Sunday, October 11, 2015

AT- Carvers Gap to Hwy 321

Lora and I headed back to the Appalachian Trail. We celebrated our fifth anniversary on the trail, we completed the four hundred mile mark on the AT, and we finished North Carolina. We would be farther on the AT, but we are too busy backpacking everywhere else.

Day One: 8.7 Miles
This time starting at Carvers Gap. The battle was on for a parking spot, but we found one in the back. This is a very popular area and with no parking then no hiking. The first two balds, Round and Jane, are very popular so you won't hike these alone. Once beyond Jane Bald you start to feel like you on the trail again. We took a quick break at Stan Murray shelter, but our goal was Bradley Gap for the first night. The sun was shining and it was hot for backpacking today, but the views were spectacular. We were pretty tired by the time we made camp. We met a few "Southbounders" today and would see more as we went.

We didn't spend long around the fire tonight, but were awakened all night long by wildlife heading through camp. Some were rabbits, deer, and coyotes. Got to listen to some owls and coyotes.

Day Two: 12.7 Miles
We started out today with the climb up Hump Mt. which is another grassy bald. We jumped up three deer on the way up to a wonderful 360 degree view of the mountains. We could look back at Roan Mt. and look over and see Grandfather Mt. From there we went down to Doll Flats where we left North Carolina for good. It was covered in Crab apples. The Apple House Shelter is no more, but we stopped at the site for lunch.

After crossing Hwy 19 we did lots of climbing. We ate apples as we went through old orchards. We saw another four point deer and more Southbounders. We had hiked to Jones falls in the past, so we didn't stop there. We continued on down to Elk River for the night and camped on the side of a field. We didn't stay up around the camp fire long tonight, as we were tired out again. Lora saw a deer in the field once when she got up and heard some owls.

Day Three: 12 Miles
Today was more a walk in the woods. We celebrated our fifth anniversary today and went over the 400 mile mark of the AT. We saw more Southbounders and one making 25 miles a day, stopped and showed us some pictures of the wild horses in Virginia. More apples and we scared up some grouse. There were lots of water crossings today and lots of campsites. When we ran out of campsites is when we realized we had passed ours. So we just kept on climbing and stayed by the Moreland Gap shelter. We met three great people from Virginia at the shelter. After we set up our camp and ate dinner, we joined them by the campfire. It was not too much longer before the rain set in for the night.

Day Four: 7.9 Miles
Today's big sight was Laurel Falls. It was a deep descent into the gorge on rock steps. Rough going for sure, but worth it to see the falls. The trail then curved around the rock walls on a very narrow trail along the river. After that was the climb out and up to the shelter which stood up on a rock ledge with drop offs all the way around it. Not a good place to camp, but had water. We stayed in the shelter as the rain started again and our friends from last night joined us.

Day Five: 6.8
Our walk out this morning started with a river walk and then the climb up Pine Mt. to Pond Flats. Three miles of up hill followed by the descent to Hwy 321. We did back and forth with our new friends on the way down. Our happy shuttle arrived with cookies. We enjoyed the ride back and dinner with Dad and Mom.

Total Miles: 48.1


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