Thursday, October 25, 2012
Return to the Appalachian Trail - Hughes Gap to 19E (Roan Mtn, TN)
This past weekend I took my first trip back on the AT. There were a number of emotions that ran through my head as I set foot back on a trail that I spent so much time on and had such a great time experiencing. I would be lying if I said that I didn't want to be back out there for the long haul heading to Kahtadin, but my short time spent hiking was a beautiful experience.
Once again I started one of my favorite sections in the Southeast from Mountain Harbor B&B and Hostel. The proprietors are wonderful people and offer accommodations, food and shuttles to various places locally. I actually was fortunate enough to run into a wave of Southbound AT hikers while there and reminisced about the experiences we had while out hiking.
I was dropped off at Hughes Gap which is at the base of Roan Mountain. From here you will have a pretty good climb ascending about 2200 feet over 2.5 miles. It's a pretty good climb, but you will be rewarded with a spectacular view from the old site of the Cloudland Hotel on a clear day. I typically spend about an hour at this location to relax, eat a meal and enjoy the views. I find myself wondering what it would have been like to spend a weekend at this location/hotel during its hay day.
From here I climbed down Roan Mtn to Carvers Gap passing Roan High Knob Shelter. The shelter is the highest on the AT and notoriously the coldest. I have stayed here once in the past and noticed that it was infested with spiders. It is a double decker shelter that once was used as a fire watchtower station (the tower has been removed, but you can still see the foundation blocks).
Carvers Gap is a good starting point for hiking with ample parking, restrooms and a water source. You will get a nice view of the balds that you are about to traverse from this location and on a clear day you will get 360 degree views from both Round Bald and Jane Bald.
After a good day of hiking and fortunate weather I made my way to OverMountain Shelter. It is an old barn that can house a small army. I usually set my tent up in the clear just outside the shelter so I can get a good view of the sunrise when I wake up. As usual I was not disappointed.
Coming out of the shelter you will have a little bit of a climb. Although a tough way to start the morning the view back at the Shelter is amazing. It really looks like something out of a magazine. With the views of the valley in addition the climb will not seem quite as bad.
Your hard work will not go in vain as you approach Little Hump and Hump Mountains. Once again both are balds that offer 360 degree views on clear days with a good look at Grandfather Mountain in the distance.
Once traversing the summit of Hump Mountain it will be all downhill. I will warn you that the trail gets rocky at times and somewhat slick in icy weather so plan accordingly.
Although the video I put together shows some of the highlights of this trip it is hard to get a true sense for the scenery and magic of nature this hike provides. The best advice I can give is to Get Out and Hike this section of Trail for yourself!!! I assure that you will not be disappointed.