Wednesday morning dawned spectacularly clear and sunny and found us bright and early having breakfast of bacon and eggs with Anne, the B&B owner, who suggested some more local day hikes for us. They both sounded interesting but we were dead set on going to Roan Mountain, over on the NC-TN border. Although it was only a few miles away, it took well over an hour to reach, there being no direct routes through the high mountains. From Boone, NC you head west to Roan Mountain, TN before driving south back through Roan Mountain State Park to the parking lot just on the border of the two states.
We parked nominally in TN at about 5500 feet, but spent the majority of the day either straddling the border or in NC. As we approached the parking area, we climbed first to 4000 feet and then through 5000 feet, going from spring back to late winter in the process. The views into Tennessee on the way up were phenomenal and were a small taste of what we would see up on the mountain, especially when we topped out on Grassy Ridge Bald at 6189 feet.
From the parking area at Carver's Gap, the plan was to hike the AT north (trail north, compass east) up Round Bald, to Jane Bald, to Grassy Ridge Bald, have lunch there, then come back to the parking lot and hike Roan High Knob and Roan High Bluff (trail south, compass west) after lunch. With Ann's bum knee, however, we contented ourselves with the three grassy balds for a total of 6 miles on the day. We'll just have to do the rest of Roan Mountain on our next trip to the area.
|Start of Hike #16 of 2017|
|Starting in TN and Hiking the NC/TN Border|
|Conifers and Rhododendrons Against the Sky|
|Top of Round Bald, 5826 Feet High|
|Descending Towards Jane Bald|
|Trout Lily, Erythronium americanum|
|Wood Anemone, Anemone quinquefolia|
|Thyme-leaved Bluet, Houstonia serpyllifolia|
|Rocky Climb to Jane Bald|
|Round Bald, Roan High Knob Behind, from Jane Bald|
|More Rock Going up Jane Bald|
|From Jane Bald, Round Bald, Roan High Knob, Roan High Bluff|
|Who is This Jane?|
|South From Jane Bald|
|Also South from Jane Bald|
|The AT Heading South over Round Bald|
|Lazy Man's Blaze|
|More Balds to the North|
|Flag Tree Ascending Grassy Ridge Bald|
|Grassy Ridge Bald, 6189 Feet High|
|Our Lunch View Did Not Suck|
|Checking out the View|
|A Junco Trilling in Every Fir Tree|
|Grey Catbird at Carver's Cap|
As we stepped off the AT and prepared to go through the fence down to the road, I saw a couple of obvious thru hikers sitting on the side of the road. Well, actually, one was lying against the bank, shirt off, eyes closed, catching some rays. Clearly, Ann, a couple steps behind me, did not see them. Just as she came to the top of the steps down to the road, she exclaimed, "Oh God, there's a body!" as she sighted the shirtless one.
This got their attention and we all had a great laugh. They were Never Cool and Mitch and we chatted a few minutes and then I brought them a few oranges from the cooler in the car. I know just how good, after days on the trail, fresh fruit tastes. I've only ever been out on the trail for three weeks at a time, but I know that after about 4-5 days of trail food, I could eat an entire salad bar. We said our goodbyes, took the orange peels back to the car, and headed back into Tennessee on our way back to Boone.
It was late afternoon and we already had tentative plans to have salame, cheese, and a bottle of wine on the balcony of our room, looking out over the mountains as the sun set. With only a meager trail lunch in our bellies, we were pretty hungry, so I suggested a return visit to Appalachian Mountain Brewery and another small wood-fired pizza.
|Appalachian Mountain Brewery, Once Again|
|Farm 2 Flame Mobile Pizza Works|
|Male Downy Woodpecker|
|Wild Turkey Hen Below our Balcony|
|Chorizo, Goat Cheese and Barbaresco|