Wednesday, October 8, 2014
AT - Devils Fork Gap to Carvers Gap
Appalachian Trail - Devils Fork Gap to Carvers Gap in six days 67.8 miles.
The trail head was a Stile over a farm fence and just on the other side was an apple tree with ripe apples. What a way to get going. Our packs were heavy with eight days worth of food including a foot long Subway hanging on the back of mine for tonight's dinner.
It didn't take long for us to get our rain gear on to start the hike right and off we went. At 1.8 we were at 4000 feet at Sugarloaf Gap. Fog had rolled in so no good views. We hiked to the Hogback Ridge Shelter for the night. We were thinking about maybe staying in the shelter, but Rare Breed from Louisiana and Mike from Chicago where already there. Rare Breed was a Southbound through hiker, which were just now coming through this area. We set up our tent, ate, and called it a night. 6.1 miles.
We got up to Mike telling us it was morning. We got on the trail not long after him. Not too far until our first view of the mountains from a vista just off the trail. We went up to High Rock (4,460 ft) for another great view and then caught up to Mike coming out of Sam's Gap. He hiked with us until lunch time. We climbed up from the trail and found ourselves standing in someones back yard. As we ate, some bird tagging people came through and said that they would see us up on Big Bald.
After lunch, as usual, we climbed. Went up to 5,516 feet to Big Bald. We noticed icicles on the trees. Lot's of great views from there. The next hill was Big Stamp where they had nets set up to tag birds. There was a group up there and they had already caught a few. The nets stay up there and they had had problems with the nets freezing in the closed position. On the way down we passed Bald Mountain Shelter where Mike was planning on staying. Never did see him again.
We hiked on to Whistling Gap to camp for the night. When we went to the spring, we found it dry so we climbed down a little further, across an old roadbed, and into the Rhododendron to find water. We sat around a fire that night and listened to a Great Horned owl. I talked back to him and got him to come closer, Later that night we woke to a screech owl talking to us. 13.5 miles.
We decided to start the day with a climb as if we didn't every day. We climbed up to High Rocks at 4,100 feet for a view. There was a car parked at Spivey Gap and we found it to belonged to some trail Maintainers who we met further up the mountain. The were with the Tennessee Eastman Hiking and Canoe Club and were lopping some branches.
We have seen our first concrete block shelter. No Business Knob shelter has a concrete foundation and block walls. Now that took some work! We ate lunch at the shelter and then headed to Erwin, TN. You get some good high views of Erwin before you drop the 1500 feet over two and a quarter miles down to the Nolichucky River. At the bridge we saw a few hikers at Uncle Johnny's Hostel. We continued the 1.2 miles to the Nolichucky Gorge Campground. Here we were met with some very friendly people. They even invited us to a potluck Spaghetti dinner that they do every Sunday.
After we showered and put on some fresh clothes, we spent the evening eating and visiting with a group including a great campfire. The campground is under new management which they say the old manager was against thru hikers. 14.7 miles.
The day started with a 2300 foot climb to get started. We passed a doe that was just staring at us. She just stood there watching us as we went by. Acorns were like marbles on the trail. We passed Curley Maple Gap shelter, another block structure. As we were going down to Indian Grave Gap four backpackers with very large grins on their faces told us that there was a trail angel at the road. We were served sweet tea, banana bread, and brownies. He also had coffee and an a assortment of fruit. He said that this was his ministry and did it every weekday. It was SOOO good!
As we climbed from the road to the Beauty Spot, the bottom dropped out. The wind was strong and it was pretty miserable out for the climb. We get a view from the top with the clouds coming over the mountains, but no pics. You will have to look at our pics from our last visit to this area. We continued on scaring two more deer to Deep Gap for the night. Lora's rain jacket gave up and started leaking. Guess who's going shopping after this trip? We had a good piped spring here. No fire as the rain continued through the night. Hunters drove the road through the evening and morning hours. 12.1 miles.
Today we started out with a climb. Unaka Mountain is 5,180 feet. We passed Cherry Gap shelter and climbed Little Bald Knob where we had lunch and dried out our equipment. We passed some other hikers and headed down to Iron Mountain Gap. After the gap the rain began again. We passed through the apple orchard and ate us some apples. Yummy good! The wind was crazy strong and we finally found a large rock to take shelter under.
The wind continued all the way to Greasy Creek Gap where we stayed the night. We were out of the strong wind, so we dried all our gear out and had a good campfire. There was a piped spring for our water. We heard owls as we went to sleep and then hear the rain all night long again. 12.2 miles.
After treating blisters, Lora was going to call it day today. We hiked lots of ups and downs today. Roan High Bluff is at 6,200 feet. The closer we got to Roan Mountain the more people we saw. We stopped on the climb for some lunch. Somewhere on the climb up Roan Mountain a buck passed us on the down hill side. He was plumb getting it and got a good jump out of us. We had a few good startles from grouse as well.
When we got up to where the old Cloudland Hotel used to stand, we tried to get a phone signal out with no luck. A man came by and told us that the road was closed from Carver's Gap. He had a book in his car with the phone number to the Mountain Harbour Hostel. So we hiked down to Carver's Gap and went down the row of cars to find his. He left the book in the window of his car for us to get the number. As we were looking another couple asked if we needed anything. Turns out they were staying at the Roan Mountain State Park and gave us a ride to the hostel. The Owner of the B&B recognized us from our stay a few years ago. You have to do her breakfast there even if you are not hiking! As we were signing in, a young man was trying to get a ride back to Uncle Johnny's. So we shared the shuttle to Uncle Johnny's and then he gave us a ride back to our car at Devils Fork Gap. It is amazing how everything works out. God is Good! We drove to Hot Springs and had dinner at Still Mountain Restaurant and Pub. Really good food. After dinner we asked the waitress where a good motel was and she said here. Really? yes out back they run the Creekside Court Motel. OK and good for us! 10.4 miles.