The original of this was transcribed from my trail journal. Wow, I was an arrogant little prick. Portions of the transcription have been removed and/or sanitized, transcription is in italics, later additions aren't.
Many, perhaps all of these pictures were taken by Amanda. I'm pretty sure I took some of them, because there were two different sizes of prints in the envelope, and four pictures on one of those sets of prints were non OB stuff from Tennessee.
I'm also pretty shocked by the implicit misogyny that runs through here. The fact that none of the women were mentioned by name in the poem in the end really raises my eyebrows. I don't know if that's a reflection of who I was, or what the world was like two decades ago. Obviously some combo of the two.
Journal Entries by Day
Day 1 5/7
The echo of a jet overhead fades to leave the sound of a stream and the low lull of after dinner conversation.
We opened the day with 2 neat exercises. The first: the 8 participants and 2 counselors stood in a circle & grabbed 2 hands and tried to untangle ourselves.
The second: The 8 members had to get over a 14 foot wall. Once you were over, you couldn't help from the bottom.
I remember a third, as well, the challenge was to get the team through an "electric fence", two horizontal ropes at nominal heights, try to get everyone between the ropes, people could only help from the side they were on. Although I may be confusing this with a later Swap Ya experience.
Day 2 5/8
I write this on the morning of day 3, my aching legs are pleasantly cool in the morning air. Yesterday was fantastic, but not something I want to repeat soon.
We started with the ropes course. Climbing up through a hammock like affair, crossing a rope bridge at 15' and a horizontal rope ladder at 20'. Then up to 40' where there were two parallel bars to be crossed using someone else as support. Then, a long log at 40' which had to be crossed. A small climb to a platform where your harness was attached to a huge swing. What an experience.
Hiking was NICE. Up over Table Rock and down. However, I'm sore and my pack harness needs revision.
I also remember a break when everyone else was panting and out of breath and I was doing push-ups on the slope. Posturing, to be sure (there are bits later on here about my one-upping with Scott that I may or may not leave in as I get there).
Day 3 5/9
I'm writing this on the evening of Day 5, sitting by the Toe river. We hiked like crazy today, no really cosmic experience, although it's amazing how the important little experiences faded.
I don't know what the important little experiences here were, but I'm sure they involved fantastic views and amazing scenery, and the team starting to bond, me and Dave playing cheerleader to Kim to keep her going, that sort of thing.
Day 4 5/10
More bustin' ass.
Day 5 5/11
More hiking. The group, Scott, David, Peter, Joe, Amanda, Kim & Ann, decided, though with a few reservations, to go straight up a 500 foot hill through the brush & up the ledges. One of those experiences that make you say "Holy Shit!".
Lots of it was really just steep hill, covered with leaves (really slick) some was shear rock. Damned hard with a pack.
So what I remember about this is that each day had a leader, and I got nominated for this day. I was clearly not confident enough with the maps, because there was a trail that went off to the left, up to our destination, and the longer trail that looped around. Everyone was looking for the trail on the left, but at some point the group became pconvinced that we'd missed it, so they, over my objections, said "let's go up".
Having done the hiking I've done now in such gorges, I realize that there's almost always a way up the last set of cliffs that are common to the southeastern mountains, but at the time I had images of us climbing in to places we'd have a lot of trouble getting out of.
This was the last day of hiking training. My feet ache, both big toes have HUGE blisters, my knees are incredibbly sore, and my back and shoulders are rubbed raw from the pack straps.
In the afternoon, we drive (In a van! With seats!) to a camp by the Toe River. Trains pass on the other side frequently, and we're up to 11:00PM talking.
Quote of the day: Peter: "It gets flatter"
Day 6 5/12
Standing around on cooking crew making dinner. I am feeling FANTASTIC! Since there is some light left, I'll describe the various people this evening too!
Ahhh, the joys of being an arrogant immature 18 year old. And, no, that's not redundant, I was immature even for your average 18 year old.
