Brian's Hike on the Appalachian Trail (13)
February 20, 2000 until ????

brianshike13 : May 13 to June 1 (during which Brian took
several weeks of "vacation")

Brian's Journal

May 13, 2000 16.0 miles today to Delaware Water Gap (Leroy A. Smith Shelter) which is 48 miles till home and 800 till Chicago

Just Rocks
A 1,000 Foot Rock Pile
For once I am safely and securely in a shelter, admiring an impressive thunderstorm without being afraid I'll get struck. I figure I've cheated fate twice, so I won't press my luck any more. Any way, I got up pretty late, ate a greasy breakfast for $3 (including tip) at Bert's Steakhouse, then packed and left that sad, depressing town. A nice woman picked me up near the entrance ramp to the highway, and drove me to the trailhead. The climb out of Lehigh Gap is quite impressive.

It goes up the Blue Ridge with all the zinc-related pollution problems, so you are basically rambling up a huge 1,000-foot rock pile. The blazes give you a suggestion of where you should head, but there's definitely no clear path. It's a good hands and knees rock climb, much more fun than trudging over flat, ridge-top rock fields.

Anyway, the next 5 miles were just absolutely depressing. The whole mountain is dead, and the only views you get through the veil like smog are of the factories and pollution from the valley below. It is scary to see how gross our technology and industry has the ability to make things yet. This place looked like Hiroshima, or Mars---just completely dead. But anyway......what can you do but complain?

ATC depressing
Industrial America at its worse

The rest of the day was pretty nondescript, and I pretty much ran to beat the storm, and ended up getting here 4 hours before the first bolt of lightening. I'm here tonight with Bert the Bavarian, whom I met briefly at the Outerbridge Shelter last night. In three nights I've stayed with a French Canadian, two Brits, and a Bavarian ----none of which have anything good to say about America, particularly drinking laws. Bert is pretty entertaining though. He is a retired engineer with classic German, rational reasoning. He also takes a shot of olive oil each night for the fat. It's gut wrenching just to watch him do it. Anyway, this being my last night in PA and all, I'll take a moment to reflect on it.......

Just Rocks
A 1,000 Foot Rock Pile

There's not much to say about Pennsylvania. The rocks suck, but no where as bad as their reputation, the people are slow, the trial is nice (but monotonous), and the shelters are above average. Overall, I think I'll give it a "B-". It tries real hard, but it just lacks any real potential. Oh well. Time for bed. Oh yeah, Bert says I missed a scary punk-drinking bout at the Outerbridge Shelter last night. Oh well. No Worries. Billy Goat

May 14, 2000 20.2 to Delaware Water Gap Church Hostel 162.2 till NY/CT line
1,268.9 from Springer Mountain and 891.3 till the Big K

Here I am, 2 miles from Jersey. My Jersey Fresh Jersey Pride is swelling up in my throat right now. I still can't believe I'm here. It just seems crazy to me that 3 months ago I left my parents car, and now I'm back here, and I've gotten here without car, bus, train, or plane---just my own two feet. But anyway.....after waking and eating breakfast with Bert, I hit the trail around 8:30. My stomach wanted a cheeseburger by 10, so when I got to Wind Gap I tried to hitch a ride (with no success) for a half hour before getting frustrated and mad and running back to vent in the woods. It's just frustrating to be passed by people in their Sunday finest (on their way home from church where they were praising Jesus and talking about goodwill and charity), who just glare at you like you were the smallest piece of shit ever to be shat into the world, waiting to be flushed away to the bowls of hell. It seems disgustingly hypocritical to me. But anyway...... Today was a very stretch which finally turned into an old forest road for the last 6 miles.

A PA Walk
A Final Walk in PA

With about 3 miles left to the gap, I look up and say, "Wow, that beer is on a leash." Then I say, "That's not a bear, that's an OLIVER!" So I met Mom and Dad and the dog (who didn't even recognize me) near Mt. Minsi, and we walked down here together. The PA side of the gap is really very, very beautiful. Real lush, real nice. If it weren't for that blasted I-80 roaring away, it would be ideal. But we got down to this tiny town, I washed up at the hostel, then we ate at a diner, I packed my slack-pack, then I ran back to the hostel to meet Kira at 7:30. It was nice seeing my good buddy again, and we got caught up to speed, and I got a tour of her school. She's a quality person, and I enjoyed her company.

