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Week Seven: Entering Virginia, the fourth state

Sunday May 22nd, 1983
Woke up sick today, and didn't start hiking until noon. I hiked seven easy miles and was exhausted even after such a short distance. I believe I have contracted Giardia. My symptoms include lack of strength, fever, and Diarrhea. Claudia gave me some Streptomycin to help me through whatever it is. I managed to end my day at Laurel Fork shelter, but felt like shit most fo the day.

Monday May 23rd, 1983
I feel a bit stronger this morning so I'll try to hike to Watauga Lake Shelter today (10.4 miles). Near Watauga lake, the trail passes directly beside a small grocery store. I stopped for a coke and potato chips before proceeding to a camping area on Watauga Lake where I shaved, washed my upper body and my hair, cleaned my feet and washed some clothes. The antibiotic seems to be helping, and I feel better every hour. Maybe tomorrow I can put in a normal day. That would be a good morale booster!

I arrived at the Watauga Lake shelter at 6:00pm. This shelter is nice and new, in fact it smells of cedar. It is 7:00pm and no one has stopped in for the night. Ah, a night of solitude at long last!

Tuesday May 24th, 1983
Woke up at 6:00am and was out by 6:45. The day turned out to be lovely. Birds sang serenades to me all day and I felt invigorated. I passed a stone monument to an old hermit named Nick Grindstaff some time today, but was not that interested as all I was realy interested in was getting closer to Damascus and any package that surely awaited me at the post office. Considering the low mileage days days I had just experienced, I felt good about putting in some heavy miles - especially ones that came as easily as these. Today I hiked 21 miles and the feeling was awesome! I dropped into Double Springs Shelter at 5:30pm to find that I had caught up with Claudia. We spent the night with the shelter all to ourselves. Tomorrow I say goodbye to North Carolina and Tennessee, and hello to Virginia and the town of Damascus.

(Watauga Lake from spillway access) (Construction near dam, Watauga lake) (View from Iron Mountain Shelter)

Wednesday May 25th, 1983
I did 19 easy miles today with no problems, so I think that I'm cured. I had my first hot lunch of the trip at Abington Gap Shelter to celebrate my good health, and the milestone of reaching Virginia. Three states down and eleven more to go!

I strolled into town at 4:00pm, which was just in time to get my package from the post office, and then proceeded to "The Place" to find Diane, Fish, Larry "The Keystone Kid" Parker, Smitty, Claudia, Frank "The Merry Slav" Krajcovic, Steve Rohrbeck and Pat Guthrie (the lady from Canada). "The Place" was a hostel set up to house hikers and bikers run by one of the local churches. We had a pudding fest, drank wine and told trail tales 'till 11:00pm. I also bought groceries and took a shower before retiring, while others performed other necessities. We quickly became a close knit group and called ourselves "The Clan".

I will stay one more night before heading out.

(State Line Virginia/Tennessee)

Thursday May 26th, 1983
Pat got up early and headed up the trail. The three musketeers - Diane, Fish, and The Keystone Kid left at about 11:00am, but before they departed we all pigged out on my mom's prune bread and some leftover goodies from my Elk Park care package. Everyone took out their cameras for group photos of "The Clan" and exchanged each other's addresses and phone numbers. We also made plans to meet in Boston after Katahdin for a good time. Wonder if it will ever happen.

(The 'Clan" outside "The Place") (Claudia Gross getting her hair cut by hiker Frank Krajcovick)

Did laundry, wrote letters and post cards, and will try calling the folks today also.

I believe it was Diane that bought some feathered roach clips in town, passed them around to those in our "group" - and “The Clan” began. As she handed them out, and I was surprised that she considered me as part of her group. She was hiking mostly with The Keystone Kid and Fish. (2016 note: They soon outdistanced me and stayed ahead through to the end but somehow those feathers kept me connected. I kept them till they fell apart from rain and sun. At some point much later in the trip I forwarded post cards to them in Monson saying where I was and wishing them a great day up Katahdin.)

Claudia, Smitty, Frank, and Steve are also leaving tomorrow. I was told that there are no shelters for at least 26 miles out of town so it's tenting tomorrow night. I weighed in at 160 pounds today and hopefully declining.

The "Awesome Robots" showed up at the hostel tonight and told me that they had gone to a mountain music festival in a nearby town and had a terrific time. They are from Massachusetts and are quite a pair.

Friday May 27th, 1983
Slept late this morning and was on the trail by 9:00am, and it felt good. Today was another perfect day - cool and sunny. The trail was easy so 18 miles was no burden. I am hiking with Frank "The Merry Slav" Krajcovic whom I met at the hostel. He has lived all over the country even though he is only 26 years of age. He told me that he wrote a book, but could not find anyone to publish it. The book is a satire on baseball - he is a baseball fan.

(2016 note: Frank was, and still is a quiet and soft spoken person. Intelligent, calm, and independent - with a dry sense of humour. Loved to read, and definitely loved baseball. Whenever I spoke to him he always struck me as someone who thought much more than he spoke. You could almost see his brain working. As a hiker, he would hike in the morning, then take a loooong pause around noon to read, and then hike late into the evening to his destination. I believe that at this point I was still looking for a hiking partner, although finding one became less and less important as time wore on. Clearly he was smitten with Claudia, and would have rather hiked with her than me anyway.)

A portion of the trail intersects with what used to be the A.T. in this area, but is now the Virginia Creeper Trail. The trail follows an old reailroad bed, and some of the bridges are nicely built. Tonight we are camped at the base of WhiteTop Mountain so we can hit the five thousand foot peak early in the morning before it gets too warm. After that, the rest of the day will be cake!

(Bridge over Laurel Creek) (Sign on bridge)

Saturday May 28th, 1983
Hiked up to WhiteTop quite early this morning and got a splendid view of the countryside. The A.T. is packed with people since it is Saturday, but fortunately most were headed south. Encountered trail crews fixing up the trail and thanked them all for their help. Today was partly cloudy and it only began raining later in the afternoon, but the views were tremendous. Most of the day was spent hiking in grassy, overgrown fields with huge granite outcroppings. Made 21 long miles to Old Orchard Shelter, and the bottoms of my feet can feel it. Did not see any wild horses, but the grassy fields were endless where they supposedly ran free.

(panoramic view from WhiteTop Mountain)


Gonzo! Appalachian Trail Journals ©1983