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[at-l] 3 Drunk rednecks? (formerly: Itinerary/Safety)

In a message dated 97-01-08, Dean Taylor wrote in part:

>  Guns are illegal on probably most parts of the Trail, especially
>  concealed however, who exactly is going to come to your aid when 3
>  drunk rednecks are sitting in a shelter with loaded weapons?  Mr. Police
>  Man?  Grab your trusy cell-phone and give 'em a call, I'm sure they'll
>  be there toot sweet!  I don't think so.

We have spent many a night in shelters and tents along the A.T. and haven't
encountered anything like the above scenario. It brings to mind something
that Dick "Old Fhart" Bailey, an A.T. 2,000-miler, said in a chat on AOL
recently referring to the fact that he was a tried and true Yankee and I've
never lived outside the south. It went something like this: Before I hiked
the Trail, people warned me to be wary of guys like you when I was down

The following true story explains how fear can get carried away:

In 1988, Andy Hahn drove to the Chattahoochee National Forest to find the
A.T. and talk to thru-hikers about a few details on trip planning. He was
planning a thru-hike of his own, but as he was still unsure of his plans, he
wanted to just ask a few questions without saying that he too wanted to
thru-hike. He walked up to Hawk Mountain Shelter near dusk and encountered a
few hikers set up in the shelter. He asked them about their gear and how much
it had cost. He asked how much money they thought it would take to hike the
whole trail and whether the hikers used cash or traveler's checks. As
darkness closed in he wished the hikers well and walked back to the road.

Several months later, he recounted his trip to Hawk Mountain to some hikers
in another A.T. shelter. Andy was well into his own thru-hike by now. As fate
would have it, one of the hikers Andy had fallen in to hiking with had been
their that night at the shelter and neither of them had put it together until
he told the story. The second hiker told Andy how when he heard someone
walking up from the road, he had reached for his pistol. As he sat in the
shelter listening to the probing questions of the redneck he now knew as Andy
who had walked up from the road, he kept the pistol in his sleeping bag aimed
in the strangers direction. As the questions turned to money he had put his
finger on the trigger. He told Andy that if Andy had made another move toward
the shelter it would have been his last. Andy realized that his unexplained
questions came out all wrong and that they nearly got him killed. 

Something to think about.

-Frank and Victoria

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