Day 46 -April 22 2017- 15.6 miles – Clyde Smith Shelter to Overmountain Shelter
The day started with an immediate climb up Little Rock Knob. As we were going up we had some partial views into the valley below.
The top of Little Rock Knob had some nice views as well.
After the 500 foot climb to the top of Little Rock Knob we began a 900 foot descent to Hughs Gap. The skies began to cloud over..
Once we got to Hughs gap it was time to begin our 2200 foot ascent into the Roan Highlands. Something I had been looking forward to for a while.
When I had looked at the guidebook in the morning I realized we would be going over 6000 feet again. I hadn’t realized we had any more 6000 footers left until New Hampshire. That was an exciting surprise.
The trail topped out at 6212 feet but there weren’t any views to speak of. Whatever views there might have been were completely obscured by the clouds. We did see an old chimney though.
Not long after we passed the chimney we got to a side trail that led to the highest shelter on the AT. We had to check it out.
The inside of the shelter was dark, dank, and smelled like rodents were living there. Stoat popped his head up into the second floor and said,” Nope. Not going up there” I decided that I wasn’t interested in going up there either and we went back outside.
We began to eat lunch when Zeus and a hiker named Write-a-check joined us. Write-a-check was ex military and had been deployed overseas. He was hiking the trail to decompress. His plan was to Yo-Yo the Appalachian trail. That meant he was going to hike from Georgia to Maine, turn around, and hike back to Georgia. He got his name because he would plan to hike an absurd amount of miles each day but wind up hiking slightly more realistic miles. He would “write a check” his body couldn’t cash.
The wind has picked up and it had started to drizzle. A sign to get moving as soon as we could.
When we got back to the AT we saw Drop Top stopping for a break. He asked us if we had seen Bear Bait. We hadn’t. He decided he would keep going so we wound up hiking together for a while.
From the shelter the trail descended around 700 feet to route 143. A little bit before we reached the road we saw a paper plate that said ” Trail magic – Soda and ice cream” with an arrow pointing down a side trail. The sign looked a little sketchy and Stoat and I joked that it looked like a trap. How do you lure a thru hiker in? With promises of soda and ice cream of course!
Once we got to the road we realized there was a parking lot nearby. Maybe that sign wasn’t a trap after all. We walked over to the parking lot and we saw a familiar vehicle. It was a white camper with a big AT logo on the side. The same one we got a ride in on our seventh day on the trail. As we walked up Onesimus popped his head out the window and asked us if we wanted soda and ice cream. Is wasn’t a trap after all.
We reminded Onesimus that he gave us a ride into Helen, Georgia and we talked about what happened since we last met. After eating we thanked him and got going. It looked like bad weather was rolling in.
For the next 2.5 miles we would be going over treeless hills that the Roan Highlands are famous for. We were excited to see the views but didn’t want to be on an exposed ridgeline at 5800 feet during a thunderstorm.
We quickly went up the first climb. The wind became pretty intense but the surrounding landscape was beautiful.
As soon as the trail departed from the exposed ridgeline it began to rain.
It rained pretty hard but it didn’t last very long and we began the 1200 foot descent to our stopping point for the day. The skies cleared a little and we could see that the Roan highlands were still partially clouded over.
3.5 miles later we arrived at the side trail to the Overmountain shelter. As we went down the side trail we could see the shelter off in the distance. The cool thing about the Overmountain shelter is that is was an old barn converted into a shelter for hikers. The bad thing is that it was a very popular place to camp. When we got there there was a troop of Boy Scouts set up in the shelter. There was still some room for thru hikers but Stoat and I decided to setup our hammocks instead.
It wasn’t a big deal as we preferred to sleep in our hammocks anyway.
For some reason I didn’t take a picture of the outside of the barn, but the view from the shelter was pretty cool.
Drop Top and Bear Bait setup in the shelter. Zeus was there too. There was also a woman named Mary Poppins who was hiking with her small dog Arty. Seeing dogs on trail was always a treat.
Turkey and Godzilla setup their tent in the field and Stoat and I hung our hammocks in a grove of trees. The trees didn’t look too welcoming.
The boy scouts threw a frisbee around for a while and then tried to start a fire without the help of the scout leaders. It seemed like the Scout Leaders were content with watching the kids play around instead of instructing them how to do anything. Maybe it was their last day of their trip. The kids were well behaved though and went to bed without a problem.
Stoat and I just did over 5000 feet of elevation change over 15.6 miles. Even with all the breaks it still only took us 7 hours to do. Before we went to bed, we marveled at how good we felt. It barely felt like we hiked at all.