Hoh River Trail, Olympic National Park

September—brief first visit

Last year, I posted about a four-day visit to Mount Rainier National Park. The day following that visit, I took a tour with Evergreen Escapes to Olympic National Park. I am not usually the tour type, but I made an exception because, on this occasion, my guide would be my daughter Marjorie. I even got to sit in the front of the van with her. Marjorie took us (she had six other guests) on the ferry across Puget Sound and then on the 100-mile drive to a northern corner of Olympic. We saw Lake Crescent, and hiked to both Marymere Falls and Sol Duc Falls. It was beautiful and fun, but it was clear from Marjorie’s patter that the best parts of Olympic National Park lay farther west, out of reach of a day excursion from Seattle.

Back in Connecticut, getting to those best parts of Olympic became the focus of my plans for a second trip to Washington, a trip made all the more enticing when another daughter, Caroline, moved out to Seattle in the fall. I booked flights for the second half of January, and I booked Cedar Creek Cabin, an Airbnb near the small city of Forks—well within reach of Olympic’s rain forest and beaches.

This post is about hikes in the forest, primarily on the Hoh River Trail. But, for the record, we also visited Rialto Beach (huge driftwood, thunderous surf), Cape Flattery (the most northwesterly point of the Lower 48), and Second Beach (sea stacks galore). It was all great.

I hiked the Hoh River Trail twice, once with Marjorie and once alone. There are notes and photos for those hikes below. But before them, and before either Caroline or Marjorie arrived in Forks, I warmed up with a walk on the Bogachiel River Trail. Here are a few pictures, with information in the captions.

Hoh River Trail

DATES: Friday, January 20th (with Marjorie) and Monday, January 23rd (alone).
START & FINISH: Hoh Rain Forest Visitor Center (47.860207, -123.934494).
(This is also the location of the famous Hall of Mosses nature trail, which I walked with Caroline. It was great on a Sunday in January, but I am told it can get extremely busy at more popular times of year.)
ROUTE: Hoh River Trail runs for 17½ miles, all the way to the glaciers of Mount Olympus. It wasn’t the season for that, even if we had had the time. Marjorie and I hiked out to Five Mile Island campsite; alone, I went just a little farther, to Happy Four campsite.
DISTANCE: Friday, 10-11 miles; Monday, 11-12 miles.
TIME: Friday: 5 hours (1:15pm to 6:15pm—we finished by lamplight 1¼ hours after sunset). Monday: 5½ hours (10:00am to 3:30pm)
TERRAIN: Pretty easy—mostly good trail, minimal elevation gain.
MAP: I mainly used Gaia GPS but also carried Trails Illustrated 216, Olympic National Park.
WEATHER: Looking at the weather in Forks in the run-up to the trip, I felt sure we would often be hiking in heavy rain. In fact, our rain forest outings were rainless, and the sun even peeked out once or twice. Temperatures in the 40s.
WILDLIFE: Two bald eagles over the river; Roosevelt elk; some kind of grouse; no cougar, despite the warning (see PICTURES).
UPS: On Friday, being with Marjorie for the first time in three months. On Monday, on stones beside the river at Happy Four, I experienced some moments of utter contentment, “a perfect comfort with the here and now” as I wrote on another occasion. No downs.
COMPANY: Just a very few other hikers, a definite advantage of a winter visit.

(Monday’s return leg, but good for all.)

My 2022 Seasonal Highlights

Since 2014, I have posted (usually, but not always, in a timely manner) a photo for a hiking highlight of each season of the previous year. For anyone interested in looking back, the posts are all tagged Seasonal Highlights. This post contains my selection for 2022. As always, I look back with gratitude.

WINTER‘s photo could really only be one from my first winter outings in New Hampshire’s White Mountains. Climbing to Mount Pierce on a cold but windless January day provided easy movement on deep compacted snow (burying the Whites’ infamous rocks & roots) and spectacular scenes. The view is of the Presidential Range—Jefferson (left), Eisenhower (left, nearer), Washington (center).

