[at-l] Sieving Tin

Felix J athiker at smithville.net
Wed Dec 23 05:40:43 CST 2015

(disclaimer:  I know this is AT-related and about a 
hike...my hike.....and....oh, never mind....)

Roaring Fork Shelter  12/22/98-12/23/98

Sometime during my conversation with my psychologist 
shelter-mate he asked me what my plans for the next day 
were. I told him that I was probably going to Davenport Gap 
Shelter, which was where he'd started his section hike 3 
days earlier. He said, confusedly, "That's 22 miles." I said 
"Yeah, I know". And it was at that moment that I realized 
that I had become a pretty good hiker. It is a wonderfully 
liberating feeling to know that you can hike 22 miles or 
more if you want to. and, that you don't really have to know 
it until you're doing it. I liked that. I had hiked 22+ 
miles many times. I just never realized I wasn't afraid of 
doing 22+ miles.

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 Carolina and Eastern 
Tennessee" 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 loved 
being crazy.

"You got someplace where hikers stay?" I asked.
"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.

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

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