Amanda - a strange one to figure out. She is complaining about the complaining, but is definitely here for the experience. I thought 'til yesterday that she'd be the hardest to live with, but now I think she's got a reasonable attitude. From NYC.
Scott - Big, muscular type, brought a harmonica and plays the sort of stuff the youth group loves. He and I are probably the most fit, with Joe next. He and I are trying to impress the various girls, it's quite interesting...
Anyway, today we did some whitewater, I canoed with Kim. Again, her skill strength and experience aren't fantastic, but she makes up for it in spirit.
Afterwards we did a 3 mile group run. I crossed the line with Ed, at 7:10 a mile. It took 15 min for my heart to get down to something real. After a dip in the stream (dirty, but cold and it removes lots of B.O.) I felt absolutely great. As Scott would say: "Fuckin A." (awesome)! I've said I'll race Ed 4 miles tomorrow, with a good timing. It should be quite good. My legs and feet are still recuperating, but my "Band football" spirit lives on.
More on the rivalry between Scott & I. [Text Elided]
The first run (day 2, 2 miles) he beat me. Today I won. It will be interesting to see how this will all work out. I thought he & I were going to have it out, but once we both realized that the comments going back & forth were in fun, things have loosened up. He's also the eldest. Dave is the youngest (his actions & incessant talking show it).
The interesting thing is that no one is ostracized. Even the misfits (Peter & Dave as I see it) are incorporated into the group very well. Joe and I are similar, both quiet in the same way. Peter & Scott are prone to rash decisions, but no harm has come so far.
Anyway, the flashlight is burning low (first night I've used it), and there are other things to see & do.
Day 7 5/13
We did more whitewater today, I had Kim in the bow again. There was a good tough set of rapids which Scott & I ran, & the others portaged. As Scott remarked afterwards, "Once I ran it, you had to..."
I ended up acting as spokesperson for the group after a long talk we had the night before. We always have a circle in the evening, but this was a spontaneous meeting where we'd all wandered out to watch the full moon. A lot of good thoughts & concerns got aired. No race vs Ed 'cause my right ankle hurts.
I don't remember the details of the grievances that got aired here, although I believe that the whitewater folks were from Nantahala Outdoor Center, NOC, and we didn't get along with many of them much when I was a whitewater paddler later in life.
Day 8 5/14
Back to the hiking.
We've been given 3 days to return to the Table Rock base camp. Ed & Lisa will follow, but not help with any navigation. In the morning we pussy-footed our way around, but really poured it on later, doing 7 miles. It's kind of dreary, as we climbed past 3000' we got into a cloud and we camped by a nice spring. 30' visibility with some rain.
Day 5 5/15
Woke up early to finish some pot cleaning. Kim & Amanda felt sick yesterday, & are somewhat better today. We've really kicked ass distance wise, doing 7 miles & a river crossing before 16:00. Couple of showers, but its not bad as we're camped by the river. Ed & Lisa are acting rather mysterious, I hope it isn't too much foreboding.
My right ankle is in an ace bandage. It feels like I've pulled something, but I'm NOT dropping.
[Notes on people elided, nothing terribly informative]
I've got to brag & say that I identified our positions very well all day, including within 10' of a trail which we were trying to get off a ridge 'cause of thunder. (grace under pressure [grin!])
Anyway, Ed & Lisa are probably doing something devious, I'll drop back to camp & see what's up. I hate to use my legs more 'n I've gotta.
I think Amanda & I are the only ones who are still loving this trip. Ann & Kim are second, though Kim hasn't binched since Day 2, when Dave & I pushed to keep her from dropping.
I have to wonder if this group is as close as it is because of the circumstance. I was talking with Ann earlier, and I wonered if we met eelswhere there'd be interest. We're all from yuppie backgrounds, 'cept for Dave, but htat doesn't count for much.
