Appalachian Trail journal

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Week Twenty: Fancy toilets, frat houses and the ultimate "all you can eat" meals

Sunday August 21st, 1983
Wow!, what a big breakfast at Mountain Meadows Inn. If you don't know by now, what I mean is "Thru-hiker Big"! One of the unfortunate things about getting the chance to eat at a place like this is that by the time you are finished, the morning is beginning to dwindle. Apparently this would be another slack-packing day for Rhode Island Red.

Our slack pack began as a day hike from the Inn back to the south and Route 4. Yesterday, in our rush to get to Mountain Meadows Inn, I had skipped the section of the trail that skirted the road. Why? I wanted to get to Mountain Meadows as early as I could as their policy was to give the first thru-hiker who inquired the option of helping out with dinner and sweeping the floor in exchange for a free dinner - I was up for that. But unfortunately we weren't the first so we ended up stacking wood instead.

Once back at the Inn again, I wrote a letter and some post cards and sent them out. By then it was about 3:00pm Not wanting to totally waste the day, we finally got out and hiked a big seven and seven tenths miles to add to the three mile day hike.

In this section of trail the Appalachian Trail makes a departure from the Long Trail it had been sharing the path with since Vermont. I found out that one of the thru-hikers left the A.T. today. I will miss Tim Platts as he has decided to leave the A.T. and continue up The Long Trail from where the two trails diverge. I ran into him at the A.T./Long Trail Junction while I was on my day hike back to the highway. I believe he decided to leave the A.T. and finish the Long trail due to the fact that he would not have enough money to finish the A. T. He figured he had enough for the Long Trail, so at least he could say he had finished that trail.

Tonight we stayed at Stoney Brook shelter.

On to Cloudland Shelter tomorrow to see the much talked about Avril Privy.

Monday August 22nd, 1983
Slogged into Cloudland Shelter after a soggy day of hiking. Alan has not gotten in yet and it is 6:34pm. This was not unusual, we usually hiked separately, but met up at the same shelters when we hiked together. The same was true for Paul Nichols, or just about any other hiker I might have hiked with.

I had to laugh when I read the following sign posted in the shelter by Eric Olson, who is now ahead of me on the trail.

1 (one) Marcel Montville aka - Chippy- Derived from unusual capacity of eating food and storing in cheeks for winter.
aka - Diesel Spoon - Named for non-stop blur of utensil motion while feeding.
aka - Fart Breath - Speech and gas have same effect on one's nasal passage.
Wanted by: Federal Government and Julia Child for flagrant abuses of standard ethical, societal feeding practices and anal reverberations soon following.

Often accompanied by
Alan Savage: aka - Doc Savage the "G" Magnet who's got short shorts. Heard to apply daily applications of Nair on legs to remove hair and reduce wind resistance.

Consider both Montville and Savage farted and dangerous.
Montville's secret weapon is Ramen meal while Savage's forte is dried apricots.

Do Not Attempt to Apprehend
Unless willing to suffer nasal consequences. If sighted please notify bounty hunters Berlin and Olson who have done irreparable damage to their olfactory nerves already and besides have a score to settle for a particularly nasty night at Pico Camp. A rebuttal is in order. Oh yes, Avril Privy is beautiful.

Oh yes, Averil Privey was tops! The privy was a gorgeous hexagonal structure whose lower section was constructed of varnished hardwood up to about three feet. Atop that were sections was Plexiglas or Lexan, and screen - so you could see the view while doing your business. The roof was also made of Plexiglas - so the sun could stream in. There was a cork board inside - so as you were seated you could peruse the various massages, catch up on the latest trail news, or post your own. A bit of whimsy amidst the austerity.

Had a troop of scouts come in tonight after I finished my log entry, and from then on camp seemed like Grand Central Station. As with many Boy Scout troops, the kids slept in tents. By this time of the trip the quiet of solitary hiking made me less tolerant of loud noises and the bustle that had pervaded my life in the city. When something like this large raucous groups of children invaded, that quiet was shattered. Kids dashed around camp in endless fervour performing their self-appointed tasks. With trees to cut, fires to build, tents to erect (only to collapse upon
themselves) and large cooking pots to fill with gallons of who knows what, the area became the embodiment of mayhem. To their credit they were quite respectful of our presence, and did not bother us directly.

One of the kids managed to slit his hand open with his sheath knife…what excitement. When I heard of the cut I did amble down to see if they were in need of first aid, but the laceration looked toi me to be superficial, and my presence was not needed. I believe that one of the scout masters eventually escorted him out to a hospital to get stitched up.

