Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Wonders of a Tennessee Section Hike

I have hiked what I consider the gem of the Appalachian Trail in the south – meandering over the Roan Highlands. The trip that began at Spivey Gap and ended at Rt 19E covered
such beautiful areas as the Nolichucky River, Beauty Spot, Unaka Mountain at over 5,000 feet, then the tall peak of Roan at over 6,000 feet and the highest shelter on the trail – Roan High Knob. It included the balds of the Roan Highlands, a farewell to the red barn of the Overmountain shelter (as it is now closed), and then traversing the majesty of the Humps for more stellar views. I am happy to share it with you.

Day One – Spivey Gap to Temple Hill Gap 7.6 miles
I am using this hike to test both back and knee that have suffered from several incidents not of my making. I had left off here six years previous and was glad to finally be back as I work to complete my third hike of the AT. This day I had originally planned to go all the way to Erwin for the
Near Erwin
night, but with the long trip here, played it safe and only did a little over seven to a campsite. Skeeters were out in force, requiring me to don my headnet (and thankful I had it).

Day Two – Temple Hill Gap to Deep Gap near Beauty Spot 16 miles
Beauty Spot
No, I was not planning to go so far on day two, thinking had had just gone to Beauty Spot Gap for 15 miles. But the next day proved me wrong when I began a severe ascent of Unaka Mtn. Still, found a campsite in this area with water coming out of a pipe. Saw a flip-flop thru hiker atop Beauty Spot. Earlier that day I ran into a friend hiking who told me about a bees nest at a footbridge and water from the pipe, and very glad for both means of intel. The hiker grapevine of knowledge is a wonder.

Day Three – Deep Gap at Beauty Spot to Clyde Smith Shelter 14 miles

Unaka Mountain
Had a lovely time among the pines and some cool breezes atop Unaka Mtn as it has been rather warm out and I was sweating quite a bit. The rest of the day was spent hiking over assorted “PUDS” (pointless ups and downs in trail lingo). In an old orchard I found an apple to eat. Saw two more southbound hikers out. Got water at Greasy Creek and onward the shelter site where the camping spots were marred by many roots. Hard to find a flat, non-rooty spot.  

Day Four – Clyde Smith Shelter to Overmountain camping area 15.6 miles

Roan High Knob Shelter

Nice climb up Roan MT to more breezes and the scent of spruce to check out the highest shelter on the AT – Roan High Knob. Unfortunately the spring was all but dried, with just a few cups of water from a pine-filled puddle to carry me through to the next campsite. Descended to Carver’s gap and enjoyed talking to many of the visitors who were fascinated about my backpacking as I climbed the balds to beautiful views. Also chatted with a triple crowner who had met me when I did ridgerunning
Overmountain Camping
in Shenandoah Nat’l Park (small, small world out there!). Walked through much blooming snakeroot to Overmountain where they have closed off the barn but left camping open. Again the campsites were not very good – few flat areas with sloping, pit-filled ground. The tent got very wet out in the grassy areas, but wow, the views were lovely.

Day Five – Overmountain Camping to Rt 19e  9.6 miles
Left early after a rough night (could not get comfortable) – and headed over the scenic Humps to outstanding views. Really enjoyed
The Humps
the time though I was tired. Ended up at Mountain Harbor Hostel and said hello to the owner while admiring all they have to offer hikers.

This is an excellent section hike for good views.

Want to read more about my other adventures on the AT? Like my two night stay at the Overmountain Barn with no food, bad weather, and a hungry teenager by my side? Check out

Mountains, Madness and Miracles – 4000 Miles Along the Appalachian Trail!

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