It didn’t feel much like SPRING for most of my late March/early April trip to the Southern Appalachians. The Great Smoky Mountains were the exception. In the photo, the greening-up of the slopes of Mount Cammerer can be seen and, coming down the mountain in the afternoon, I was able to strip down to a t-shirt. It didn’t last; a couple of days later and just a little farther north, it was back to ice and winter layers.

Very late SUMMER (September 20th), but I could not omit Mount Rainier from my highlights, seen here from the Glacier Basin Trail in the northeast of the National Park with Little Tahoma Peak to the left. Daughter Marjorie and I were lucky with the weather—four days in the Park without rain or even much in the way of clouds. The worst “weather” we experienced was wildfire smoke to the south of the Park but visible from a few places within.

FALL: A whole hiking experience I have barely posted about yet is section-hiking the Massachusetts Appalachian Trail with my friend Steve. From fall 2021 to fall 2022, we have hiked from the Housatonic River at Sheffield to almost Mount Greylock at Cheshire. In October this year, we stumbled across this view of Greylock from Warner Hill. It wasn’t even quite peak colors. We plan to hike over Greylock and up to the Vermont line in the spring.

Happy Trails in 2023 🙂

Mattabesett Trail – The End

The twisty route to Route 79

On the Sunday after Thanksgiving, I completed the Mattabesett Trail a mere 6½ years after first stepping onto it. To be fair, getting it done was never an urgent project. Back in 2016, daughter Katie and I accomplished the sections between Berlin and Guilford quite quickly as part of a longer section-hike of the New England Trail from Massachusetts to Long Island Sound. But we did not touch that part of the Mattabesett that runs southwest from the Connecticut River in Middletown to Guilford. It was that part I completed after Thanksgiving. 

An outing last year and four this year had taken me from the Connecticut River to a point on Route 79 in Durham. The day after Thanksgiving, I thought I might wrap up the project. I parked on Cream Pot Road in Durham, roughly halfway along the stretch of trail that remained to be done. I thought I’d hike back to Route 79 in the morning, return to my car for lunch (rain was forecast), then in the afternoon hike on to the Mattabesett’s junction with the Menunkatuck Trail, where my task would be completed. I did not reckon with the nature of the trail back to Route 79.     

Friday, November 25th – Route 79 and Back

Since the Mattabesett has been substantially rerouted in the area, when I set out for Route 79 about 8am my 2017 guidebook could not provide me a mileage to work with. Online, the route appeared quite meandering, and that certainly proved true at the beginning, when it twisted up, over, and down Mount Pisgah. But then the trail also took a very indirect route—a big loop—from the base of Mount Pisgah to Route 79 (see GPS track at top). By the time I reached the road, my GPS said I’d already walked 5.4 miles. (I’m learning that GPS data may sometimes be far from accurate but, in this case, it felt like 5.4 miles too.) On the trek back to my car, summiting Pisgah again, the wind picked up and rain began to fall. It was atmospheric and exhilarating. Even so, back at Cream Pot Road, I called it a day. 

Sunday, November 27th – The End

I drove back to Cream Pot Road Sunday lunchtime. The forecast was for heavy rain but mild temperatures. I was looking forward to more “atmospheric and exhilarating”. I followed the Mattabesett south, past Pyramid Rock and over Mica Ledges. After two hours, I arrived at the junction of the Mattabesett and Menunkatuck trails, where Katie and I had passed 6½ years ago. I ate a sandwich and drank some coffee and turned around. On the return leg, the rain came down hard and the woods dimmed early. There was no-one else about all afternoon. It’s funny what makes you happy.

NH Whites – Mounts Carrigain, Tom, and Field

Crawford Brook, near the end of Sunday’s hike

It had been an emotional week, holding the wedding of my eldest daughter, followed by the departure of my middle daughter to live in Seattle (where, incidentally, she joins my youngest daughter). Even before these events kicked off, I had thought that a weekend in the Whites once they were finished might provide room for reflection and reorientation.