Rained most of the day.

(Two views from "The Lookout") (Farm along Lookout Road)

(Signs about gun safety along VT rt 12) (Sign about the first ski tow)

Tuesday August 23rd, 1983
All that excitement last night was too much for me, I bailed out of camp early this morning.

The miles went by all too fast, and before I knew it I was on the bridge over the Connecticut River. The bridge was an inauspicious end to Vermont and beginning for New Hampshire. Whenever I think of those two states I think of mountains, notches and trees lots of trees but two lane highways on a modern bridge does not a picture make. I knew that from here on the trail would be wilder and that was why I had begun this trip from the beginning. From here to Katahdin would be strenuous, glorious and exhilarating, but first it was time to enjoy the hospitality of Hanover and Dartmouth College. The thought of being in New Hampshire made me smile, I was now in New Hampshire, my back yard.

The trail follows the road over the bridge and into the town of Hanover and pretty much right into the center of Dartmouth College. I met a south bound thru-hiker at about twelve noon, and we spent some time trading information before we each set out on our quests in opposite directions. For me, at the moment, it was finding a place to stay. I stumbled upon Bruce and Eric. They pointed me to the best frat house to stay in, and after settling in a bunch of thru-hikers and I went to Thayer Hall for the $6:00 all you can eat (AYCE) dinner - and we ATE for 2½ hours! Just imagine.... the meal included ice Cream! And lots of it! I felt old when I looked around at all the other college kids around. At age twenty-six, I believe that I was "the older guy" in our thru-hiker group as well.

Dartmouth is a very nice college town, and they cater to hikers, or at least outdoorsmen, such that I could have been able to pick up a new mini-pump and cap for my stove. But as it happens, I had another pump set up sent to me from home when I noticed the problem beginning. After a while the mini pump fuel cap that screwed in place of the original fuel cap would not fully hold the pressure and leak, causing the flame to be less intense and forcing me to pump it up now and then while the stove was running to keep constant pressure in the fuel tank.

Called Dia tonight and she is bummed out because she won't see me at Gene's in North Woodstock, New Hampshire. Gene is a world class chef and owner of The Scottish Inn in North Woodstock. Dia and I befriended him years before on a hike in the White Mountains. In the winter of 1982 I ate at his establishment and mentioned that I would be hiking the A.T. in 1983 upon which he invited me to stay in one of his cabins for free if I decided to take a break from the A.T. in Franconia Notch. The trouble is that North Woodstock is quite a ways away from the trail crossing, so I don't really know if I want to take the time to hitch there and back.

(Crossing the Connecticut River from Vermont into New Hampshire)

Wednesday August 24th, 1983
I met Alan at the AYCE breakfast at Thayer Hall this morning for another amazing meal. Today I took the time to mail my summer fashions home, pick up some groceries and just hang around. Even though it has only been one day off, I will be glad to get back on the A.T.

Well here I am writing my entry at the Phi Sigma Psi frat house. When I arrived yesterday, I was greeted by one of the frat house kids and was told that I could sleep in the parlour on the floor. I guess that all of the bedrooms were taken. The kids had their own agendas so I have been treated with indifference. So far I have had the privilege of being the only hiker sleeping on their floor these past two nights.

I've been thinking about Tim Platts and his deviation to "The Long" ever since I crossed the junction of the A.T. and the Long Trail. I have been considering finishing the Long Trail after Katahdin, but the big problems are my job and of course, money. These are obstacles in many ways more formidable than the AT. I had been laid off from my job - just as had happened in the previous year, and they said that they would call me back when work picked up. Frankly, I didn't care if they did or not - my first priority was to finish what I had started and let the chips fall as they may. As far as money, I had saved up $2000.00 to do this and I sensed funds were getting short. I had figured that if $2000.00 was good enough for Ed Garvey than it was good enough for me; unfortunately, I didn't factor in for inflation. Maybe I can borrow from Sonny because I know he will understand. The trail is coming to an end soon and I am not ready to give up my freedom.

Tomorrow John, Bruce and I will be leaving, but Alan plans to stay one more day.

Thursday August 25th, 1983
Another tough day - Yah, right!. I had all of my stuff packed and ready, and was headed out the door. Just three steps from the house I ran into Damien (Paul) and decided to stay another day with Paul and Alan. I must leave tomorrow though - tomorrow is boogie time.