Dave is talking up a storm as we wait for Lisa & Ed to finish dinner. The Solo will be nice. He's also the most concerned about the future parts of the trip. We nade an agreement to only learn what we had to when we had to. A pain sometimes, but a nice way to experience things.
Day 10 5/16
Sure 'nuff, Ed & Lisa did have one up their sleeves. We (all 8) slept under one tarp, with 5 ground covers, 8 foam pads & 4 sleeping bags. Uncomfortable, but quite an experience. Today we've got 4 or 5 miles to base camp, then a few days of R&R & climbing (compared to hiking, climbing is R&R).
Once in base camp we've setup camp, 2 tarps, girls & I in one, Lisa & Ed in their own ,the others in the other tarp.
Dinner was, well, memorable. Everything left went in, which was pretty awful. Small amount, but...
I'm not sure if it was here, but I remember an incident where we were trying to figure out how to use Texturized Vegetable Protein, and ended up with a pasta sauce that was horrendous.
After dinner we sat around a fire & talked, specifically about values. I am really understanding myself better because I have time to think about it. Talking with Amanda Ann & Kim was also much more interesting than the usual baudy jokes. Tomorrow I ought to be a bit more alert.
Day 11 5/17
Got up [Transcription failure, need to fix] around 7. I feel like a foal with my weak knees & sore muscles.
We all trucked on down to the climbing hut and started at 9. What a great feeling. We started with bouldering, just working around rocks with hard sections on them and a spotter to catch after mistakes. Then we tied on the harnesses and worked on going up a face several times with differet routes. The first I did normally, the second & third blindfolded. It adds a whole new perspective, working the rock solely by feel, trying to judge whether or not a foodhold will work by experiment. Falling was also strange 'cause you'd grab for holds from memory, & your belayer would have the rope tight enough that you didn't know whether you caught yourself or were caught by the harness.
Rappelling was a neat experience too, the first time I've ever had that much trust in equipment & such.
The competition 'tween Scott & I is out in the open. Comments about not letting one show the other up are quite numerous and happened many times today. Running 2.2 miles today I kept up with Lisa at the head of the pack. It's amazing how flexible I am now too.
Tomorrow we'll be teaching a bunch of kids what we learned today. A good service project!
Day 12 5/18
Started out with a wake up at 6:00, helped Dave fix breakfasts (granola, big deal!) and got the crew out to the main base camp by 8:00.
The kids were fun, agroup like my computer class, with some who jumped right in & some who were rather fearful about it.
("computer class" note: I was volunteering at a charter school in Chattanooga, helping a teacher out with a computer class and, as was normal for me, was having trouble keeping my "how much more than the teacher I knew about computers" thing in check.)
Afterwards we climbed some harder rocks than yesterday. My fingers are blistered & raw from holding cracks.
The tensions in the group are getting out. Dave is about ready to deck Scott, Peter is down on the trip. We all talked about he fire & talked about the strengths of the members of the group. The comments about me were all about how I gave 110%. My CT vacation CAN NOT be so fucking intense. I've got to sit back & relax.
Scott is pissing me off in some ways too, with Peter only aggravationg the situation. He (Scott) is being intentionally annoying to many, & Peter's downer attitude accentuates it. It's amazing that those I'm closest (Ann, Amanda & Kim) are pissing me off the least. The after fire conversations are quite interesting.
There has been a comment that we might do 2 days of solo, & a third with another member of the group. That could be great or awful, depending on the partner.
[Some personal observations elided]
Day 13 5/19
We did lots of climbing, some rapelling (about 60 feet free, 80 feet total) and such. I'm getting all sorts of compliments on my climbing ability. Two great climbs, one was past a 3 foot ledge, where arm strength was key, the other a face that tilted the wrong way. The second involved holding yourself in with the hands using the feet to go up. Scott & I did the first, Lisa & I were the only ones to make it up the second with no falls (comments from Scott about luck...)
