[at-l] stop it, please...

Peter Fornof pfornof at sbcglobal.net
Thu Dec 23 08:11:43 CST 2010

Haven't read this one since you published it the first time. It got better for some reason. Bravo!

Sent from my iPad

On Dec 23, 2010, at 8:00 AM, Felix J <AThiker at smithville.net> wrote:

Roaring Fork Shelter  12/23/98

Sometime during my conversation with my psychologist shelter-mate
he asked me what my plans for the next day were. I told him that I
was probably going to Davenport Gap Shelter, which was where he'd
started his section hike 3 days earlier. He said, confusedly, "That's
22 miles." I said "Yeah, I know". And it was at that moment that I
realized that I had become a pretty good hiker. It is a wonderfully
liberating feeling to know that you can hike 22 miles or more if you
want to. and, that you don't really have to know it until you're doing
it. I liked that.

The next morning (12/23) he got up and left early. I talked to him from the
comfort of my sleeping bag. I finally got up and left at around 9ish.
Almost the second I left the shelter it started drizzling. It was
raining steadily by the time I started up Max Patch. The winds picked
up, as usual. The Smokys were now clearly visible. Clearly visible in
the sense that I could see that they were socked in. It was an
incredible feeling to be looking at those mountains knowing that the
next day I would be entering the Granddaddy of them all. As I climbed
higher on the side of Max Patch, the winds and rains increased. Then, as
I was 50 yards from what appears to be the summit, Brother Cain's "Fools
Shine On" rockin' my head-setted world,"BEEEEEEEEEEEEPPPPPPPPPPP!!!!!
ERRRRR!!! ERRRRR!!!!  ERRRRRRR!!!! This is a warning. The National
Weather Service has issued a Severe Winter Storm Warning for all of
Western Carolina and Eastern Tennessee." What a rush to be standing
on Max Patch, looking at the Smokes, and hear that kind of weather report,
 while watching it get ready to happen. Incredible.

I picked up the pace considerably after that. I stopped for a break at
Groundhog Creek Shelter. I was freezing, wet. Again, my hands, fingers
and arms couldn't work the way they're supposed to. I knew I was either
staying there, or getting out of there soon.  Too cold for standing
around. I headed up Snowbird in a steady, heavy rain. I almost regretted
leaving the shelter until I remembered that I could try to get to Mt.
Moma's instead of Davenport Gap Shelter. "Hmmm, cheeseburgers" I
thought. Cheeseburgers, indeed. I trudged on. It was a little after 4:00
when I crossed under I-40. When I got back into the woods, the clouds
and rhododendrons made it look much later. When I got to Davenport Gap,
it was dark. I stood on the gravel road, cold rain falling, Smokys mere
feet in front of me. "Felix" said the cheeseburger. "Yes?" I replied.
"Go to the light, boy".  As I walked down the muddy road, I could feel
the magnificence of the Smokys to my right. I could smell them. It was

I walked what seemed like 6 hours in that rain and fog. It was only
about 45 minutes, though. When I could finally see the lights of Mt.
Moma's through the fog, I was happy. I walked in the door at 15 minutes
'til 6. Every eye in the place was on me. A long-haired, long-bearded,
soaking wet hiker walks in an hour after dark? He's crazy. God, I love
being crazy.

"You got someplace where hikers stay?" I asked.
"Well, there's the bunkhouse," a bewildered woman said with bewilderment.
She said something to the man next to her and he left the room.
"Go to the pink bunkhouse and I'll get you a plate of food."
"How about one of those Texas Cheeseburgers" I thought. Well, I liked
the thought of it so well that I said it, too.
"The grille's closed. I'll get you a plate of food."

I went outside to wander around the parking lot in the pea-soup fog and
rain. I saw the bunkhouses, but couldn't tell which one was pink.
Finally, the man who had left the room walked up with a flashlight and
space heater and directed me to the pink bunkhouse. He told me to put on
some dry cloths and come back inside and get my food. I did. I looked at
the disposable cameras on the counter. I could not buy one. Luck was
taunting me. It knew that I had $11. It knew that my 'room' was $10. It
knew that Mt. Moma took no credit card. I took the single remaining
dollar and bought a Pepsi. I took my Pepsi and a picnic basket of food
with me back to the bunkhouse.

I cuddled up next to that space heater and ate. Ham, sweet potatoes,
dressing, green beans, cranberry sauce, rolls and the best cupcake I've
ever had. Easily, this was the most special Christmas Dinner of my life.
It was in a room no bigger than 10X10. I sat on the floor. I ate alone.
After dinner, I took a long, hot shower. Life was good. This night will
remain as one of the most special nights of the hike, and my life.

Felix J. McGillicuddy
ME-->GA '98
"Your Move"
ALT '03 KT '03

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