I spent the day just puttered around town and catching up on trail news as Paul and I compared notes on what we had done since we last saw each other. I ate another boatload of food at Thayer Hall. That was a treat. I found that I wasn't concerned about wimping out in a town anymore. I now had the discipline to move along on my own free will, and was sure of myself. The people that lacked the mental discipline had already gone home by now, and barring any unforeseen circumstances me, and all of those around me would make it to the northern terminus. Looking back, I could now see that at the beginning of the journey most people that drop off do so because of either health reasons, or they cannot handle the physical exersion or pressure that hiking demands of their bodies. Once the body becomes adapted to the rigors of trail life, it becomes a mental game to make it through the mid-states. At the end, both body and mind function as one to carry us to the end.

Paul shared the floor at the frat house with me tonight, and we all showered at the Dartmouth Outing Club (DOC) facilities.

Still thinking of the Long Trail.

Friday August 26th, 1983
To make sure I got out of Dodge, I woke up and was out by 5:30am. Damien, who departed with me, had a pretty uneventful day. The temperature was hot and humid. One noticeable change is that I can tell that we are in New Hampshire because the terrain is tougher. I don't know how many miles I did today because the data book indicates seventeen and a half miles, the sign at this shelter says fifteen point two, and the map says thirteen miles, so your guess is as good as mine. It didn't surprise me that none of the mileages corresponded. The DOC took care of this portion of the trail, and yes the markers were fewer, but on the other hand it was difficult to wander off of the trail because it was so worn from foot traffic. I had found mileage discrepancies in the White Mountains while on other trips, and I was told that the DOC and the White Mountain National Forest Service (WMNF) signs were carved by state prisoners at the correctional facility. The prisoners didn't want to do the job so they purposely mis-marked the signs to get even with the prison system. Of course that was all hearsay.

I wrote a rebuttal to Eric's comments at Cloudland Shelter in the register here. Too bad he is ahead. Alan just got in. I am at Trapper John Shelter tonight and hoping to have a nice sleep - if the mosquitoes will let me.

I don't remember this section as being particularly buggier than any other; however, the presence of mosquitoes brings back a memory of while hiking in Massachusetts and meeting some fine young ladies who were on horseback. I gave up the trail to the horses to allow them to pass, and the ladies stopped to chat with me. On particularly hot days such as that day, I would remove my shirt and hike bareback. I would use my shirt to fan my head and top torso while walking in order to keep the mosquitoes from landing on my head and shoulders. It also provided a bit of breeze. The ladies had noticed this and they asked if I thought the bugs horrendous; to which I replied, "They aren't bothering me as much as they are your horses". We all looked, and there was a cloud, litterally hundreds, of mosquitoes and flies swarming around the animal's snouts. The lead girl quickly said that "she couldn't understand how I could stand being out there with no shirt on, kicked their horses sides, and thundered off at high speed to rid themselves of the voracious insect swarm.

Another strategy to rid myself of bugs was to hike quickly and out-distance them, but there were always others to take over the chase; however, if I did hike quickly enough they had little chance to land and bite.

Saturday August 27th, 1983
Saturday today…. And well, I guess I missed another Bugs Bunny Show. Comparing my old sedate lifestyle with my current life every Saturday I would watch cartoons, but not so lately. Today, a good portion of my day consisted of the whopping eleven miles up and over Smart Mountain today. Doesn't really sound like much, but the climbs and descent were killers! It did not help that the day was hot and humid, plus I hear thunder. The wind is picking up, and the temperature is cooling down which is a sure indication of rain. The fire tower on Smarts presented a beautiful countryside and the view from the nearby shelter was magnificent as well. This area had drastic elevation changes and was thickly wooded. I had never been on this section of trail in New Hampshire and had in the past wondered what it was like South of the WMNF. I must say that it didn't disappoint as this is what I like. When I hike through this type of terrain I feel separated from civilization, that I could melt into the forest, and never be tracked. It's a feeling of comfort like a blanket wrapped around me on a cold winter's eve. A feeling of protection from the rest of the world. Vermont made me feel this way too.

Damien, Al and I are staying Mount Cube Shelter, a dilapidated shelter, and I hope that it is water tight. We have been doing crap mileage because we want to get into Glencliff, New Hampshire Monday for our Post office drop. Going farther would ony put us there on Sunday when it is not open.

We met a south bounder named Ron, from New York City, who seemed like a very nice guy. It sounds kind of strange, but I paid little attention to South bounders except to trade for information of trail conditions ahead. The information trade was automatic between thru-hikers, and there was no need to even ask. It just happened. I don't exactly remember, but I believe that I met him on the trail and not at the shelter.

Tomorrow we climb Mt. Cube and descend upon the Mount Cube Sugar House for Pancakes.


Gonzo! Appalachian Trail Journals ©1983