[at-l] and...

Felix J AThiker at smithville.net
Sat Dec 24 17:23:55 CST 2011

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

            So, 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

            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 scary.

            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.

            It was a nice night to be alive. I can still
            feel the cold, dank air of the shelter on the
            back of my neck. I miss it.

            There are copies of my register entries from
            Tricorner Knob at the links below. Hopefully you
            can read my chicken scratchings.


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

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