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[at-l] journal



THE 1997 SLACKPACK TOUR OF THE APPALACHAIN TRAIL

MARCH 28, 1997 - FRIDAY

	arrived at AMICALOLA FALLS STATE PARK around 2pm, after some 
grocery shopping.  weather is stormy and generally unpleasant.  i have
cottage #7 
reserved thru checkout time on sunday (easter).  drove past the cottage,
then 
on to the lodge to check in, then on to the visitor center to let the
ranger 
know that any hikers are welcome to stop by.  cottage is large with 2
bedrooms, 
2 bathrooms, large kitchen/dining/living area, large screened porch, AND
I'M ALL 
ALONE.  the young couple that were to drive my van this summer decided to
break 
up after 2 years together, and to each go their seperate ways, neither
deciding 
to go my way.  i have hired a fellow from new jersey to drive the van,
but he 
won't arrive for 2 more weeks.  plan B...
	i opened all of the doors and windows of the cottage and unpacked
all of 
the groceries and was getting well settled in when i heard a knock at the
door.  
an exasperated young lady with a large backpack is saying that the ranger
told 
her that she may find a welcome face here at cottage #7.  she turned out
to be 
a 40 year old by the name of JANE who had thought that she would have to
hike in 
the storm, and was glad to accept my hospitality.  we talked, i saw the
pictures 
of her kids, we went thru her pack and got rid of some of the weight, and
then 
there was another knock at the door.  this time it was a 56 year old
fellow named 
PETE.  he joined me and jane, we had coffee, we went thru his pack. 
before you 
know it, it was midnight.  goodnight...

MARCH 29, 1997 - SATURDAY

	we were all up at the crack of dawn, drinking coffee and eating
breakfast.  
JANE was packed and gone by 8am.  PETE hung around a while and got going
by 9am.  
time to do some dishes and clean up a bit...
	so i straightened up, did some paperwork for the accountant,
planned some 
of my pending hikes, and decided that the day was just too gorgeous to
miss.  i 
change into my hiking gear and did 3 miles of the appalachian approach
trail, 
NIMBLEWILL GAP ROAD to the VISITOR CENTER and return.  i'm pumped...
	the day was so nice that no one came to visit.  i read, i ate, i
took a 
shower, i planned some more hikes, i drove to a phone to check my
messages, no 
messages, i did the dishes, i played some games on the computer, i turned
in 
early...

