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[at-l] Solophile Journal Entries [Jun10-17]

Below are the rest of the Solophile entries that I've received.
It's a good thing I don't type with just one hand or I'd look
a whole lot like a fiddler crab by now...


June 10 - Day 92
12.5 mi to campsite on Franklin Cliffs - 896.6 cum

Today we did what's called a Grand Slam on the AT - We hiked 2 miles to Lewis
Mtn Campground for a breakfast of cereal, danishes and coffee.  We then hiked
9 miles to the Big Meadows Wayside Restaurant where I enjoyed a Reuben sandwich
and some beers.  Then it was another short hike up to the lodge where we did
laundry, got showers, and had a VERY nice dinner complete with lots of fresh
warm rolls, a cafe latte, and some excellent cherry cobbler a la mode.

It was a bit of a struggle to hike at all after dinner, but we managed to
roll on down the trail for another 1.5 miles before setting up camp.  We had a
great spot overlooking Franklin Cliffs and enjoyed an absolutely wonderful

Got to meet some new hikers during the day today - Cheesehead from Wisconsin
and a section-hiker by the name of Bubbles.  Cheesehead had started a
thru-hike in '96 and had to pull off in Waynesboro for injures.  He's back
out this year to finish where he left off.

June 11 - Day 93
17.2 mi to Pass Mtn Hut - 913.8 cum

I awoke with the sun today, stepped outside my tent, and walked about 15 feet
to a stone outcropping overlooking the Shenandoah Valley to the west.  From
my vantage point I could watch the progress of the sun spreading out across
the valley as I sipped my hot chocolate and ate my breakfast.  The air was
filled with birdsong - the downward spiraling flute-like sond of the Veery,
the etheral sounds of the Wood Thrush, the insistent urging ofthe Towhee to
"Drink you tea!", and the sweet trill of the Junco.

It was a great start to send me on my way and things only got better.  Within
an hour of leaving camp I heard some loud noises up a hillside to my right.
I stopped to look and spotted a large black bear.  It was about 25 feet away
amidst some dense vegitation.  It had definitely spotted Micah and me.  Its
head was raised and it was taking in great breaths of air and letting the air
gust out the sides of its mouth.  I stood in awe and finally remembered to
take a picture.  We stood for a few more moments of mutual inspection and
then the bear seemed to get a little agitated.  With no real warning, it
charged down the hill towards me!  I stood my ground (more out of shock than
rational thought), and it halted its charge about 15 feet short of me.  I
decided this was an excellent time to take my leave and started talking to
it in a loud voice as MIcah and I slowly backed down the trail.  I was
shaking by now and the bear continued to parallel us for a short distance
before finally heading on up the hill.

The rest of the day was extremely uneventful by comparison.  I enjoyed a
long lunch and some pretty intensive questioning by tourists at Stony Man
Cliffs.  The shelter is pretty crowded, so a lot of us are tenting.  Here
tonight: Cakes & Flapjack, Little Toe, Pockets, Bubbles and family, FireBall
and Cheesehead.

June 12 - Day 94
13.2 to Gravel Springs Hut - 927.0 cum

I went to bed before the sun last night and was able to get a solid 10 hours
of sleep.  It really felt good and made a big difference in my hike today.  I
really enjoyed the hike today, mostly because of Bubble's and Cheesehead's
company and conversation.

It was an extremely leisurely day with a long lunch break for a cheeseburger
and fries at Elkwallow Wayside.  Even with the long break, our little convoy
arrived at the shelter by 3pm.  We even got to see a bear cub today as it
scampered up the hillside.

A few showers today, but at least it's warm.  There are 15+ people here, so
I'm tenting.  Lots of bears have been sighted in this area, so I'm glad for
Micah's company.

Tomorrow we're planning 18+ miles, so I'm off to bed early tonight.

June 13 - Day 95
13.6 to Front Royal - 940.6 cum

Bubbles and I had agreed to get an early start and true to word, we were on
the trail by 6:40am!  That's the earliest start for me in weeks.  We had an
absolutely great hike together.  It had been a while since I had laughed so
hard while hiking.

Bubbles was only headed 8 miles to Compton Gap where she and her parents
were to be leaving the trail.  I was going to continue on 6 more miles to the
road crossing to Front Royal, and then Bubbles and her parents were going to
give Fireball and me a shuttle ride into Linden for a maildrop pickup and
then to a motel in Front Royal.

My maildrop was a good one.  I had letters from my Dad, Andy, and Robby Cahill.
My packages included a goodie-box from Randy and Georgene Blankley loaded
with great snacks.  Most of the snacks were eaten before we even made it to the

A day off tomorrow - YEAH!

June 14 - Day 96
0 miles

A day off in Front Royal!  We spent a good part of the day wondering around
town in search of fresh fruit.  Our quest was a success and for lunch we
feasted on about 5 pounds of fruit salad and baguettes with butter.  I was
in heaven!  Cantaloupe, pineapple, kiwi, strawberries, bananas, crenshaw
melon, grapes...  I'd been craving fruit for quite some time and I finally
got my "fix."

On the way back to the motel, we ran into Dwight.  I first met Dwight at Mt
Rogers and I'm always bumping into him.  He's a photographer that's
traveling the length of the trail in a vehicle made by International back
in 1969.  It's quite an interesting machine and suits Dwight perfectly.  He's
a very soft-spoken man with a long white beard, graying shoulder-lenght hair,
and blue eyes.  He originally planned on hiking the trail but soon discovered
that an 80+ pound pack loaded with camera gear didn't make for a fun trip.
He now travels by car and day hikes on the trail with his equipment.  He's
hoping to get some of his work into the ATC calendar.