Given the time of year, I did not think it would be a camping trip. But then I checked the weather forecast, which sent me looking for camping options, discovering that familiar Dry River Campground would be open for one last weekend. When the time came, Friday night in particular was cold, down to the mid 20s. But I had warm clothing and multiple sleeping bags, and gazing up at the dark, starry heavens before turning in was pure reward.    

Below are notes, pictures, and links to tracks for my two hikes, taken on days that grew mild. In my pursuit of the New Hampshire 4,000 Footers, these were summits 27, 28, and 29. You cannot be out in the Whites now without noticing how popular pursuing the list has become, maybe a little too popular if, as I do, you like a lot of peace and quiet and a degree of solitude. I will keep up the quest but not in the hope of isolation.

Mount Carrigain, Saturday October 29th

START & FINISH: Signal Ridge Trailhead (44.070001, -71.383669), Sawyer River Road, west of Bartlett.
ROUTE: Signal Ridge Trail to Mount Carrigain (4,700 feet) and back.
DISTANCE: 10 miles.
TIME: 7½ hours (7:40am to 3:10pm)
TERRAIN: An easy start for a few miles, then a steady slog to the summit, interrupted only by a short level and grand views at around 4,400 feet.

Gaia GPS track

Mounts Tom and Field, Sunday October 30th

START & FINISH: Avalon Trailhead across the tracks from Crawford Notch Depot (44.217625, -71.410931), Route 302 south of Bretton Woods.
ROUTE: Avalon Trail to A-Z Trail then Mount Tom spur. Up and down the spur, then Willey Ridge Trail to Mount Field. Return by Avalon Trail (and Mount Avalon spur for the view 😊)
DISTANCE: 7 miles.
TIME: 5¾ hours (7:30am to 1:15pm)
TERRAIN: Plenty of rough and often steep trail. The section immediately after Mount Avalon (750 feet of descent in 0.5 miles) was notable in this regard, testing both concentration and knees. 

Gaia GPS track

Mount Rainier National Park, September

SUNDAY 5:19 PM: Rainier from a Sunrise area trail

(I am a little late. This post covers hikes taken September 18th-21st.)

Mount Rainier National Park is all about, well, Mount Rainier. That may sound kind of obvious, but it makes the park different from many others. Yellowstone, Glacier, and Big Bend, for example, are not dominated by one overwhelming feature. They have a bit of this and a bit of that. Perhaps, in this, Rainier is more like Grand Canyon.

This is not to say that Mount Rainier National Park has only the mountain. It has a lot of forest too, and lakes, rivers, waterfalls. Sometimes, even when it is sunny, you cannot see Mount Rainier. But then you round a bend or reach a ridge, or just move your gaze, and there it is again—the huge volcano, even more massive than last time it seems.

I first saw Mount Rainer from Seattle airport soon after landing, and there the cause of its dominance was obvious—it stands all alone, with no other summit in its neighborhood anywhere near its 14,410 feet (the nearest competitor, Mount Adams, is 45 miles south, and out of sight). And Rainier is no slender beauty. It has bulk. The glaciated parts of the summit alone measure up to 10 miles across.

I had not come to the Pacific Northwest to see Mount Rainier, at least not primarily. My youngest, Marjorie, moved to Seattle in June. But it is my good fortune that she likes the outdoors and, since she has been working as a tour guide, has learnt a thing or two about the National Park. So, when I set off for Mount Rainier the day after landing (alone, she was tour-guiding), I drove to White River Campground, a quiet corner of the quieter NE of the park. Marjorie was to join me on Monday morning.

Emmons Moraine and Glacier Basin

The trails to Emmons Moraine and Glacier Basin depart conveniently from White River Campground and it just so happens that they turned out to be my favorites among the Rainier trails I got to try. Early Monday morning, before Marjorie was due to arrive, I hiked out to Emmons Moraine, about a 4-mile roundtrip. The trail (Glacier Basin Trail to begin with) climbed gradually beside and above a fork of the White River and it wasn’t long before fine views of Mount Rainier began (see captioned photographs below). The views became even finer after I turned onto the Emmons Moraine Trail. I decided I had to come back here with Marjorie.