MARCH 30, 1997 - EASTER SUNDAY

	up at dawn, i dressed for hiking, ate breakfast, loaded the van,
locked 
the place up, went to the lodge to check out, then drove to NIMBLEWILL
GAP ROAD.  
started hiking around 9am.  stunning day, cool and breezy in the shade,
warm and 
breezy in the sun.  took my time, met a few people, and hiked the last
mile to 
SPRINGER MOUNTAIN, the southern terminus of the APPALACHIAN TRAIL, with a
fellow 
named HOOZ (pronounced HOSS with an ending Z sound).  the view was
outstanding.  
many people at the summit, day hikers and thru-hikers.  this is a
spiritual place 
for many.  continued on to SPRINGER MOUNTAIN SHELTER to read the register
and relax.  
neither PETE nor JANE signed the register, so they must have skipped the
shelter.  
entries in the register date from march 2nd.  left the shelter around 1pm
heading 
back.  i quickly realized that i had planned too many miles for my 2nd
day of hiking, 
but when you are day hiking, you have no choice but to make it back.  you
smile and 
sing and try to forget the ankle pain and the tightening calf muscles.  i
was also 
running low on water, and had only a banana to eat.  at BLACK GAP
SHELTER, one mile 
south of SPRINGER MOUNTAIN, there was a family of 4 eating lunch.  time
to test my 
yogi-ing skills (passive mooching).  we talked about the trail and about
there hike 
and about my hike and finally they offered me some food, beef jerky and
hard candy.  
i was happy and grateful, and it improved my stamina and outlook.  i
continued on.  
up the trail is a good water source, a spring.  i will drink from
springs, not from 
streams, but springs.  i gorged myself with water and filled my container
to the brim.  
this also improved my stamina and outlook.  but the trail continued to
take its toll.  
i got off of the trail and onto a forest road, thinking that it would
save me some 
miles.  a mile or two later, a kind hearted fellow, in a pickup truck,
with his wife 
and baby, explained to me that this road did not go where i thought it
did.  i hopped 
into the back of the truck, and he drove me back to the trail.  fatigued,
but in good 
spirits after laughing about my unusually poor sense of direction, i
continued down 
the trail.  i got off of the trail again for another road walk, but this
time i knew 
i was going the proper direction.  a couple of miles down, a forest
ranger picked me 
up.  he had some backcountry rounds to do, so we talked and talked, and
eventually we 
made it back to my van.  apparently there is going to be a backcountry
lodge at 
AMICALOLA FALLS STATE PARK that will be accessible to the public only
with a 5-1/2 
mile hike.  the lodge will be staffed and open year round, beginning
april 1998.  
my friends at ROPER should have an interest in this.  anyway, i survived
the hike, 
but the story is not over...
	i was very fatigued, and did not wish to cook my own supper, so i
drove to 
DAHLONEGA and got something to eat there.  i then drove to WOODY GAP,
near SUCHES, 
to set up camp for the night.  on last years hike, i slept in the van. 
this year, 
the van is full, and i must pitch a tent.  darkness was coming, the winds
were 
whipping, but after much foolishness my tent was up and i crawled inside.
 the 
winds kept whipping, and the rain started to fall, but i survived the
night...

MARCH 31, 1997 - MONDAY

	it was very cold this morning.  my hands were freezing as i broke
camp, so 
i just threw everything in the van.  i drove to the WALMART in DAHLONEGA
to get a 
new sleeping pad.  the one i have is not sufficient...
	i drove to GOOCH GAP and waited until about 11am for enough
warmth to start 
hiking.  it is a cold day.  heading south for a mile or so, i ran into
JANE.  she 
was in a funk and did not know why.  we hiked back to GOOCH GAP together.
 it was a 
short mileage day for her, but she didn't want to go further.  we drove
to SUCHES so 
she could make a phone call and buy some rice.  i checked my messages. 
no messages.  
went back to GOOCH GAP and set up camp, ate an early supper, got a
campfire going and 
relaxed.  just before dark we put out the fire and retired to our tents. 
the wind 
were periodically strong.  around 9pm, after some shut eye, JANE noticed
that the 
fire had flared up again.  it was cold and windy, but i forced myself out
of my tent 
and gave the fire another good dose of water.  then i saw it!  HALE-BOPP!
 my first 
sighting.  outstanding...

APRIL 1, 1997 - TUESDAY

	very cold again this morning.  didn't want to get out of the bag,
but my 
bladder had different ideas.  got a fire going, then JANE decided to
emerge.  
interesting how that happened.  hiked with jane to WOODY GAP.  PETE was
there!  
we had a nice discussion.  he was in good spirits and is enjoying the
hike.  turns 
out he had also spent the night in GOOCH GAP, but on the other side of
the road.  
met a fellow there by the name of PAT that had blown out his knee (ouch).
 he was 
looking for a ride to an ATM and a hospital.  I told him to wait a few
hours and 
i'd be back for him.  i hiked back to GOOCH GAP and then drove back to
WOODY GAP.  
we drove into DAHLONEGA and got him taken care of.  he is off of the
trail for the 
rest of the year, but has agreed to join the SLACKPACK TOUR helping with
the support. 
 interesting how things work out here.  having a sedate night at the days
inn in 
DAHLONEGA after pigging out at pizza hut...


Rick Mann, aka Uncle Rick, aka Pittsburgh
slackpacker@juno.com
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