Roan Highlands Trip Report
Length: 2.5 Days
Distance: 40 miles
Base Weight: 6.0 pounds
Weather: Sunny to Rain
High Temp: 55F
Low Temp: 28F
Dates: Nov 14-16, 2013
I wanted to post a quick trip report for the 40 mile section of the AT from Carver's Gap, TN to Kincora, Hostel. Early in the week I left a message at Kincora to arrange a shuttle from Bob Peoples. "Fat Chap" called me back and said that Bob was in Portugal for a month, but he could give me the shuttle to Carver's. I drove up from Raleigh Thursday morning arriving at Kincora a little before 11:00 am. Unfortunately a water pipe had just burst from the recently cold snap, but after getting it shut off I was shuttled to Carver's gap (45 minute drive).
Hiking to Jane Bald
I completed this trek back in 2011 but it was in the cover of fog so I missed the views that are said to be some of the most spectacular on the entire AT. Since then I have been eager to redo this section. Fortunately this time I was rewarded with a glorious day of sunshine and perfect hiking temps (~45 degrees). I started at Noon and I hiked about 12 miles reaching to Doll Flats at 6:10pm. The hike was took me past dark, but gave me an incredible sunset just past Bradley Gap. After sunset the moon provided adequate light, but I did take a spill on some ice breaking one of my hiking poles.
View from Balds
I setup camp in the woods at Doll Flats just past the field. The temperature dropped below freezing. I setup my bivy and tarp then lit a small fire. After cooking some hawk Vittles for dinner, sipping on some honey infused bourbon, and reading for a short snap I settled into my quilt for a nice night's sleep.
Camp Night #1 - Doll Flats
I woke up and hit the trail covering some 18 miles the next day. This section of the AT isn't too bad but does go up and down a fair amount. The trail crosses 19E the only significant road. After that it travels by Isaac Cemetery where the challenging lives of the nearby mountain community can be read by the head stones. Jones fall is worth the quick side trip. The day continued through the woods, passing a hunter, and a quick rest at Mountaineer falls shelter. This three level shelter is only a few years old and would be a great place to spend the night. I pressed on several miles to where the trail hits Laurel Fork and camped near the stream.
The rain was starting as I hit my camp around 4:30. I setup the tarp and bivy again and snuggled in. I always enjoy a rain storm under a tarp. I spent the late afternoon reading inside my quilt and bivy. I cooked dinner of Hawk Vittles Cowboy Pasta (great stuff). After finishing off my bourbon ration I settled into bed around 9:00pm. It rained for some time throughout the night, but stopped before dawn. The temps got right down to freezing but never dipped enough to snow.
Camp Night #2
My setup against the rain
I woke up at 6:30am, ate grits, and drank coffee enjoying the sounds of the creek from the warmth of my bivy and quilt. I hit the trail hiking the 10 miles back to Kincora. I passed a father and young son going south bound who were hiking like well oiled machines. I noticed they did not have much gear, but thought they must do this all the time because of the pace they held coming up what was about 2000 foot incline.
I hiked about 10 miles reaching the hostel around 1:30pm. I talked a bit with Baltimore Jack and learned that I had just missed a really neat kid, the youngest hiker to ever attempt the entire AT. His name is Buddy Backpacker and he is only 5 years old. Baltimore explained the mother was driving support and hauling gear to next location, but the son is completing the entire trail and he has now walked 1800 miles with 400 left to go. After getting home I googled him and found a picture and sure enough it was of the "father and son" hiking like a well oiled machine that I had passed earlier in the day. I completed my journey inspired by the efforts of a five year old boy. It was a really nice trip.