Marjorie arrived at 10 AM and we took a couple of hikes together that day (see further below—Fremont and Naches). But it was Tuesday morning, another sunny one, when we set off together up the Glacier Basin Trail. We hiked to Glacier Basin, then back to the Emmons Moraine side-trail, then home; about 9 miles with a net (but gradual) ascent/descent of 1,800 feet. There were great views of Rainier from the Glacier Basin Trail but I have not posted any below because they add little to those posted above. The Glacier Basin Trail is beautiful though; for Rainier, the basin, for trees, waterfalls, and the trail’s often perfect surface and grade. We saw a marmot too—and precious few humans.

Mount Fremont Lookout

Back to Monday and my second hike, Marjorie’s first.

After Marjorie had settled into White River Campground, we drove up the winding road to Sunrise Point and on to Sunrise Lodge. I had made the same drive alone on Sunday afternoon for a head-clearing hike after my journey (and took the picture at the top of this post). Even though the lodge was closed, there were—Sunday and Monday—lots of people, including hikers, in this part of the park, and I am told it can get very busy indeed on summer weekends. The hike to Mount Fremont is 5.6 miles roundtrip, climbing around 900 feet. Take sunscreen on a sunny day, there is little shade. On the summit (7,181’), be prepared for aggressively panhandling chipmunks.

Naches Peak Loop

After our Mount Fremont hike, Marjorie and I drove 22 winding miles to Tipsoo Lake, hoping for sunset views of Rainier from the loop around Naches Peak. The first half of the loop is mostly on the Pacific Crest Trail, but it is the second half that has the views:


Early Wednesday morning, Marjorie and I struck camp at White River and set out by cars for the Paradise area of the Park. This should have been a straightforward drive within the Park, but thanks to a closure of Stevens Canyon Road, ended up as a long drive outside (south of) it and reentry at its southwest (Nisqually) entrance. We arrived at the Paradise Inn parking lot much later than planned and were lucky to find spaces. Paradise is Mount Rainier’s most visited area. We didn’t have a lot of time, but enough to meander up to Panorama Point and back (4 miles, 3 hours with plenty of lingering time). Panorama Point is at 6,900 feet and only a few trail miles from Camp Muir (10,188’ and as high as you can go on the mountain without a climbing permit). One of these days.


Glacier Basin and Emmons Moraine (Tuesday): https://www.gaiagps.com/datasummary/track/94bd79acabfdb6b09a585ad9c56f9559/

Mount Fremont: https://www.gaiagps.com/datasummary/track/c9af73865b2667b428390f71e253f254/

Paradise: https://www.gaiagps.com/datasummary/track/4579a9fdb29c2486250dcc22044a4a34/

More Mattabesett Trail

Since posting Day Hike Notes – Mattabesett Trail Again, Again in March, I have taken more bites at the Mattabesett’s southeastern portion—or, more exactly, two nibbles and one bite. On July 2nd, I picked up the Trail at Aircraft Road, Middletown, and hiked the 1.5 miles to Route 154. I returned to Aircraft Road mostly on the Seven Falls Loop. This was an outing of pleasant woods and impressive boulders. I hope the photo below left gives a flavor. The route also passes Seven Falls. I cannot vouch for the number of cascades or suggest that they are in any way spectacular. But I can provide a picture (below right). Water was low.


The next day, July 3rd, skipping the road section of the Mattabesett that begins at Route 154, I hiked the Trail through a fragment of Cockaponset State Forest in Haddam—Foot Hills Road to Brainard Hill Road and back, 2.5 miles each way. Again, the highlights were woods and rocks, notably the impressive outcrop called Eagle’s Beak. I saw a black bear too, crossing Brainard Hill Road, but quite some distance from me.


