30, 1983 Thursday (1329.8 mtg) From
Gonzo!s Appalachian Trail journal
by the standards set during the last few days on the trail, the
section today was a piece of cake. There were no long up or downhill
sections. The only real problem was tall grass. The problem with
tall grass is interesting. After a rain, and particularly after
a heavy morning dew, tall grass will get your feet more wet than
if you had just been hiking in the rain. Even if it is raining
and you walk through the grass you don't seem to get as wet as the
next morning. Whatever the mechanism, my feet got SOAKED this morning
as I passed through the tall grass covering parts of the trail.
I, and possibly Jody, were the only ones to actually hike the trail
today. The rest chose to follow the parkway to Rockfish Gap. I debated
whether I should take the parkway, but luckily I decided against
it and remained a "purist." Some sections of the trail
provided very slippery rocks that were difficult to navigate due
to the rain, but before I knew it I was at Rockfish Gap wondering
which road to take to find the town of Afton, where my next mail
drop was. I had picked Afton over Waynesboro thinking that Waynesboro
would be too big and spread out to find anything. Afton looked like
a small town, and was just off the trail.
Suddenly a guy in an International Harvester Truck pulled up and
asked if I was a North or South Bounder, and wondered if I needed
a ride down the mountain. I replied that I was in search of the
Afton post office. I looked past the driver and noticed another
hiker sitting in the passenger seat. "What is this all about?"
I thought. The driver said "hop in and I will take you there"
and that was all I needed to hear. I threw my pack into the back
and crawled into the cab next to the other hiker whose name was
I was taken to the post office where I picked up my mail which I
believe was something sent by my sister-in-law, and then driven
to the Waynesboro Fire Station. The driver dropped us off there
Where many hikers spend the night while in town. Then he said that
we were welcome to spend the night at his place. The driver turned
out to be Rusty, the guy who was trying to set up a new hostle at
his residence near the A.T. around Maupin Field. He told me he would
return at around 8.00 pm and take us to his place after we had collected
Tom from somewhere along the parkway inside Shenandoah Park. Sounded
good to me.
groceries at Kroger, called and talked with my mother, and put the
snakeskin I was carrying into some alcohol for preservation. During
the call, which lasted 25 minutes (cost $8.11), arrangements for
our rendezvous were "pinned down" the best they could.
I told them to meet me at Swift Run Overlook. I hoped I could make
it there. The best we could do was to have them enter the park,
then drive down the road until somewhere around Swift Run Gap where
they would find me waiting. Although I bought supplies for the week,
I packed up all that I would need for two days and asked the Fire
Warden if I could leave the rest at the station for a couple of
days and pick it up on Sunday. I only needed to carry two days until
I was to rendezvous with my parents.
8.00 pm, just as he promised, Rusty showed up and picked me up.
He stopped at Kroger's grocery store to pick up some hot dogs, buns,
fresh peaches, and charcoal before driving along the parkway to
pick up Tom. He left me at the ranger's station at the entrance
to the Shenandoah National Park to get my permit so I would not
have to do that the next morning while he went to find Tom. I stayed
at the entry hut with the ranger, whose name was also Alan (Sager)
and talked until Rusty finally returned with Tom in the truck. By
that time the fog had begun to thicken as we made our way to his
home. It was so thick we could barely see the road. We drove for
what seemed many miles before exiting from the good road onto a
rough gravel drive that led to his place in the hollow. He named
the place "Hard Time Hollow." Rusty was a welder who had
developed a passion for hikers and was trying to establish a haven
for hikers to stay. I had read about the place, but very little
had been written about Rusty's place since it was so new. I think
Tom and I were two of the first hikers to stay at the new hostle.
He had no electricity or running water. Refrigeration was provided
by a cool spring near the cabin. We roasted the dogs, and talked
into the night. The meal was topped off with A&W RootBeer, and
fresh peaches. Later, we pulled in a couple of mattresses and went
to sleep full and happy. Saw a wild turkey today.
(Click image for larger view of SNP backcountry permit)
Appalachian Trail Journals ©1983