We moved from our campsite above the base camp to a cabin. We also got showers, which were the best thing that's hit me in a while. I write this feeling relatively clean on top of my bunk (NO LUMPS!)
Tomorrow we climb Table Rock, if it doesn't rain, but its raining now and we may just start our solo early and try the Table Rock climb then. Other options seem to be a 200-300 foot rappel deal.
The group is getting tenser. Pet is in an AWFUL mood and seems to be dragging us down. Scott is acting better since he heard Dave commenting (bitching) about him.
5 mile run today, walked the last 1.5-1 or so. The 14 mile all groups race is gonna be wild. Peter surprised the hell out fome today when he outran me. He's noticeably slimmed up.
Misc: There are two crews that alaternate between cooking & tarp setup. My crew is Dave, Kim, Ann & I. Everybody seems to be bitching at me for working to hard. As I stated earlier, I'm annoyed about Peter's attitude, he's just being irrational & mean.
Re: the "bitching at me for working too hard", I'm not sure what exactly this was, but this was also the point in my life where the union guys at the print shop I was working in had similar complaints.
Day 14 5/20
While not the most physically demanding, today was certainly a busy day. We got up at 5 to be by the climbing hut at 6. After getting our equipment & lead climbers we went out to table rock (before I forget them, the routes Scott & I took up were "Skip To My Lou" & "KMart".
Since Scott & I are fairly evently matched climbing wise, we were taken by Byron to the ahrdest student routes. I took 2 short falls early on (the first 10') and didn't fall afterwards. Scott made it climbing 3rd with no falls (probably because he watched me start [grin]).
Byron climbed lead, clipping in every 20-40' or so, we just followed with him belaying, I had water & warm clothing, Scott carried the equipment from clipping in.
Anyway, I've overcome the "irrational" parts of my acrophobia through the ropes course, my climbing & hike up the wall of Linville gorge. It would be fun to come back for Alumni Climbing.
Right now I'm lying out under my tarp on evening 1 of my solo. I'll be out here 2 days, 3 nights, and I've already almost killed my food. But, I do have some iced tea brewing. Peter is on one side of me and Ann is on the other. Ann's tarp is barely visible through the trees, but I'm sure she's aware of my presence (100-150'). Maybe I'll do calisthenics nude in the morning just to shake her up. (I really have changed. My 'modesty' is slipping away from me!)
Climbing was pretty wild, it was wet, and we were in a cloud so visibility and rock traction were way down. When I was belaying Byron on the second belay, I was supported by my harness over 100' of air. Quite an experience, kind of like along rappel.
Dragging Scott's belay rope behind me also made things interesting, as I had to clip it into stuff where we made traverses. I got one picture of Scott with his camera. I'll try to get copies of his, but there aren't many of me or all the shots I'd like. A camera with a zoom lens is a must next time.
Two songs keep running through my head, Loverboy "Loving Every Minute Of It" & Seger "Turn the Page".
Talking philosophy with Scott & Dave today, Scott mainly. Some interesting (and funny as hell) ideas, such as: This is the hell where we're paying for our sins. Since this life isn't bad, the sinces in the past life must have been fantastic! You only goet your image of yourself from others, therefore if no one knows of or about you, you don't exist. Someone who is disabled in senses such as the eyes and ears generally has a good sense of touch, better than average; how is sex for such a person? And the usual about the blind visualizing.
The stream in the background provides some neat white noise, broken by the rain falling on my tarp. It's probably only 6 or so, but I may just crash now.
Writing in this journal is quite therapeutic, but I'm not sure I feel I can keep it entirely away from all others so very few comments about myself will go in here. Maybe later, and definitely when I get home.
Day 15 5/21
I dreamed a lot last night, waking up occasionally, though I can't remember what specifically. Next time I'll write it down when I wake up.
