Appalachian Trail journals

1983 Journal

1981 Prequel

Contact Gonzo!

Trail Museum

appalachian trail online book

Below are just a few of the emails I have received from readers after visiting my 1983 "All In One Roll" trail journal/online book:
unfortunately I only started collecting them recently, many older ones have been lost. Thanks to all those who take the time to contact read and contact me.

Alan ... er, Gonzo,

I am Shawn Jarman, remembered by you as one of the "Fatheads". I was talking with a friend recently, speculating on what we would find if each of us Googled ourselves on the internet. He said I might be surprised (pleasantly or otherwise) at "what's out there". So I typed my name in, hit the button and your web site came up. Just reading your journal entries brought back many pleasant memories: the lean-tos, Krogering, the elephant lynching (not so pleasant), and "Anglehead" among many others. When I got to July 5th, imagine my extreme surprise to learn I was mentioned by name, and a picture as well !!! It made me realize, I have forgotten so much...

You mentioned frying a steak for yourself using my already running stove. Funny thing, I not only still have that stove, but I hauled it out of the shed and fired it up not two weeks ago, out of curiosity to see if it still worked. It was if 28 years had not even happened; it worked just as well as ever! Made me want to boil up some Ramen noodles, melt some cheese into it, stir in some sauteed "ramps" (remember?) and have an "AT feast" just for the memories.

Many thanks to you for your wonderful web site, keeping alive special memories for all of us who have hiked on the AT. I hope the years since then have been kind to you, and wish you well. I think I'll go home after work tonight and fire up that stove again!

Shawn Jarman


Hi, I found your report about your 1983 AT Hike. I have only read a few pages but wanted to let you know how much I am enjoying it.


I really enjoyed your trail journal of the AT. I am taking my son on our first backpacking trip on the Knobstone Trail in Indiana in Sept. We have hiked before but not overnight.
My goal is to one day hike the AT, but it may have to wait until I retire…..

Thank You for sharing your experiences.


Hello Gonzo. I will make this email brief and will keep in touch if you like. The A.T. has been my passion since about 1970 when I first started reading about it in high school. I found your journal today and was flabbergasted on how we both used the same Vasque boots and read alot of stuff on Ed Garvey. I through hiked the A.T. in 1981 leaving on March 29th. I will be getting to know you by reading your journal in the next few days. I seemed to have a connection with you immediatly upon reading a few pages of your journal. I have my 1981 journal online also with pictures which were taken by a 110 camera. Times sure have changed on the trail in the last 30 years. I rehiked the A.T beginning in 2004 and finished it in 2006. I did my second trip from north to south and used the same Kelty frame pack I used in 1981.


Hi Gonzo, I am a 71 year old grandma. I found your journal online and am reading it a few pages a day. I really look forward to it. I envy you the trip. It seems like something I would like. I live in PA and very close to Moyers Grove Campground where you stayed. I wish you well and thank you for sharing your experience with me. Good wishes and health. Carol


Hi, Alan!
First of all, let me to say: thank you very much for yours great website.. Story about your hike in 1983 inspired me to do the same in 2006. I'v red it before my hike, I'm reading after. I red a lot of stories, but yours will be always my favorite. I started AT on May 15th 2006. I do not finished my journey in 2006, because I broke my ankle near Zealand Hut, NH on ugust 29th. This 2008 year is my year. I klimbed Baxter Peak on September 9th after month of hiking NH and ME.


Just wanted to let you know that I really enjoyed spending the last few days reading your journal. I was out on the AT this morning on a little training expedition out of PenMar Park and I had a great time remembering some of your tales as I walked. Someone was even setting up for a picnic and I was tempted to see what I could "Yogi" out of them!




Howdy,Lewis In Buford,Ga...have started hiking lately..just tooling around..found your story........quite the adventure...thanks


I am one of what I can only assume would be thousands of people that have dreamt of an A.T. thru-hike but I still have not made that dream a reality. First I must congratulate you on your trail journal and website. It is one of the most complete and detailed journals that I have read, and I have definitely read many. I guess Im hoping that you can lend some advice on how to turn my dream into a reality. Ive read all the books and done all the research but yet I still haven't actually gotten into the car and had someone drop me off in Georgia with my backpack yet. Do you find any common reasons that people don't just do it? And if so what advice would you be able to give for me to able to get over it and just do it. I know you must get many many people emailing you everyday about A.T. stuff but if you have the time to respond I would be forever grateful.



Hi Gonzo,
I enjoyed reading your journal and picked up a lot of useful information from it. In those early planning / dreaming days I found your journal and Brawny's to be the most useful in information and pleasurable reading - which helped me mentally prepare for the hike. So I just wanted to let you know.


I have read every syllable that you have written about your 1983 hike and I am absolutely without words.
I have been a resident of Northeast Tennessee all of my life. I live about 45 minutes from Roan mountain, and about 45 minutes from Damascus Virginia. I was a weekend and "extended trip" hiker for years, but the curse of age and life have caused me to not be able to do the entire trip.
I was a new high school graduate in 1983 and chose to join the Navy instead of going to college. While you were hiking, I was running in circles, trying to figure out what to do with my life.
I feel like you did the trip "for me", and I am forever appreciative.
I have done many cumulative miles on our AT, but I never had the time or the means to throw everything to the wind and just do it all.
Your site is "bookmarked" and I will be re-visiting it from now on.
You are my personal hero, and I appreciate you're sharing your experiences with me. Congratulations, Sir!! You are "The Man"!!



