AThiker at smithville.net
Thu Jan 5 08:19:09 CST 2012
Thirteen years ago this morning, 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
Tennesseans 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:
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
ALT '03 KT '03
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