I would kill for a razor. My beard is starting to itch, and various bug bites on my body are driving me nuts. Today I'll dig a sump hole and give myself a wash. If it clears up I'll get my clothing too, but drying in the current weather is impossible.
I keep hearing movement in the trees, but when I turn there's nothing. Must be the rain falling off the trees. I killed all my solo food last night except for my orange.
Just changed into my longjohns.
As I sit here and think it occurs to me that while the whole may be greater than the sum of its parts, such as in a group situation, it can also be much less. The awful attitude of Peter and some of the others has really pulled us down in many ways.
Its interesting having no touch with the outside world except what Peter can glean from the counsellors regarding sports. The questions I'd ask regularly outside have no meaning here as I can't do anything about any of it. I wonder if OPUS is out in gamma yet. Hell, it may be totally released for all I know.
OPUS was some BBS software that I was playing with.
The weather still sucks, the fog is light, but the rain is incessant. I sure hope it clears up, the constraints of this tarp are driving me nuts.
('Nother outside question. I wonder if Turbo C is out yet, and if it beats Datalight in anything)
Just ran out to check the marker we leave for Ed & Lisa. A note from Lisa commenting on the weather, nothing more.
I had been really looking forward to the solo as a time to meditate for hours on end. Unfortunately, its so cold and uncomfortable that my longest stretch has been about an hour. At least I haven't heard Peter's griping or Dave's incessant chatter.
As I mentioned previously that Ann's tent is the next one over. I see flashes of activity every once in a while from that direciton. I'm almost tempted to leave a note inviting her over for a chat, but not yet. Perhaps tomorrow.
Day 16 5/22
Woke up at first light, the cloud cover above dispersing it so that I could just make out the green tree leaves. Dreamed last night, but when I woke up I felt it wasn't important so I didn't write it down.
Left a note to Lisa complaining about the weather, decided not to send a smart-ass one to Dave about Camels.
Just picked up a small package from my marker. About 10 M&Ms, not much, but you sure do appreciate the smaller things out here. Maybe I'll write a short story to keep myself occupied. I did a poem yesterday...
Dropped a note at Ann's tent when she went down to get H2O. She came around and we talked for a while. Nothing cosmic. She reminds me of Barbara in her quiet stage. I'll probably ride into town with her. I think when I get out of here I'll load the car with a couple of hamburgers & packs of M&Ms for the ride home or something else totally out of character. I'm rather hungry now, especially since I've got nothing else to dwell on (Damn if some chicken Parmesan wouldn't be great!) (or a good stir fry!) I've been trying to write the start of that novel I've been wanting to do for aa while, filled up a few pages, but no luck so far.
It's getting brighter, seems to be mid afternoon, but there are also some shadows. Perhaps the clouds will break up, I think this is the brightest it's been in a while.
Started wondering about the //gs stuff I ordered from Dr. Lane. I also wondered about the grant on that program. And those 2 hard drives.... Damn, I wish I hadn't gotten on this track. Ahh, maybe the IRS has my frefund! I've got to write to Apple as soon as I get back for info on AW file formats. SHIT!
The sun came out for a little while, it looks to be around 3:00. Time is going by SOOO sloow I would give an awful lot for pepper steak, or Kung Pao chicken, or a Hummus sandwich... Even a glass of GOOD o.j.
The coulds are back in, but I think I see some variation in them. I just spent a good amount of time restitchign parts in one of my boots. At least it took my mind off of the damn COMPUTER! (Has Dave sent MultiScribe yet?) [anguish!]
'nother quote from climbing Byron: There's Dan, wondering where his sphincter has gone."
About Peter: He's the only one pro Reagan, "anti commie", Robertson type in the group. Everyone else is oriented rather like me politically.
I have to wonder exactly what that means, because I was also heading into a very Libertarian period in my life...
