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Earl Shaffer and the Appalachian Trail, July 10-October 11, 2009

When Shaffer began his hike, he had no guidebooks. His only maps were the road maps issued by service stations.The Trail itself was often obscured by natural growth, and trail markings were often faded or missing, forcing him to “bushwhack,” or cut through overgrown areas.

James River

James River Photograph by Earl Shaffer.

Diary entry, page 33.  May 15, 1948.

Diary entry, page 33. May 15, 1948.

Shaffer’s diary describes frequent episodes of taking wrong turns and going miles off course. His supplies were minimal, and he even mailed his tent home only a few days after starting out. “Most people,” he wrote, “never in all their lives sleep under the open sky, and never realize what they are missing.”

May 15, 1948
Rose early after a fairly good night, without fire, and followed trail. About seven stopped and fried bacon, which was delicious. Now will proceed force march to nearest store. Followed nice trail all morn – to sight of James River, took picture. Trail follows ridge shown path goes thru Rhododendron on down to Snowden bridge
-Page 33, Earl Shaffer’s Diary

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