Nov 27, 2013 at 9:59 am #1310299
@jshorttLocale: North Carolina
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.
JamieDec 5, 2013 at 7:31 am #2051055
@pgasbyLocale: North Carolina
we missed a scout trip to Roan mountain this past summer – but hope to make it again at some point.
I'd love to do a small section like this with my son – helpful to understand the logistics of using a shuttle – i was not sure how do manage this without two cars and my son doesn't drive! How does one locate/source hostels and parties willing to provide a shuttle for a section hike absent additional family support.Dec 5, 2013 at 6:11 pm #2051303
@jshorttLocale: North Carolina
Phillip, Great question on how the shuttle works. I believe there are several shuttles in the area, but I have used Kincora (Bob Peoples) both times I did this section. All you need to do is call Bob up in advance (423-725-4409) and let him know what day and time you will arrive and where you need the shuttle to. For this 40 miles section you need to ask for a shuttle to Carvers gap. You show up at Bob's place (1278 Dennis Cove Road, Hampton, TN) at that time you told him and he will drive you to Carver's gap. It takes about an hour. You can park at the hostel. Bob charges $35 to shuttle a car load of people (1+). Check to make sure this is still the right price.
You hike back 40 miles to your car and drive home. You can shower and maybe chat with some thru-hikers. Take time to look around the hostel and see the hundred of pictures cover walls and ceilings of people who have stayed with Bob, finished the trail, and sent back picture from Katahdin.
JamieDec 5, 2013 at 7:04 pm #2051328
Enjoyed your report, Jamie. I did the area a few years ago in October and the colors were spectacular I hear it's awfully pretty in June when the rhododendron are out too.Dec 6, 2013 at 7:17 am #2051473
@pgasbyLocale: North Carolina
Jamie – thanks for the insight! Really helpful and it makes a couple day trip like this manageable – I'm still somewhat new to the experience and it remains a learning process on each trip (although I suppose on some level I hope I'm always learning something new!)Dec 6, 2013 at 7:22 am #2051476
Phillip, AWOL's AT Guide is 20 bucks and gives you lots of good info about the trail and town logistics like shuttles, hostels, and food. You can buy it online direct. Its a pretty good resource. Well worth the $20.
You can always hitch a ride too. Its easier than you think, but maybe not with a big group.Dec 24, 2013 at 4:05 pm #2057405
@leadfootLocale: Middle Virginia
Great post, Jamie. I was looking at this very hike for sometime next year. I'm not too fond of shelters so did you find it possible to just stealth camp or camp away from the shelter area?May 21, 2014 at 1:12 pm #2104803
@tpeterson1959Locale: Pacific Northwest
Just an update on Buddy Backpacker.
My wife and I ran into them while in the San Bernardino Mountains in Southern California. Buddy completed the AT as a five year old and is now attempting the PCT at the ripe old age of six.
He's hiking the trails of his own volition and is fortunate enough to have parents who are willing to support him. He's a great kid, very personable, and very at ease with life.
His mother told us the day before we ran into them, they had completed their first 25 mile day. Buddy calmly, politely, and proudly corrected his mother, "twenty five point two miles."
He says he wants to complete the CDT next year!
I have never been so envious of a six year old in my entire life! :)
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