Section 18 (AT in a Day)

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US 321/Rt.67 in Hampton, Tenn to US Rt.19W near Emestville - 91.2 miles

Section Chief: Melanie Parnon '13

US 321 to US 19E/Roan Mountain, Tenn. - 33 miles

Hiker: Mark Cichonski

Trip report

US 19E/Roan Mountain, Tenn. to Hughes Gap/Rt.1330 - 19.6 miles

Hiker: Richard Belding

Please find a narrative attached, as well as some photos...great day, but the weather didn't cooperate as much as I would have hoped!

Of the images,

0700 - taken at the summit of Jane Bald (elev. 5,807 ft.), a little over a mile north of Carvers Gap.

0706 - taken on the slope of Grassy Ridge, about a mile and half north of Carvers Gap.

0725 - taken on the trail descending from Hump Mountain to U.S. 19 E.

0716 - taken amid a herd of longhorn cattle, in meadows on the north side of Hump Mountain (elev. 5,587 ft.).

Friday, October 9th, was a beautiful day in Erwin, Tennessee, with blue skies and temperatures in the upper 80s, unusually warm for this time of year. But the weather reports promised an abrupt change for the next day. Friday night, a heavy band of storms moved east across Tennessee into North Carolina, and the area was under a tornado watch for part of the night. I got an early start on Saturday morning, and the route to the trailhead, right on the Tennessee-North Carolina border, was cloaked in mist or low clouds. It seemed appropriate that early on, the trail passed the site of the old Cloudland Hotel and the extensive Cloudland rhododendron growth for which this area is known. The gain in elevation from Hughes Gap going north past Roan High Knob was noticeable, more than 2,000 feet in the first two and a half miles, but at least at this point, there was no rain. Crossing Carvers Gap, the trail passed through several open, grassy balds, the treeless meadows which are high points of this part of the trail. Usually, they afford some fine views of the surrounding area, but unfortunately, with the low clouds and, starting around 10 a.m., another round of rain and a brisk wind, viewing was somewhat limited. The trail continued through dense woods and balds. It was while crossing one of these fenced pastures to the north of Hump Mountain (elev. 5,587 ft.) that I encountered the surprise of the day. The cloud level was low and visibility was about 250 feet. As I made my way along the trail, my eye caught sight of a movement to the left, and when I turned to look, I was facing some very large, long horned cattle, sporting very wide racks of horns. They seemed unconcerned with the intrusion, and we each went our separate ways. The descent from the balds through thick woods to US 19 E. (elev. 2,880 ft.) passed along a meandering rock strewn trail that switched back and forth several times and featured a lot of what noted AT advocate Ed Garvey used to call a 3-R situation (roots, rocks and erosion), especially the roots and rocks. Though the rain had subsided by this time, the footing remained slippery and the going was slow, but by 4:15 p.m., I had reached U.S. 19 E, grateful to be there and with a hearty appetite. The DOC stimulated a love of hiking and the outdoors that has remained with me my entire life, and I count it as one of the special experiences of my time at Dartmouth. As the College continues to evolve in response to new challenges, I hope the kinds of programs that the DOC offers will continue to be available to incoming undergraduates.

Good work!

Richard Belding

Carvers Gap/Tenn.143/N.C.261 to Hughes Gap/Rt.1330 - 5.9 miles

Hiker: Judge Wilson

Please see the attached photos from my hike as a favor to my friend, Bill Gruver, Dartmouth class of 1966. I hope your centennial celebration is a successful one.

The shelter on Roan High Knob is the highest one on the A.T. It is an old fire warden's cabin that I first visited as a Boy Scout in 1972. On October 10th, it was 47F, with rain and foggy conditions. Despite the weather, I saw 28 people on my route, including one fellow who had carried 5 pounds of charcoal and steaks to a favorite lean to (Stan Murray Shelter)!

Best regards, Judge

Hughes Gap to Iron Mountain Gap/Tenn.107/N.C.226 - 8.1 miles

Hiker: Vic Hasler, scout group

Trip report

Iron Mountain Gap/Tenn.107/N.C.226 to Indian Grave Gap/Rt.395 - 10.8 miles

Hiker: Ed Callaway '90

I hiked a 10.8-mile segment from Iron Mountain Gap to Indian Grave Gap, straddling the Tennessee/North Carolina border outside Erwin, Tennessee. On the way to Erwin from Nashville on Friday afternoon and evening, I spent the drive racing thunderstorms and tornado warnings throughout the Tennessee Valley. A significant cold front was moving through, providing 1.5 days of rain centered on Saturday, October 10th. Beautiful weather early on the 9th; beautiful weather on the 11th. I was optimistic riding with my shuttle driver from Uncle Johnny’s Nolichucky Hostel (a great place for thru-hikers), as there was no rain on the way to Iron Mountain Gap. Started walking about 7:55 in cool, “drippy” weather.

“drippy” weather turned to real rain. As I gained altitude, it rained harder, until at the 5180’ summit, it was really pouring down. I hit the summit about 10:40, and realized I was halfway through my segment. I forgot my AT in a Day logo, so my DOC Centennial t-shirt substituted here. (Boy cotton gets wet fast, so it made a quick appearance!)

The AT proceeded down Unaka Mountain, then along a ridge to Beauty Spot, which is by all accounts a well-deserved name. Beauty Spot is a bald along the state line, just above 4400’. The views are supposedly fantastic in all directions, though I can’t tell you first hand! Even in the fog and drizzle, there was a certain beauty to it.

It occurred to me along this section that because of the weather, I could be the only person outside for miles around. Hiking through the ridgetop balds in the clouds, accompanied only by the splish-splosh of my boots on the trail, was a great reminder of the beauty and peace we can find outside the boundaries of our everyday lives. At least this downtown lawyer and suburban father found it very restorative. The trail continued another 2.5 miles or so along the ridge, through an area burned in the past, but rhododendron and oak trees sprouting everywhere to revegetate the area. I arrived at Indian Grave Gap about 12:45, after walking 4 hours 50 minutes. I donned my DOC Centennial shirt again for a photo, but everything (including the camera) was so wet by then that a decent photo was tough to get. This is my attempt to show the AT sign and the DOC logo in one frame:

I’ll definitely have to return to this section in the future. I had never been there before, but found the trail well constructed, well marked and well maintained. The terrain varied from open balds, to open forests of massive oaks, to Unaka Mountain’s dense dark hemlock forest, but was universally a joy to traverse. And with better weather, I think the views would be spectacular! Thanks for organizing this adventure. I was very proud to be a part of a project much bigger than I, and proud to help celebrate the DOC’s centennial. My connection with the DOC started when I visited campus as a high school senior, and stayed with Mike Derzon ’86, who explained the Woodsman’s Team to me. From freshman trips to a graduation weekend climb of Moosilauke, and a thousand trips in the White Mountains in between, climbing, hiking and skiing with the DOC provided some of my most memorable college experiences. Ed Callaway ‘90

Indian Grave Gap/Rt.395 to Nolichucky River Valley - 7 miles

Hiker: Cathy Johnson

Trip report

Nolichucky River Valley, River Rd. Erwin, TN to Spivey Gap/U.S.19W - 12.5 miles

Hiker: Chris Markworth '93

Trip report

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