Backpacking the Roan Highlands, Part II
Our second day we woke up to fog lifting out of the valley, birds singing, soft morning light and a cool breeze. We really took our time making breakfast (Mountain House scrambled eggs and bacon) and coffee and packing up camp. We didn't even start hiking until 9:30! We joked about the fact that we were the first up and the last out for that morning which was fine, we weren't in a hurry at all. Originally I had planned for this trip to be about 25 miles long but after discovering Elk River Falls I cut down our milage significantly so we could drop in later on Friday. We realized after hiking almost 6 miles in a few short hours on Friday afternoon we would be able to knock out the remaining miles the next day easy. So, we were off. From the Overmountain Shelter you'll have a few pretty steady uphills with portions of level ground until you reach Hump Mountain. I worked up a sweat within minutes of leaving the campground but it wasn't anything too hard. At about mile 8 of the day my feet started aching. I've always read about how your feet feel like they're going to fall off the first few days you backpack- no matter what kind of shoe you wear- but this was my first real time experiencing this sensation. Over the course of the day we passed through forests, thickets of mountain laurel (I even saw some blooming??), and over big grassy balds. About .5 miles away from 19E (our end point) a thunderstorm opened up on us and we got soaked to the bone! A very kind couple drove us from the end of the trail to the hostel which was .2 miles up the road so we wouldn't have to walk in the storm on the side of a mountain road. Once back at the shelter (we arrived around 4:00pm) we took nice hot showers, changed into dry clothes and set off to find some food and beer. For the remainder of the evening we decided to relax at the hostel and get a good nights sleep before heading out to do one last hike the next morning then head home to Virginia! The little hostel is darling. It's an old barn that's been renovated into a hostel and while I don't have much experience staying in hostels, the other backpackers there assured us this was one of the nicer hostels you can stay in off the AT. There's a back porch with rocking chairs that looks out over a little stream and fields behind it, there's lots of space inside with 6 single beds and one king sized bed, two bathrooms, a kitchen area and another patio out front. It was wonderful and I can't say enough nice things about Mountain Harbor Hostel!
Well, that's it for our short little trip. Next time we visit we want to take the guys with us but until then I'll have these little posts to look back on. My next post will be on the short hike we did Sunday morning to Rough Ridge off the BRP before heading home. I hope everyone has a great weekend :)