[at-l] 1599

rcli4 at comcast.net rcli4 at comcast.net
Sun Jan 5 19:52:49 CST 2014

I was missin the Christmas Eve story, well just about Christmas Eve.... 

----- Original Message -----

From: "Felix J" <athiker at smithville.net> 
To: "at-l" <AT-L at backcountry.net> 
Sent: Sunday, January 5, 2014 9:07:45 AM 
Subject: [at-l] 1599 

I know it's not customary to post hiking-related things, old or new, to a...hiking list. 
But, I'm gonna do it anyway. Even though it may not live up to the standards of some, and 
some may have friends, imaginary or otherwise, who could have done it better...I'm gonna 
say 'What the hell' and post this anyway. 


Three thru-hikers were nervously, quietly, 
loading their backpacks for the last time. Again, it was 5º or less. 
There were no lollies being gagged. I would occasionally ask if they 
intended on doing any yellow-blazing in the last 7.6 miles. They'd laff. 
There was an odd feeling in the air. The feeling that you are doing 
something for the last time, like loading a backpack, is bittersweet. We 
had loaded these backpacks every morning for 5 months. This was the last 
time. This was the last time. 

We left the shelter together. I was so glad that 
I'd slept with my boots in my bag with me. There were a couple of inches 
of dry snow on the ground. It was still cold. QP and I hiked in front. 
At some point, not far from the shelter, out of nowhere, there were 
footprints in the snow. This was confusing to me. They were going the 
same direction we were. 

I pulled away from the others a bit. As I got to Stover Creek, I caught 
the footprint-leaving hiker. He was doing something near Stover Creek 
that shouldn't be done near any creek. I, then the others, advised him 
of that. I honestly think he didn't know there was anything wrong with 
it. Lesson? You can always teach. 

This other guy had started a section hike and nearly made it to Hawk Mt. 
Shelter on his second night. He was within a quarter of a mile and said 
that he was feeling delirious. So, he pitched his tent. That is why his 
footprints seemed to come from nowhere. He had decided to cancel the 
rest of his trip and head back to Amicalola. (Did I mention that it was 
cold?) He hiked the rest of the way to Springer with me and the boyz. 

As we hiked, I'd yell stuff. I tried to count the 'tenths' in my head. 
So, when I thought we had about 6.5 miles to go, I'd yell "You got 6.5 
in ya?" They'd yell back that they did in some profanity-laced way. 
Then, I'd say "What is it? Give it to me!!!" And they'd say "6.4 baby". 
I know this sounds foolish now. At the time, it was humorously exciting. For 
me, it is very exciting now, though. This went on all morning. 

When we got to FS 42, my friend and ride, Pittsburgh, was there with a 
warm van. .9 miles to go. Imagine that. .9 miles to go. (well, 1.8 
really.) QP and Windbraker ( a spelling that allowed me to ridicule 
Tennesseeans relentlessly.) decided to leave their packs in Pittsburgh's 
van (something else that allowed me to ridicule them relentlessly.) 

We crossed our last parking lot, then our last road. Every positive 
emotion, and two bad ones, were in the air. It was an incredible 
feeling. I still yelled out occasionally, and they'd yell back. "You got 
six tenths in ya, you slackpackin' bastards?" 

There it is. That rock there, 30 yards ahead. That rock is what I just 
spent 5 months and 5 days, thousands of dollars, and 2,160.3 miles 
walking to. "You're kidding?" No, no I'm not. With fists clinched and 
high over my head, I took my last steps to the rock. It looked just like 
I remembered it. It looked just like I wanted it to. A bent knee and a 
kiss and it was over. What had become my life, a wonderful life, was 
over with that kiss. That is something that doesnt' happen much in the 
secular world. Reaching a definite, visible end to an undertaking, an 
'accomplishment', with a sign or plaque that says, in essence, "Either 
do it again, or do something else. This one's done." 
What does that mean? I don't know. But that's what happens. 

I was surprised how much I enjoyed having QP and Windbraker there. It 
was wonderful to have someone else that had experienced the same things 
there with me. Our hugs were earned, deserved. I took the register from 
the rock. I sat down and started to write my entry. I had thought about 
this entry for over two months. I was going to write an open letter to 
those that had a profound affect on my life. My parents, my brother, my 
ex-wife, Elmer, Scooter, Lizzie, a few other randoms here and there, 
Patch, Groovin' Moose, Luke and Jane, Sundown...Pokey and Stoat...I was 
going to write something to each of them explaining what they meant to me. 
Here is what I wrote: 

Your Move 
Felix J. McGillicuddy 
ME -->GA '98 

I then drew the faces of my three cats (Elmer, Lizzie and Scooter) and 
a paw print. I had done this at the end of every entry (for years). 
There is a picture that was taken seconds before this happened at: 

God, what a thru-hike I had. 

When I got home, I ate ice cream...and I still do... 

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

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