Dwight seems to have a special affinity for Micah and he always stops to chat
whenever he sees us.  Micah usually ends up getting a treat in the deal.
This time I also got a ride back to the motel and Dwight also offered to
shuttle us the 5 miles back to the trail tomorrow morning too.  It's good
to have friends along the way!

June 15 - Day 97
15.5 mi to Dick's Dome Shelter - 956.1 cum

A great hiking day!  Dwight picked us up at the motel as promised and we
were on the trail by 9:45 after chowing down the last of our Fruit Salad
Supreme.  We had beautiful blue skies, temps in the 70's, and a wonderful
section of trail to tread.

FireBall and I hiked together today, which is something we don't do very
often.  We had a good time trading stories and telling odd jokes.  There
were tons of flowers to grab our attention today.  That was one thing that
was noticably absent from Shenandoah National Park.

At one point today we passed a little pond whose surface was choked with
algae and banks a muddy expanse.  At first glance it just seemed like a
dead, mud-choked oversized puddle, but as we stopped to look the pond
came to life.  We spotted two absoutely huge bullfrogs sitting half in/
half out of the water.  Between them a form suddenly moved and became
some type of soft shell looking turtle that swam off into the muddy depths.
Fish where hanging in the water just below the surface and we also saw two
water moccasins going about their pond patrol.  The larger of the two made
an attempt at some tadpoles as we watched and created quite a little
commotion in that section of the pond.

We're here tonight at Dick's Dome Shelter with Bulldog and Aquaholic.
Aquaholic is originally  from Indiana, then moved to West Virginia as a
white-water rafting guide, and he's also keeping a journal on the web
through Wingfoot's web page.

We got in early enough today for me to take my flute to a nearby creek and
play for a while.  I find it really relaxing for me and very much worth
the extra little bit of weight in my pack.

Wildflower report: Hyssop Skullcap, Asiatic Dayflower, Chicory, Moth Mullein,
Yellow Sweet Clover, Rought-fruited Cinquefoil, Lopseed, Ground Ivy,
Deptford Pinks, Evening Lychnis, Crown Vetch.

June 16 - Day 98
15.7 mi to Sam Moore Shelter - 971.8 cum

I think my worst nightmare has come true: I'm back in Georgia - I'm sure of
it!  The trail today absolutely kicked our butts.  I think it was Virginia's
final send-off before we leave her borders.  It wasn't just me, Micah and
FireBall were dragging too.  Id on't think it helped that last night was a
horrible night for sleeping.  the bugs were so bad at Dick's dome that I
finally decided to set my tent up at 11:30 at night after thrashing and
swatting at the little boogers for two hours.

We were tempted to cut our day short at the Glaser Maintenance Hut after
only 7 miles, but we stopped there for a few hours and I was able to catch
a quick nap.  I was also hoping to meet Scott Haberman at the Sam Moore
Shelter.  Scott had written me e-mail one time offering a little trial magic
when I reached his neck of the woods.  I had called his home a few days ago
and just left a phone message with our tenative plans, so I was hoping to
see him this evening.  Sure enough when we pulled into the shelter a little
before 6, there he was with his dog Maggie, a cooler full of beer, pizza,
fresh fruit, and peanut M&Ms.  What a feast!  I had given Aquaholic a heads
up that we might be getting a little trail magic, so he was there too.

Scott stayed until almost dark.  we all drank and ate and talked for a few
hours.  Backpacking was the major topic, of course, but the conversation
definitely wandered at times to everything from racism to body hygene.  :^)
It was a great evening!

June 17 - Day 99
10.7 to Blackburn Center Hostel - 982.5 cum

Another fun day on the trail.  it was only 3 miles to the Bear's Den Hostel,
our first stop of the day.  Bear's Den is a beautiful stone quartzite "castle"
that was originally built in the 1930s and has since been converted into a
hostel by the Appalachian Trail Conference.

At the hostel we met Mushroom, who had thru-hiked in '96 and was back out to
do some section-hiking.  Aquaholic soon pulled in too, and we all bought
some snacks and relaxed on the lawn a while.  After that it was another .6
miles to the road and a 3/4 mile roadwalk to the Pine Grove Restaurant for
a great late breakfast followed by coconut cream pie.  I think the pie was
overdoing it, cause I was MISERABLE as we left the restaurant.  FireBall
and Aquaholic weren't doing much better and we all stopped for a half hour
break at the first creek we came to.

I think a little more digestion time was all we needed because the rest of
the afternoon was a blast.  We all took turns telling jokes, sharing
confessions, and narrating stories.  Aquaholic was extremely impressive as
he knew the entire "Alice's Restaurant" song by Guthrie.  The miles flew
by and we arrived at the Blackburn Center by 5 in very good spirits.

Blackburn is owned by the Potomac AT Club and run by caretakers Geoge
"Travelin Man" and Mary Sue "Shouthern Harp" Roach.  We were greeted by
Walkie Talkie, Cheesehead, and Graybeard.  Within five minutes we had cold
sodas in hand and had been invited to partiake of a spaghettie dinner.  I
got to clean off in the solar shower, pig out on pasta, top my meal off with
ice cream, and enjoy an evening of great company.  Micah wasn't allowed in
the bunk building, but we were very happy just sleeping on the screened in
porch.  Mary Sue brought down some mattresses and Cheesehead, FireBall,
Micah, and I slept on their screened in porch.  As I was falling asleep,
I watched the fireflies sending otu their little love messages against the
backdrop of the forest's blackness.

Andy Markham
Director, Product Development
RelevantKnowledge Inc. (www.relevantknowledge.com)

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