"Lazarus", "Hoss" and "Newton" set out on the AT from Indian Grave Gap on Monday May 31st after being shuttled there from the Mount Rogers Hostel in Damascus, VA.
Stiles are still evident on the AT although this one near Beauty Spot is no longer necessary since the fence is now open.
We spent our first night at a full Cherry Gap Shelter. I counted approximately 15 tents to go along with a full shelter. I was the only hiker that I saw using a tarp.
I was dry and comfortable through the night using my MYOG tarp, bivy and top quilt. Success! This was the shakedown cruise for these pieces of my gear. :-)
This tree made quite an impression on me. I call it the Great Grandfather Tree. It was tall, strong, quite "experienced" and deserving of respect.
We left Cherry Gap Shelter and hiked on to the Greasy Creek Friendly Hostel. We had a thoroughly enjoyable stay there. Connie is an excellent host. She is known for her salads and she provided us with a wonderful breakfast before shuttling us to the trailhead at Hughes Gap the next morning.
The next 3.3 miles would see us climb 2,235 feet up to Roan High Knob Shelter. This was the highest elevation that we would see on our trek. We spent the night at Roan in the full shelter with many other hikers and saw the temperature plummet from the mid 70's down to the high 40's during the night.
We awoke the next morning to the beauty of the picture below.
We left Roan and walked on to Little Hump Mountain above Carver's Gap. Roan's peak is in the clouds and Carver's Gap is that small piece of road as viewed from the top of Little Hump Mtn.
After Little Hump Mtn. came Big Hump Mtn.
Despite appearances I found Big Hump Mtn. an easier climb than its little brother.
We hiked on to Overmountain Shelter where we were treated to views like these while we filtered water and cooked supper.
We spent the night there with at least four other hikers. At least one thru hiker came in late and left before sunrise.
Before turning in for the night we were treated to the sight of a Whitetail doe at dusk grazing in the meadow and later fireflies dancing around in the dark.
We slept on an open deck under the shelter's roof without the need of bug spray or bug nets. This amazed me being from the flatland of Louisiana. :-O
In the morning we were treated to a spectacular sunrise.
I saw a bird this same morning with a huge wingspan flying over the valley off in the distance. I believe it was an eagle although it never got close enough for a really good view or picture.
Our stay at Overmountain Shelter
was quite an enjoyable experience.
We left Overmountain Shelter and hiked on to Mountain Harbour Hostel for our mail drop/resupply.
We were shuttled to a great pizza place in town from the hostel for supper. Wood fired, brick oven pizza at $10.00 per pizza with your choice of just cheese or the whole menu of toppings and no price increase! We let them put everything on our pizzas. They were great.
We spent two nights at Mountain Harbour. We intended to only spend one night but we decided to zero out one day to take advantage of the breakfast buffet put on by Mary at Mountain Harbour.
Mary requires at least four diners and reasonable notice to make preperations before she will set out the breakfast buffet.
If you are hiking through this area, Don't Miss It! Hike in groups of four if at all possible. :-)
Upon leaving we had quite a turn of events in store for us. We encountered a portion of the AT that has been re-routed onto a jeep trail. Somehow we missed a blaze and got lost. :-( Later we would find out that three different groups of hikers got lost in this same area "3" different ways! After regaining our bearings we pressed on for a total of 12+ miles.
At Jones Falls the three of us spent an hour or so taking pictures, videos and generally acting like five years olds playing in and around the falls.
The cascading waters of the falls are just beautiful.
The last four or so miles of this day were done in a driving rain. We ended our day at Abby's Place soaking wet after fording a swollen stream. As we walked into the clearing at Abby's the rain stopped and the sun appeared. Amazing! :-)
We attempted to dry out our clothes, shoes, boots and ourselves. After cooking and eating supper we turned in for the night with our sights set on another 12+ mile day and the Kincora Hiking Hostel at Dennis Cove.
At Kincora we caught up with other hikers we had met along the trail and laughed about the many different ways we had gotten lost on that "jeep trail detour". We washed and dried our clothes, ate supper and turned in for the night.
Our earlier zero day had set us back on our schedule. We decided that instead of "racing" through 50 miles of the AT in the four days that we had left we would shuttle ahead to the trailhead at US 421, Low Gap.
Bob Peoples, owner and proprietor of Kincora, shuttled us to Low Gap. If you ever get the chance to meet and talk with Bob don't pass it up. He is a joy to talk with and a true friend of the trail and its hikers.
Our plan was to hike from Low Gap to Abingdon Gap Shelter stay there and hike into Damascus, VA the next day after experiencing the "Tennesee Turnpike".
Along the way we passed by a Holiday Inn Express.
We almost missed it as the sign is a little hard to read.
After lunch at Abingdon Gap Shelter we decided to not camp and press on to Damascus for our longest day's mileage of 15 miles.
We celebrated our high mileage day at Quincey's in Damascus with smokehouse burgers, beer, soft drinks and dessert. Lazarus and I enjoyed the adult beverages. Hoss, Laz's 15 year old son stuck with the soft drinks.
We helped close the place up for the night (approximately 9:pm) :-) and walked across the street to spend one more night at the Mount Rogers Hostel before getting on the road to head back home. We did a little souvenir shopping and hit the road for home.
Home is a good place! :-)
We brought back some souvenirs, pictures and many great memories.
We plan to do it again and add another section of the AT to our resume'.