[at-l] Sistine

Felix J athiker at smithville.net
Tue Dec 23 09:36:05 CST 2014


12/23/98
Roaring Fork Shelter

The next morning (12/23) he got up and left early. I talked 
to him from the
comfort of my sleeping bag. I finally got up and left at 
around 9ish.
Almost the second I left the shelter it started drizzling. 
It was
raining steadily by the time I started up Max Patch. The 
winds picked
up, as usual. The Smokys were now clearly visible. Clearly 
visible in
the sense that I could see that they were socked in. It was an
incredible feeling to be looking at those mountains knowing 
that the
next day I would be entering the Granddaddy of them all. As 
I climbed
higher on the side of Max Patch, the winds and rains 
increased. Then, as
I was 50 yards from what appears to be the summit, Brother 
Cain's "Fools
Shine On" rockin' my head-setted world, 
"BEEEEEEEEEEEEPPPPPPPPPPP!!!!!
ERRRRR!!! ERRRRR!!!! ERRRRRRR!!!! This is a warning. The 
National
Weather Service has issued a Severe Winter Storm Warning for 
all of
Western Carolina and Eastern Tennessee." I could not have 
been more Western Carolinaed and Eastern Tennesseed than I 
was, as I was standing on the state line. What a rush to be 
standing
on Max Patch, looking at the Smokes, and hear that kind of 
weather report,
while watching it get ready to happen. Incredible.

I picked up the pace considerably after that. I stopped for 
a break at
Groundhog Creek Shelter. I was freezing, wet. Again, my 
hands, fingers
and arms couldn't work the way they're supposed to. I knew I 
was either
staying there, or getting out of there soon. Too cold for 
standing
around. I headed up Snowbird in a steady, heavy rain. I 
almost regretted
leaving the shelter until I remembered that I could try to 
get to Mt.
Moma's instead of Davenport Gap Shelter. "Hmmm, cheeseburgers" I
thought. Cheeseburgers, indeed. I trudged on. It was a 
little after 4:00
when I crossed under I-40. When I got back into the woods, 
the clouds
and rhododendrons made it look much later. When I got to 
Davenport Gap,
it was dark. I stood on the gravel road, cold rain falling, 
Smokys mere
feet in front of me. "Felix" said the cheeseburger. "Yes?" I 
replied.
"Go to the light, boy". As I walked down the muddy road, I 
could feel
the magnificence of the Smokys to my right. I could smell 
them. It was
wonderful.

I walked what seemed like 6 hours in that rain and fog. It 
was only
about 45 minutes, though. When I could finally see the 
lights of Mt.
Moma's through the fog, I was happy. I walked in the door at 
15 minutes
'til 6. Every eye in the place was on me. A long-haired, 
long-bearded,
soaking wet hiker walks in an hour after dark? He's crazy. 
God, I love
being crazy.

"You got someplace where hikers stay?" I asked the silent room.
"Well, there's the bunkhouse," a bewildered woman said with 
bewilderment.
She said something to the man next to her and he left the room.
"Go to the pink bunkhouse and I'll get you a plate of food."
"How about one of those Texas Cheeseburgers" I thought. 
Well, I liked
the thought of it so well that I said it, too.
"The grille's closed. I'll get you a plate of food."

I went outside to wander around the parking lot in the 
pea-soup fog and
rain. I saw the bunkhouses, but couldn't tell which one was 
pink.
Finally, the man who had left the room walked up with a 
flashlight and
space heater and directed me to the pink bunkhouse. He told 
me to put on
some dry cloths and come back inside and get my food. I did. 
I looked at
the disposable cameras on the counter. I could not buy one. 
Luck was
taunting me. It knew that I had $11. It knew that my 'room' 
was $10. It
knew that Mt. Moma took no credit card. I took the single 
remaining
dollar and bought a Pepsi. I took my Pepsi and a picnic 
basket of food
with me back to the bunkhouse.

I cuddled up next to that space heater and ate. Ham, sweet 
potatoes,
dressing, green beans, cranberry sauce, rolls and the best 
cupcake I've
ever had. Easily, this was the most special Christmas Dinner 
of my life.
It was in a room no bigger than 10X10. I sat on the floor. I 
ate alone.
After dinner, I took a long, hot shower. Life was good. This 
night will
remain as one of the most special nights of the hike, and my 
life.



(Disclaimer: This is not open for comparison with anyone's 
girlfriend and his/her hike. This is just about my hike, 
which was very special to me....whether it was to anyone 
else, or not. Duck soup.)

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





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