On August 27th, again skipping a road section (this time 0.7 miles of Foot Hills Road), I set off on the Mattabesett toward Millers Pond. Back on July 3rd, I had considered continuing on to this section in the afternoon, but the Millers Pond parking lot was crammed and I went elsewhere for a second hike. This time, I made sure to arrive at the lot bright and early, before the picnickers and paddlers. My route took me from Wiese Albert Road (in Haddam) to the Pond (in Durham), then on to Route 79 via Bear Rock—six miles one way, 12 for me.

The early-morning pond was a highlight, and so too was Bear Rock (see photos below for the views). Beyond Bear Rock, there was a surprise. The Mattabesett had been rerouted since my guide was published and, instead of taking me to Coginchaug Cave and Old Blue Hills Road, it led me directly to Route 79. I have no idea if missing the cave was a big loss.


Day Hike Notes – Mount Jefferson via Caps Ridge Trail

Caps and Jefferson seen on my descent

DATE: Tuesday, June 7th, the final day of a four-day trip to the White Mountains. Sunday’s and Monday’s hikes are covered in the preceding posts. Saturday’s was a warm-up on Mount Tecumseh.
START & FINISH: Caps Ridge Trailhead (44.296734, -71.353611), Jefferson Notch Road (gravel), 7 miles NE of Bretton Woods, NH.
ROUTE: Out and back on the Caps Ridge Trail, simple as that.
DISTANCE: 5 miles according to the signage (my GPA said less).
TIME: 5¼ hours (8:00am to 1:15pm).
TERRAIN: The summit of Mount Jefferson is at 5,716 feet and the trailhead, at the height of land in Jefferson Notch, is at 3,000’. So, 2,700’ climbed in the course of 2.5 miles. Pretty easy, right? Not really. The trail involves a fair amount of scrambling and is also exposed. I would not try it when the rocks are likely to be wet or the wind fierce.
MAP: Just my Gaia GPS.

WEATHER: Sunny, breezy in places, becoming warm by my descent.
WILDLIFE: Nothing of note on the hike but, around sunset that day, a bear hurried across a forest road in front of my car.

BREAKFAST & LUNCH: I made coffee and ate some kind of breakfast (I don’t remember what) at the trailhead. Lunch happened after the hike.
UPS: Well, the summit of course (my highest yet in the Whites), but really the whole outing was a high.
DOWNS: At breakfast before setting out, the mosquitos were plentiful.
KIT: Most of this hike is out of the trees but I forgot the sunscreen! (I used a shirt as a scarf to protect the back of my neck.)
COMPANY: As I was leaving the summit, I crossed paths with a hiker on the final steps of his way up. He must have been moving fast because he caught up with me soon after, not far into the descent. We exchanged some words, then some more, and ended up descending together for a fair part of the route. Stuart was good company and his hailing originally from Great Britain gave us some additional talking points. He had moved to New Hampshire quite recently after a long sojourn in California. He is also a blogger—Trailspotting (“NH Hikes, NH Railtrails, CA Hikes, More”).


