At 29, Earl Shaffer was a capable and experienced outdoorsman, with hunting, fishing, trapping, and exploring skills honed in his youth in rural York County, Pennsylvania. He developed these talents further in World War II, serving with the U.S. Army Signal Corps in the Pacific.
A prolific poet and a loner who often sought solitude in the mountains, Shaffer had dreamed of hiking the Appalachian Trail since boyhood. After the trauma and losses of the war years, he was finally driven to fulfill that goal by his desire to "walk the Army out of my system."
"April 9, 1948 headed up peak. Pooped out and had to rest. Went last 100 yd. by flashlight – Nothing there so back down to picnic area and camped rough
across stream, keeping fire. Left in morn at 7:00 over Tray mtn. again. Passed side trail leading to Montray Shelter just beyond. Sign says Snake mtn shelter 10 miles can see river in distance, later took BW pic from Kelly Knob about noon."
—Page 10, Earl Shaffer’s Diary
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