We broke from solo today, up at 6:00 or so, out totally at 10:00 for our final hike. We walked quite a distance out, stopping at a place where there was a neat natural waterslide. It was fun, and we covered 8 miles. There was a wicked thundershower once we got the tarps set up, and it was a very wet night. Scott tried to light a fire with gasoline... not injuries, but exciting as all heck.
Man, what a wimpy day! We woke up wet, so did a few miles, then spread outside to dry our stuff. A few more miles in a huge dounpour, then a camp in a field. It's on a ridge, but we'll be much safer from ground surge here, and we've got some oversize trees that should get anything.
I've been navigating for a while, and its kept me from the growing tensions in the group. Scott & Peter & Joe are off to find a store supposed to be 2 mi. from here.
Talked with Lisa some today, she dropped by as we had to leave a cairn right nearby.
Dave & I had an interesting talk about drugs, and there were some nead conversations about the dinner pot with the Scott clique gone.
It's gonna be damned nice to get home. The final run is the day after tomorrow, and we've been eating all pasta on this final, so we should be in great shape. I'm looking at about 3 hours, but I may be able to brake 2 (HA!) if I really bust my ass. If forgot my coat down by N. Harper Creek, I think I'll be able to get it, but...
We also did a wild bushwack, with some neat climbing, including a belay, and hoisting a few packs.
Scott & Peter & Joe walked off to a store for a few.
[Notes about musings and ramblings that afternoon removed, the important part about this paragraph was that Scott, Peter & Joe took off, and then Lisa dropped in and I remember sitting there talking about navigation and whatever else not wanting to bring any attention to the fact that we were down three members.] We were up 'til 12 talking.
Last day of hiking! We did 8 miles by 3:00, after a late start & a long debate on howt prepare the bagels.
The group has been falling apart, something which Ed & Lisa talked about. Peter made a comment about Scott and things started flowing, unfortunately all at Scott (yes, I was guilty too). Then I asked that everyone in the circle throw in some constructive crtiicism about me. The general feeling was that I was too organized and energetic, not down loose enough, and sometimes helped too much for the group.
I've gotta ask Sara 'bout Scott's girlfriend, [ELIDED]. She's a horse rider of some (major) skill.
Last day real day here! We started with an all groups 14 mile run, which I held 10 minute miles. My right ankle acted up again, I'll have to get a brace for it. Peter beat me at 2:02. For a kid who looked like a real wimp when he got here he's doing quite fantastic.
We handed in everything but our sleeping bags, had tuna sandwiches for lunch and supper will be supplied. We've got to work up a skit to get dessert, but I can't think of anything.
Poem we presented for dessert on the last day
We came in excited
thought it was great
our first meal was millet
by then it was too late
Who are all these people
Where are tehy from
They aren't like me
They look really dumb
We tried to pack our packs
but nothing would fit
it was all to heavy
And we said "we can't carry all this shit"
Next came the ropes course
we climbed ever so high
we screamed as we fell
and thought we would die
Scott had his harmonica
Peter had his raps
Dave had his stories
Dan had his maps
But Dan and his maps
didn't guide us so well
so we bushwacked steep hilles
out of Linville Hell
We forded some streams
and crossed many a river
took a few tumbles
and started to shiver
And then in the evening
we crawled into our bags
with cups of hot cocoa
our clothes feeling like rags
We paddled down the Toe
trying to catch the key edd
y made it to camp
in time for spiced up spaghetti
The second day on the Toe river
we were wet from head to sock
the rapids were great
Joe & Dave hit every rock
We finally reached camp
getting ready to climb
maybe not rocks
but bed every time
With every foot hold and hand hold
that just isn't there
some pushed on
and some just swear
A mysterious shipwreck
sent us out in the dark
with four sleeping bags
we were hedging our bets
when in the morning
we finally awoke
the girls had the bags
the rest were all soaked
So remember you people
as you leave this nest
tell people you loved it
that you gave your best
If you say you hate it
they'll think you're crazy
so get them to try it
they won't be lazy