We woke up behind the Clyde Smith shelter this morning to half of the hikers already gone. We knew what lay ahead for our hike, so we packed and started breakfast — oatmeal for me and and coffee for Tandem. After munching on cereal and banana chips, we loaded up and were on the trail by 9:15.
We climbed right out of huge campsite up 400 tough feet to the top of Little Rock Knob. There was a trail re-route planned going around an easier way, per orange pennants we saw, but we were happy to do it the rock climbing route straight up. Then came a big 1000 foot drop. During the downhill, we met three trail maintenance guys using hoes to improve the drainage runoff ditches. Just before I hit the bottom at Hughes Gap and TN 1330, I met a trail angel coming up with signs to put in the Clyde Smith shelter to advertise her special trail food plans in Hughes Gap for Easter morning. DARN!
Then we started our hardest climb of the day to the top of Roan Mountain, covering 2200 feet in four miles. We saw icicles on many rocks and some snow still on the ground near the top. The temperature also seemed to drop about 10 degrees, back down to freezing. We skipped the walk out to Roan High Knob shelter, which is the highest shelter on the AT at 6194 feet. Then it was all downhill to Carver Gap. It is on the TN/NC state line, just as we had been hiking along for many miles.
We had been here in the past with Len Savini and his daughter Caroline when the girls were about 12. We had hiked a mile up the AT then and camped in rainy weather. Today the weather was cloudy and chilly.
We went around to the daily use parking lot and caught the eye of a couple having lunch at the back of their pickup truck. As I passed to check the bathroom, they offered us PB&J sandwiches, chips, bananas, and bottled water. We accepted and had a surprise individual trail angel type of lunch. We talked about thru hiking the AT and other topics. They are from north Charlotte and were there to day hike Roan Knob without their kids. We thanked them and loaded back up in the chilly air.
We then had 5.3 miles to the Overmountain shelter. We rolled along and up the knobs until we reached the downhill to the shelter, which is an old red barn with sleeping quarters upstairs in the loft. We arrived there at 17:00, got water, and cooked chicken and broccoli pasta, with extra chicken thrown in. It was very filling. There were several section hikers there and about a dozen thru hikers, including 19 and Bubba. Some are tented outside, but we opted for the loft due to a 30% chance of rain overnight.
We haven’t decided yet how far we plan to go tomorrow. We climb early in the morning over Little Hump and Hump Mountains, and then it is downhill to Elk Park, where we will restock at the Mountain Harbour Hostel. After that, the terrain stays within 1000 feet and rolls up and down easily, so we’ll hike until we feel tired.