Link to Gaia GPS page: https://www.gaiagps.com/public/Zod7ZyWSUhD0OpegJfaDKIyR

Day Hike Notes – North Twin Mountain

Beside the Little River

DATE: Monday, June 6th, the third day of a four-day trip to the White Mountains. On the Saturday, I warmed up on Mount Tecumseh. On the Sunday, I hiked Mount Hale and Zealand Mountain.
START & FINISH: North Twin Trailhead (44.237958, -71.547375), Haystack Road (dirt), 4 miles south of the community of Twin Mountain, NH.
ROUTE: An out-and-back on the North Twin Trail. (Little River Crossings: Nearly half this hike follows the Little River. My AMC White Mountain Guide (2007 edition) says “The three crossings of the Little River on this trail are very difficult or impassable at high water; the third is the least difficult, and the first two can be avoided by staying on the east bank and bushwhacking along the river”. I discovered that (a) the crossing to the west bank is easily missed, (b) the east bank “bushwhack” is in fact a trail, albeit occasionally overgrown and faint, and (c) even without high water the third river crossing will be challenging for some if you are not equipped to paddle/wade. The stones are not conveniently placed or shaped for stepping. I used the east bank route out and back.)
DISTANCE: 8.6 miles.
TIME: 7 hours (8:15am to 3:15pm).
TERRAIN: I remember feeling, and having other hikers confirm, that the North Twin Trail is a workout. Except at the very beginning/end, and on the short summit section, the trail is rough underfoot. It climbs 3,000 feet to the 4,761-foot summit.
MAP: AMC White Mountains Trail Map #2 plus Gaia GPS.

WEATHER: Sunny, mild, calm.
WILDLIFE: Do gnat clouds on the summit trail count?

BREAKFAST & LUNCH: Breakfast was coffee and oatmeal at my campsite at Sugarloaf I (Forest Service). Lunch on North Twin was the same old same old but the accompanying view was superb.
UPS: Breaking out to the summit views after the long, treed-in slog to get there.
DOWNS: Somewhere on the return leg, I entered the state of “let’s just get this done”.
KIT: If I had brought stream-crossing footwear, I might have used it  (see ROUTE).
COMPANY: As I was enjoying alone my last view before descending, a party of four women from Massachusetts (aged 30-something to maybe late 60s) came up the trail. They had a good banter going and I was quickly and willingly sucked in, my accent proving popular.


Link to Gaia GPS page: https://www.gaiagps.com/public/czQ04PB4sJ1R2j7mMayHW7rf
(The straight-line section of the GPS track beside the river on my out leg is an error caused by my closing the app for a while by mistake.)

Day Hike Notes – Mount Hale, Zealand Mountain, And More


DATE: Sunday, June 5th, the second day of a four-day trip to the White Mountains. On Saturday, I warmed up on Mount Tecumseh.
START & FINISH: Hale Brook Trailhead (44.236529, -71.486954), Zealand Road (dirt), 5-6 miles SE of the community of Twin Mountain, NH.
ROUTE: A lollipop loop with the (twisty) stick halfway through—Hale Brook Trail to Mount Hale; Lend-a-Hand Trail to the Appalachian Trail (AT) at Zealand Falls, then AT “south” to the 0.1-mile Zealand Mountain side-trail; return by AT “north” to Zealand Falls (taking in a side-trip to Zeacliff Pond), then Zealand Trail/Road back to Start.
DISTANCE: 14.5 miles.
TIME: 9¾ hours (7:30am to 5:15pm).
TERRAIN: Up, down, up, down. The first up was to Mount Hale, a climb of about 2,250’ to the 4,054-foot summit. I remember it as being steady, not overly strenuous. I recall the first down (the Lend-a-Hand Trail) as very pleasant, with good trail underfoot. The 1,000-foot climb to Zeacliff was pure Whites, steep and rough, the remaining 500 feet of ascent to Zealand Mountain, much easier. The final down was Zealand Mountain to Finish—gradual, then tough, and finally easy after Zealand Falls.
MAP: AMC White Mountains Trail Map #2 plus Gaia GPS.

WEATHER: Mostly sunny and mostly t-shirt temperatures. It was probably only in the high 50s even later in the day, but with little wind and lots of exercise an extra layer was needed only occasionally.
WILDLIFE: A fellow hiker said I might see a moose at Zeacliff Pond. It looked a likely spot but nothing showed.

BREAKFAST & LUNCH: Breakfast was coffee, oatmeal, and a little peanut butter at my campsite at Sugarloaf I (Forest Service campground). I suppose I lunched on Zealand Mountain, but it was really just the most substantial of many snacks (whole wheat tortillas smeared in peanut butter).
UPS: So many, but the views from Zeacliff were simply spectacular.
DOWNS: The bugs were a nuisance here and there, notably around Zealand Falls.
KIT: My PeakFinder app proved popular on Zeacliff outlook.
COMPANY: The AT was popular but not overcrowded, the other sections more solitary.


