[at-l] funny hat

Felix J AThiker at smithville.net
Mon Dec 24 21:23:48 CST 2012

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

          So, 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 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.

          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.


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

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