[at-l] oh, brother...

Felix J AThiker at smithville.net
Tue Dec 20 18:13:46 CST 2011

            (I think this is all pretty accurately editated)

            12/15/98 Started out at Kincorra. The morning I
            left, it was in the mid-teens temperature-wise.
            I love listening to the
            ground crunching underfoot. It was clear and
            sunny. I took a quick snack
            break at the tower on White Rocks. It was windy
            and cold there. At some
            point in the afternoon, I was trying to tune my
            radio in and I happened
            across Dick Estelle. It was the first time I'd
            ever heard of him.
            Whatever he was saying reminded me of the AT.
            So, I listened. Yup, he
            was reading Bryson's book. I listened to the
            next 15 minutes or so.

            The Kid (Groovin' Moose) caught me and hiked
            through the DMZ with me.
            He said he didn't want
            me to hike through alone . Kids. Oddly enough, I
            actually had two
            conversations with locals in their yards.
            Imagine that: Felix talking to
            someone. Anyway, a little while later, I took
            one of my 3 falls on the
            trip. Thought I broke my wrist. I didn't. There
            is a long valley/pasture
            hike just north of US 19. Between the highway
            and that graveyard the
            Trail passes. The sun was setting as I crossed
            the stile on top of the
            hill. The orange of the sun was shining off the
            windows of the ski
            lodges on the distant mountains. It was reaaally
            cool. And, beautiful.
            It was way dark when I got to the road.
            Dangerous place.  Anyway,

            Apple House was home that night. It seems like
            something happened, but I can't remember what.
            So, did it really happen?
            Something to do with some people or kids walking
            by, or something.

            The next day (12/16) we hiked over Roan
            Mountain. There was snow. It was cold. As I
            hiked from Hughes Gap (is that where the sign
            sez "Hickers", or
            something?) I was listening to NPR. This is the
            night that we started
            bombing whoever it was we started bombing after
            Clinton was
            'impeached'. Was it Iraq again? I remember being
            at Little Rock Knob and
            seeing all the lights below, and listening to a
            woman correspondent
            talking about bombs going off. We (The Kid and
            I) stayed at Clyde Smith.
            'twas a chilly one. That would turn out to be
            our last night together.

            Next morning 12/17 we hiked over snow-covered
            Unaka and Beauty Spot. I took
            his picture in a whiteout. Very cold and windy.
            Later that evening,
            somewhere between Curly Maple and the
            Nolichucky, I saw my only racoon
            of the hike. 2160 and I saw one racoon. I barely
            saw him. He nearly
            attacked me, without knowing I was there. It was
            really scary for about
            10 seconds...the 10 seconds he was a bear. I got
            to town (Erwin) what I
            think was a couple of hours after dark. Went in
            to Johnnies to see
            Groovin' Moose and someone else's pack. It was
            Outta Chocolate. He was
            doing some slacking/flip-flopping thing. A phone
            call to Red, (and
            twenty minutes of her bitching about me not
            calling sooner...I WAS HIKING!!!), later and we
            were eating Calzones somewhere. Had dinner with
            Red, The Kid and
            Outta Chocolate. I was able to spend some
            valuable time with Shannon,
            too. I was able to give her some guidance and
            direction. That is always
            nice. (What was the advice, Red? "Books, not

            The next day 12/18 I left the hostel at about
            noon and
            headed up to No Business Knob. It would be the
            last time I'd see Groovin'
            Moose on the hike. He ended up staying in Erwin
            another night. Next time I saw him was at the
            Providence Airport in June of '99. I was pretty
            much alone from this
            point on. That was all right, as it meant I
            didn't have to spend so much
            time explaining what I said.

            It snowed pretty hard the last 4 or 5 miles.
            Very windy and cold. I
            stayed at the shelter about 17 miles south of
            Erwin. (NC Hilton? Condo?
            Something. Bald Mtn.) That is where I met Hooper
            and Toto. I had a blast
            with those guys that night. Even though I never
            saw either of them (they
            were in tents 'upstairs'.) I was once again
            suprised to be crossing paths
            with northbounders. It got very cold and snowy
            that night. I think the
            snow seemed worse than it was, though.

            December 19th, 1998. Miserable weather.
            It warmed up enough to rain, and the snow of the
            previous day had turned to slush.
            It may have rained, or snowed, or drizzled every
            step of this day. I remember
            when I got to Sam's Gap, it was pouring pouring.
            There was lots of traffic (I think it
            was a Saturday.). As the traffic whizzed by, the
            long tails of water
            that followed them would, of course, hit me. It
            didn't matter, I was
            already soaked and cold. I finally made it
            across the road, and up to
            Hogback Ridge Shelter. It was good to get out of
            the wind and rain for a
            snack. That is where the announcement "Vote to
            Impeach" came through my
            headset. I had been listening to the NPR
            broadcast of the stuffy
            impeachment proceedings all morning. It
            definitely helped to take my mind
            off the ankle-deep slush I was trudging through.

            I had a nice evening at Flint Mt. Shelter. I saw
            one of my 3 mice of the
            entire trip here. I wrote a lot that night, for
            some reason. I wrote an
            article for the local paper "Photosynthesis: How
            to use it for good".
            (That may have been something else) Actually, I
            did write an "Update
            from the Trail" for the local rag. Flint Mt. is
            a nice shelter, I'd say.

            After I left Flint Mt. Shelter, I did the climb
            up to Big Butt.
            Somewhere in there was something nearly as
            strange as the 'Z' in the
            sky: An older model Chevy Blazer sitting in the
            middle of the Trail.
            This was not on one of the many 'roads'
            (railroad grade or old logging
            roads) that are prevalent in the area. This was
            on standard,
            single-width AT. It was easily 1/2 a mile (Hmmm,
            5 tenths), and probably
            much more, from the nearest 'road' (the dirt
            road near the Shelton
            Monuments). The engine was still hot, and was
            popping and cracking as it
            cooled. It caused a very uneasy feeling in me,
            as I didn't want to be
            around if someone returned 'to the scene'. I did
            a quick look inside to
            make sure that no one was inside and hurt. The
            window was open where
            someone climbed out. Creepy.

            I went out to the view at Blackstack Cliffs.
            They had been socked in
            when I hiked this section the first time. Later,
            I saw a bear hunter
            with an antenna about the same size as the one
            on my house. He was a
            nice guy, I guess. I gave him M&Ms and Cheetos.
            This was at Laurel (?)
            Shelter (Little Laurel?). Somewhere between Old
            Hayesville Road and
            Allen Gap, I found two bottles of Coke(the
            beverage). I drank one with a
            snack at Allen Gap. I saw a guy litter. I hate
            litterers. I really do. I
            made it up on top the mountain that Spring
            Mountain Shelter is on. I
            can't think of the name of it. There was a nice
            Sunset that evening.
            (Why did I capitalize 'Sunset'? I'll never know)
            Spring Mountain Shelter
            had the loudest mouse I encountered on the hike.
            I never saw him. He was
            between two layers of tin (I guess) roofing.
            Every move, every chew,
            everything he did resonated through the whole
            metal-roof-amplifier. I'd
            crack the roof with my fist and he'd quiet down
            for about 40 seconds. He
            drove me insane, I tell you. Insane. I was glad
            that I had the viles of
            Coke. I slept on the right side of the shelter
            looking in. Seems like
            something funny happened that night, but I can't
            remember what.
            Something to do with alien spacecraft...I don't

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

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