[at-l] tired of this?

Felix J AThiker at smithville.net
Fri Dec 24 16:08:12 CST 2010

12/24/98 Mt. Moma's-Davenport Gap, NC

So, twelve years ago this morning,  I got up and went in to 
Mt. Moma's to tell her
thanks for dinner and Merry Christmas, and stuff. She said, 
"Well, ya better sit
down and have a cup of coffee." I did. I also had a cup of 
cake, with a
little Santa on top. We talked for a while. It was very 
nice. I went
outside, to the payphone, and called Pokey. I hadn't talked 
to her in
six weeks. Not since the day she left the Trail in Linden. 
It was good to
hear the old girl's voice. I cried. She cried. She said 
"You're breakin'
my heart here." I suppose. I hung up, turned and walked 
across the
parking lot in another heavy rain. Emotions were leaking out 
of my very
existence (I don't even know what that means other than it 
was an
emotional little walk). Everything was wet and muddy.
I got my Smokys' permit at the ranger station and Ranger 
George gave me a
ride to the Trail. We had a nice chat. His two-way radio 
kept talking
about roads being closed and how bad the weather was. Kinda 
exciting. He
let me out and said something like "I'm supposed to tell you 
you shouldn't go,
or something. But, I know you won't listen. So, good luck." 
He smiled. I headed
into the Smokys. The Trail was covered with chunks of ice 
the size of golf balls.
I cranked the Walkman and hiked on. My thoughts were 
swimming in the conversation
I had had with Pokey. I wasn't paying attention to much 
around me other than the
Rhododendrons that were hanging down on the Trail, covered 
with ice.

I hiked the .9 miles to Davenport Gap Shelter and stopped 
for a quick snack and to
check the register. As I sat there, I heard a God-awful 
sound. A tree had come
crashing down just behind the shelter. Actually, it was just 
the top half. But, with
the extra weight of the ice, the sound was incredible and 
intense. I thought "Wow!!!"
I went back inside the shelter. Another crash. I went back 
outside and did a little
closer inspection. It was just then that I realized that I 
was in the middle of a full-force ice
storm. Every tree was bent, or sagging, because of the extra 
weight of the rain and ice.
Trees were popping, exploding. A tree would groan a few 
times, and then, at a point nature
chose to be the weakest, it would explode and the top would 
plummet to the ground,
ice flying off the branches at impact. It was so cool, and 

I decided I wanted out of the shelter. I figured I'd have a 
better chance seeing a tree
coming at me from outside. I signed the register and headed 
up the hill. The next few
hours were some of the most incredible hours I've ever 
spent. Watching nature do her
thing, from the inside, was amazing. Climbing through 
treetops with branches covered in
ice as think as your wrist, listening as the next top falls 
30 feet in front, or behind you,
is an indescribable experience. (That's why I'm doing such a 
poor job of describing it.)

This went on for nearly two hours. As I climbed higher on 
the ridge, the air got warmer,
and the rain remained rain. I could still hear trees falling 
below me. I was glad it was over,
but glad that I'd been part of it, too. It rained every step 
this day. I took a break at Cosby
Knob and not again until Tricorner Knob Shelter (8 miles 
later). The shelter was a mud pit.
It usually is.

Some months after this night, I was sent copies of my 
register entry from Tricorner Knob
Shelter. I just e-mailed Bug Bite to see if I can coerce 
her, bribe her, beg her...to send me
a scan of the register again. That way I can post them 
again, only bigger.  (which won't really help the
readability of them because that'll just mean my poor 
penmanship is bigger). Until then, the
pages of that night's entry can be found here (you may have 
to cut and paste or type the address
in manually). It was a nice night to be alive. I can still 
feel the air of that dank shelter. I miss it.


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