[at-l] Sistine

Frank Looper nightwalker.at at gmail.com
Tue Dec 23 09:40:50 CST 2014

Thanks. My favorite Christmas story.
On Dec 23, 2014 10:36 AM, "Felix J" <athiker at smithville.net> wrote:

> 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,
> 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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