So now I'm about ready for bed before the marathon to the lake tomorrow. Oh yeah, Chiefton left a farewell entry in this register, so the man is off the trail and going home. It's a bit shocking, but not completely unexpected considering he does have a family to get homesick for. Oh well, Goodnight for now. No worries! BG

P.S. Q: "What's the difference between a thru-hiker and a homeless vagrant living in the woods?" A:"A thin layer of Gor-Tex."

May 18, 2000 at home in Tewksbury, New Jersey

I'm sitting here at my kitchen table in Tewksbury, NJ, listening to a good thunderstorm and feeling a bit odd. When I'm out in the woods, I'm part of the storm. You feel the storm and the power and the energy. Now it feels so distant. I'm inside, it's out there. Nice to watch, but the same distant feeling you have while watching television. I'm in civilization, in the comforts of a man-made climate controlled shelter, wishing I was back in the wild, huddled against the back wall of a 3 sided shelter, separated only by a thin, leaky tin roof from the violent beauty of a good thunderstorm.

During the past 3 months, I've spent a lot of time thinking about the differences between these two worlds. It's always them and us. Even in the woods, I'm still found to man made vices for survival. I need metal, plastic, and fossil fuel to cook machine-made, thoughtfully advertised, preservative-rich foods. I'm dependent on synthetic materials for clothing, shelter, and everything else. Actually the only natural fiber I have in the woods is the 12-inch hemp twine holding a small piece of coral around my neck.

And even after 3 months of living in the woods, I'm still as foreign to it as I was on day one. I mean my lug-souled boots have crushed countless wildflowers, salamanders, worms, and bugs. Chipmunks run when they hear me coming. No matter how comfortable I feel in the woods, I'll always be a tourist. Not that that is good or bad, it's just a fact.

I've spent the last three days running around in my Honda Civic. Braving rush hour on I-80, getting shots from the doctors, getting X-rays of my teeth, surfing the net......... This is all part of the "civilized" world I'm unable to detach myself from. It's hard to realize that I'm back in the madness that I laughed at on my trip. The Wal-Mart in Franklin, NC, the craziness of the I-81 interchange at Troutville, the blank stares of motorists all along the Appalachian Ridge line----I thought I had risen above all this silliness, but I guess I've just been on a detour around it.

This probably sounds pretty depressing, but it shouldn't be. After you realize that it really is impossible to completely separate yourself from the crazy vices of modern life forever, you really start to appreciate the small time you're taken away from it. These past months have been incredible, and I know that I'll always have them. They've changed me in ways I never expected, and no-matter how crazy my life may be, I'll always have these memories to look back on. But enough of this lamenting.....

Lake Owassa
A Lake Owassa Sunset (and home)

From the Water Gap, I had a awesome walk to Culvers Gap on Monday. Although hard to believe, the trail in Jersey is some of the nicest hiking I've seen. After leaving the I-80 bridge, I had the Jersey side of the Gap all to myself in the early morning. It was real nice. I made a sculpture to add to the rock garden at Sunfish Pond. Mine looks like this (a drawing was included).

It was a weird feeling though. I've walked that whole section of the AT in various day and weekend hikes while growing up, but they seemed all like isolated trips, until I hiked them all at once and pieced them all together. I was definitely hiking with ghosts. Every now and then I would look at something and get smacked with dejavu', remembering what I was thinking the last time I was there. Always strange, the same confused, shocked feeling you get when you run into a screen door, thinking there was a clear path through the doorway. But it was neat to ramble over the same rocks that earned me the Billy Goat name.

But to make a long story short, I got to my car, drove to the lake, showered in the lake, drove to Califon, met up with high school buddies, did some chores, and now I'm leaving for Chicago first thing tomorrow. That's it.

Even though I'm already missing the trail, I miss Jaimie more, and I'll be glad to see her. If it weren't for her, I 'd probably be down in Virginia right now doing 8 miles days and dragging this hike out as long as physically possible. But anyway.. all is well, and I'll resume these thoughts when I get back on the trial around June 1st.

Taking it Easy, having no worries. Billy Goat

Go to the next page..... Brian's Hike on the Appalachian Trail (14)

If you want to write to or contact Brian, his email address is

If you don't want to receive these updates or know of anyone who should be included, please let us know!