[at-l] by popular demand...of one.

Felix J AThiker at smithville.net
Wed Jan 6 22:15:53 CST 2010


12/29/98


After a night in Robbinsville with Pittsburgh, and a restaurant-cooked 
breakfast, he dropped me off at Stecoah Gap.
The day was drizzly, overcast, chilly and uneventful. It was Tuesday. I 
called my mom from NOC. It's always good
to talk to your mom. (Then again, I didn't call your mom...) I took a 
break at Rufus Morgan Shelter and it was dark
when I left there for Wesser Bald Shelter. Somewhere in between, it 
started to snow. Temps were dropping and it
was unpleasant. After I got to the shelter, I walked around in the 
wind-blown snow, looking for a non-existent privy.
No, I would not have looked had I known it didn't exist. It got very 
cold that night. Cold and windy. My sleeping
bag had snow on it in the morning.

12/30/98
I made good time to Cold Spring Shelter. Again, it was too cold to stop 
anywhere. It was 15 degrees at the shelter,
according to one of the college students that were taking up far more 
than their share of the room. I ate a quick snack
on the table next to the shelter, and was on my way. It didn't snow or 
rain any on this day, but it never did get above 20º. I ate lunch inside 
the restroom at Wayah Bald. There were lots of dayhikers out on this 
day. As I neared Winding Stair
Gap, I made a deal with myself that if somebody was at the parking lot 
and they offered me a ride, I'd take it. I was
thinking it was time for another series of showers. Before I even got to 
the road, a woman offered me a night at her house.
(Well, her husbandido was standing there, too). "Do you have a shower?"...

They took me to a town somewhere far from the trail. I think the place 
they lived was called 'The Highlands'.  I just know
it seemed like I was a long way from the Trail.  They were very pleasant 
folks. After we got to their house and I was carrying
my gear in, the woman had gotten some towels out (for the shower) and as 
she handed it to me she said "Do you have shampoo?"
That was one of the funniest questions I got asked on the whole hike.

12/31/98

After a nice night in a real bed, I was given the task of going through the
pack of my hosts' nefew. He was going to start a northbound the
next day, New Year's Day. All I shall say is he had 13 MREs with him.
He had two spatulas, a whisk, two spoons and forks, two knives and a nice
zippered carrying case for them all.  He had a gun.  He had a gps.  He had
food other than the 13 MREs. He had a lot of stuff.
After spending some time telling him what I wouldn't take and giving him
advice (which was mainly "I wouldn't take all of that"), the couple who'd
picked me up and given me a bed for the night took me back to Winding
Stair Gap.  They then took 'Tank'...which is the trailname I gave their 
nefew, on
to Springer for his next-day start.

It was well past dark when I got to Carter Gap Shelter. There was a Marine
on leave there. He had a great fire going. I stopped for a snack and warmed
myself by the fire. He was amazed when I put my snack bag away and strapped
my pack on. "Where you going?" I told him I had to get to the next shelter.
"That's 7 miles." "Yeah, I know. Happy New Year to ya." I said as I 
walked away.

I had a blast hiking up Standing Indian Mountain. It was a beautiful 
night and I was
listening to a great college football game. (The folks who put me up the 
night before
were at this game in Atlanta. I've been told it was Clemson and somebody 
else playing.
Orangebug knows) I had trouble finding the water that night. There was 
snow on the
ground and the trail to the creek was indiscernible. It was about 10 
when I got in bed
for the last time. I woke up at 11:30 to a group of flashlights shining 
in the shelter at me.
When they saw me, they turned and left. I never saw them again. I'm 
guessing it was a
group going up to the summit for the New Year's countdown. This was the 
first New
Year's that I was asleep at Midnight since the early 70's. I didn't 
mind.  Now, I'm almost
always asleep by midnight on New Year's Eve.

1/1/99  

New Year's Day was damp and chilly. Not raining. Not cold. Just damp and
chilly. I met two guys at Plumorchard Gap. We were talking about
football for some reason.  I said "Hey, did Boomer (Esiaison) say 'No
shit' on the Monday night game?" One of the guys said "See, I told you"
to the other. Pittsburgh and I had watched the Monday night game
together and I was sure that he had said it. I got to Dick's Creek Gap
in mid-afternoon. I was trying to hitch to Hiawassee when a guy in a
truck pulled over. I was just about to the truck when he drove away. The
back of his head is hopefully still burning from the stare I gave him as
he pulled away. I got a ride and checked in at the jacuzzi-roomed
Holiday Inn Express. A hot soak and steak dinner later, my buddy
Pittsburgh was there for more football watching.

The next day, 1/2/99, was horrible. It was raining or sleeting most of 
the day. I had to get on my hands and knees and crawl across the summit of Tray 
Mountain. I believe I was in Sassafras Gap when I took this picture 
(http://Felixhikes.tripod.com/AT/frozface.jpg)
My eyelashes were covered in ice.  I trudged on in the muck. I got to
Unicoi and was glad to find my buddy Pittsburgh there. I wasn't certain
he would be there. We went to Helen for more showers and pizza.

1/3/99...10 years ago today...and, my dad's 57th birthday, was just cold 
and no rain. I cruised along pretty good.  I stopped at Blue Mt. Shelter and talked 
to three kids from Alabama. I said "Ain't 'Got You Where I Want You' a great song?" 
One of the kids said "Hey, I saw them in concert New Year's Eve." I thought that 
was cool. The more we talked, the more I found out about them. I actually have met 
theirgrandmother. she lives in Bloomington. Small world, of course.

I hiked on. When I got to Hogpen Gap parking lot, a man there asked me
if I was 'going camping'. I said "Yup. Couple more days anyway." The
Trail was covered in chunks of ice for several miles through this stretch.
I had this picture taken on Cowrock Mtn 
(http://Felixhikes.tripod.com/AT/cowrock.jpg)
It was about 5:05 when I got to Neel's Gap. The store was closed. I 
looked in and somebody came over and opened the door. There were three people inside
counting money and prepping the store for closing. They let me warm up
and drink coffee. It was FREEZING out. My beard thawed. They gave me a 
can of pop. I started up Blood Mt. right at dusk. There were people, and fires, all
over the rocky summit of Blood Mt. I was listening to the Packers/Niners
game and the radio and didn't even stop at the shelter. Did I mention
that it was cold? AND, windy.

I got to the shelter turn-off for Woodshole. I almost passed it because
there wasn't a sign for southbounders    >:-|   I walked for what seemed
like miles down the blue-blaze. I stopped two times and nearly turned
around.  When I got to the shelter, I was amazed to find two other
bodies inside. One was awake. We talked a bit as I was setting up for
the night. Did I mention it was freezing? I asked if they were just out
for the weekend. The guy I was talking to said "Naaah. We're
thruhikers." "Northbounders?" I asked. "No."  "Who the hell are you?" I
asked, thinking that all the southbounders ahead of me were long gone.
"I'm QP. That's Windbraker."  "No F***ing way.  I've been following you
guys for 5 months." We had a nice chat that night. I felt like they were
my long-lost brothers. (I knew that they weren't, however, because my
long-lost brothers are both in prison) It got down to 5º or less that
night. 5º is cold.



-- 
Felix J. McGillicuddy
ME-->GA '98
"Your Move"
ALT '03 KT '03
http://Felixhikes.tripod.com/




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