Link to Gaia GPS page: https://www.gaiagps.com/public/yxlfUedioc5Kleskr3FMZFlm
Start is at the top of the map/track.

Day Hike Notes – Appalachian Trail in North Carolina and Tennessee: Carvers Gap to Route 19E  

Frosty branches on Little Hump Mountain

After three moderately strenuous hikes on successive days, ending with Mount Cammerer, on the Wednesday I took a rest day and spent it very contentedly putzing around (reading, eating, dozing) at Elkmont Campground in the Smokies. As I was so engaged, park rangers kept me updated on a developing weather situation. It was a sunny, breezy day, but the wind was forecast to become fierce overnight. I resolved to make a bed in my car in case of falling timber. It was not to be. Early evening, the rangers announced a voluntary evacuation of the campground (the National Park was already closed to new arrivals) not for fear of high winds alone, but because of wildfires in the area that they were fanning. I packed up and drove to a motel across the mountains in Asheville.

On Thursday morning, I drove to Mount Mitchell and motored to its summit in rain and fog. There is nothing much special about Mitchell except that, at 6,684 feet, it is the highest point east of the Mississippi River. It was quite atmospheric though, on a murky morning with no other visitors, and I lingered long enough to hike along a ridge to a summit called Big Tom. Then, back in my car, I headed for the North Carolina-Tennessee line just west of the NC town of Elk Park.

The hike I hoped to take the next day would, as a point-to-pointer, require being shuttled to or from a trailhead, and I’d read that there were services in the area that do this. Then, soon after crossing into Tennessee, I saw Mountain Harbour Bed & Breakfast beside the road and thought it might fit the bill. It did, more than. Within a few minutes of presenting myself at their store/office I had not only booked a shuttle to Carvers Gap, but also found a place to camp, for supper and breakfast in the morning, and a spot to leave my car while I hiked.

So here we go finally, a magnificent stretch of the Appalachian Trail in North Carolina and Tennessee and the last of the four hikes I took in the Southern Appalachians between March 27 and April 1.

DATE: Friday, April 1st.
START: Carvers Gap (GPS 36.106480, -82.110325) on the NC/TN line 12 road-miles south of the town of Roan Mountain, TN.
FINISH: Route 19E at Mountain Harbour B&B (GPS 36.179422, -82.016569) 3.5 miles east of Roan Mountain.
ROUTE: Appalachian Trail (AT) north plus a very short road-walk at the end to reach my car parked at the B&B.
DISTANCE: 15 miles.
TIME: 7¼ hours (9:30am to 4:45pm).
TERRAIN: Carvers Gap is at 5,512 feet and the finish at about 2,900 so overall this is a downhill hike. However, it is up and down, going over a number of summits, and only the final five miles are steady descent (from Hump Mountain—5,538’). The AT was everywhere good underfoot.
MAP: Just my Gaia GPS.

WEATHER: An overcast, or rather, in-the-clouds start, but becoming sunny. Breezy and icy near Carvers Gap too. Temperatures rising with time and descent, but only into the 40s.
WILDLIFE: Nothing charismatic. (I should be more attuned to the littler, less flashy creatures.)

BREAKFAST & LUNCH: An abundant, varied, and beautifully presented breakfast buffet at Mountain Harbor. Lunch on a boulder near Little Hump Mountain was, from a culinary perspective, a real comedown.
UPS: I remember feeling very lucky to be setting off in solitude from Carvers Gap toward icy balds. That high stayed pretty much intact all day.
DOWNS: Before the hike, I worried that 15 miles might set my knee aching again or worse. It did not, so I guess this is really another up!
KIT: I must have worn, or carried, the right clothing as I do not remember being either too cold or too warm at any point, despite the changing weather and elevations.
COMPANY: Just a handful of AT thru-hikers.


GPS TRACK (Click to view on Gaia)