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

giniajim jplynch at crosslink.net
Thu Dec 23 08:41:09 CST 2010

I've read about this dinner before.  Was it something you wrote about in the AT mag?  Did you ever get that Texas Cheeseburger, maybe for breakfast?  :)

  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Felix J 
  To: at-l 
  Sent: Thursday, December 23, 2010 9:00 AM
  Subject: [at-l] stop it, please...

  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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  at-l at backcountry.net
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