were finally back in our motel by 2:30 a.m.. Yoda was still missing. Sleep came only because we had hiked over twenty one miles. Packs or no packs, we were exhausted. 

Day 52  4/22/96  Monday   no miles
The local morning news was still reporting a missing hiker. Our minds created scenarios, none of which made sense or were pleasant. Getting back to Carvers Gap to be with ET and Turtle was the only option we felt comfortable with and with almost no sleep hiking was the last thing on our minds.
Good news greeted Nexmo's call to the Rescue Station about 9:00 a.m., all the girls were there and safe. Yoda had gotten sick and disoriented and spent the night huddled in the forest. The girls were all exhausted but otherwise fine and had called Sutton Brown for a ride to Hampton and his hostel.
We arranged a shuttle with Tom Hensley to Elk Park Campground, which was our next mail drop. There were no other hikers or campers there and the rest rooms and showers did not invite. That along with Nexmo really wanting to see the Cheese Girls brought us to the hostel in Hampton as well. The afternoon spent reviewing Yoda's previous adventure. 
Our room was lovely and we felt very comfortable in Hampton especially after a AYCE Chinese dinner with  ET, Turtle, and Yoda.

Day 53  4/23/96  Tuesday   15.7 miles
Sutton drove ET, Turtle, Nexmo and myself to Walnut Mountain Road where we began slack packing back to Hampton. We began to make up some lost miles. Yoda stayed at the hostel for a days rest. 
The skies threatened rain and delivered but waiting for us was a hot shower and dry clothes. Clearly occasional slack packing could help us make up for those lost bad weather days.
Most memorable was the climb down and around Laurel Falls. We were doing some actual rock climbing, going slow because of the rain.
We reached Laurel Fork Shelter after 4:00 p.m. so we took the blue blaze trail back to town avoiding Pond Flats.

Day 54  4/24/96  Wednesday   20.5  miles
Another slack packing day, making up some miles. Shuttled out to Rt91 and the AT with the Cheese Girls and Guiness we headed home to Hampton. The weather could not be better and the terrain more forgiving. This was our first experience of going South. We met Maple Leaf, Dre, Turbo, Entrophy, and Lobo's Pet all going the right way. It did seem strange but we were cutting the distance to Damascus in half and making up time. 
The terrain was again very pleasant and the view from Vanderventer Shelter a warm pleasant experience. Many delightful camp sights were available around Watauga Lake and had we not had a room at the hostel, would have been very tempting.
Twenty miles  of slack packing is just as tiring as a normal day with full pack, at least for us. Making up the miles and time is the one advantage.

******* BLUE BLAZE - SLACK PACKING *******
Some hikers clearly believe slack packing is cheating. You must carry a full pack, (whatever that means), the full distance. Others say it absolutely  doesn't matter how you do the miles.
There are no referees, coaches, umpires, or judges on the Appalachian Trail. The trail is not a contest or a game about hiking fast or hiking far. The trail is a life experience, the meaning of which, differs with every single person on the path. Any healthy life  experience should be enjoyable and rewarding and that constitutes a meaningful goal.
So - slack pack - flip flop - skip sections - section hike - power hike - car hike - blue blaze - what does it matter. Are you having a rewarding, meaningful and enjoyable time? You have only to ask yourself.

Next Update - Down The Trail
"Download" & "Nexmo"