Hello, my name is Tim, I live and work in Rhode Island and have always had a interest in the AT . I found your trail log on the internet and I have been reading it for a while now. I wanted to let you know its been great reading your daily experiences on the hike. It has given me numerous temporary escapes at my desk during work. I envy you and your experience on the AT. Just thought I would take a shot to see if this email address is still active. Thank you for writing this , its the best one I have read,including books on the AT.

How can I obtain a copy of your book?

I am both a collector of AT memoirs and maintain a bibliography of them .


Hi Gonzo!

I was just google-ing and came across your AT hike website. It's great - you wrote a wonderful journal. I'm heading out the first of April to thru-hike with my friend Marc - we're from Springfield. It's great to hear about another Illinoisian that made the trek.



I found your site online, and wanted to send you a message to say Hi.

My name is Jeff, and I was a Caretaker at Stratton Pond in the sumer
of 1983. We talked on August 11, according to your journal. I have to
say that 1000's of people go through Stratton Pond every summer, so
I'm not sure that I remember you, but your picture does look familiar.

It was really great to read your journal. I recognized some of the
names, but you started later than most people, so you didn't run into
a lot of the "characters" from that year. Your description of
"Pigmania" reminded me of the Pigs games from the year before that
were immortalized in the song "Appalachian Pie". I'm not sure who
wrote it, but it was all about AT Through hikers. It was sung to the
tune of "American Pie". The chorus went like this:

Ouch, ouch, my feet are so sore.
Wish I could be like Warren and do 20 more
and Andy and Bernie playing Pigs on the floor
singing this is the day the blazes ended,
this is the day the blazes ended.

I was the caretaker at Griffith Lake in 1982, and I had the song
transcribed in my log book. Unfortunately, someone took out that page.
Warren was Doyle (of course). Andy and Bernie were Kelly and Borelli
(or Bonelli?), the ones credited with starting the Pigs craze.

Thanks a lot for your journal. I can't believe it's been 25 years!



I just finished your story on the Internet. Pissed away about 2 days of productivity on the clock, but oh well. Great story and some nice pics to go along with it. Thanks for taking the time to share your experience with those of us too busy at this point in our lives to take 6 months off for a real challenge.



I just wanted to write and say thank you for putting your journal of your travels on the AT online (and thank your boss for he server space). I grew up on the East Coast, in central NJ, and was always cognicent of the AT, and during a day camp when I was 11 or 12 we spent two days on the AT in the Sunfish Pond/Catfish Tower area. Since that time I have moved to the midwest and life has gone on, but it is still a dream of mine to hike the AT, to have that freedom and have nobody to answer to but myself and the trail. Reading about your time on the trail, which began at a time that I was less than a month old, has renewed that dream and I wanted to thank you for that.



Thanks Gonzo! That was an awesome read! I just spent 5-6 hours reading your entire saga. I really loved how you documented your travel on the AT one day at a time and then backed it up with photos dedicated to that day! I have read 4-5 thru hike journals now, and yours was the best designed, and the best told. What an inspirational journey. I'm a "wannabe" at this point. I have hiked and lived on the Na Pali coast for 4-5 months, back around the time you were doing your hike, but nothing quite so ambitious as the journey you just related. If I get out there this summer and make that trip, I'll let you know how it works out. Just wanted to give you a quick email to let you know how much I enjoyed your story. Thanks so much for posting it. Yes, the internet is a wonderful thing.



Hi Gonzo
I just wanted to let you know that I finished hiking the AT. I summited Mt. Katahdin on the 20th and summited again with my son on the 23rd. If you don't remember, I sent you a thank you note about your website and your emails three years ago. Your site and your emails answered some of my questions when I was just learning how to hike.


Just read the mouse in the face entry.
I haven't laughed that hard in a long time!
And I can't believe I drank that much beer! Is that accurate?
What a hoot!


Hi Gonzo,I just read your journals online from 1983 thru-hike on the Appalachian Trail and I really enjoyed them all
and the pics too.I was wondering was that the last time you did it?I wish I was in shape to do it and sure footed but
I am not and besides 44 is too old for me to even try it.I live in Georgia about 3.5-4 hours south of Amalicola Falls
and have been there and walked through the approach arch but that is all.Do you have a page or group on Facebook if so can you
send me the link so I can like it or join it?



Thank you for the time and effort you have made that others might enjoy
reading your journal. I fell in love with the AT in the Smokies during
1975 while stationed at Fort Bragg NC.
My daughter will graduate high school in May 2011 and is looking forward to
our thru hiking of the AT. I will be a young 64 then and get a chance to
realize my dream of 35 years.

In 'your ending thoughts and the journey home page', the ending of your
job as a museum technician touched me enough to write this note to you.
It described a scene played out several times in my own life, some of
which took years to get over, life happens even though we don't always
know why.



Alan "Gonzo" Strackeljahn in 1983 at Betty Creek Gap.





Gonzo! Appalachian Trail Journals ©1983
trail journal