My last trip to the Roan Mountain area was up to Grassy Ridge so this time it was decided to go the other way to the Roan High Knob. We started at Carver’s Gap on a cloudy Sunday morning where we parked among the many usual tourists who were all headed up towards Round and Jane Bald as we took the way less traveled through the pines in the direction of the highest point of the Roan Mountain high country. Although you can drive to the top, it is a very scenic hike instead. The road was closed most all of last year as renovations were done to the bathrooms and the road was paved. The first thing Bol’Dar and I noticed was a strange dead fly phenomena around the new bathroom and parking area. It was odd to see so many dead flies clustered together all over the place, even on the tops of the plant growth, but it was only a prelude to what we would find later that day and what we would learn from it.
I had the distinct pleasure of accompanying my friend Dave Aldridge on an awesome waterfall adventure on the last day of July 2011. He took me to a place I had been wanting to go to for some time now as he had been there a couple of times already and was more than happy to share it with me. After a mid-morning start and a large cup of cappuccino we made our way towards the town of Hot Springs, North Carolina. Taking the back way off route 70 to 107 towards Del Rio where we would get on 25/70, we arrived at the trail head after about an hour or so worth of driving. The scenery in this part of the country is spectacular and I enjoyed every mile of it. From the Forest Service gate where we parked, the road was mostly downhill gradually to the falls. Of course this is the easy and not very well known way to get to these falls.There are other ways to access them, one being from the Wolf Creek Trail-head which is located off hwy 25/70 before you get to the secret route we used. It is a much longer hike, mostly uphill going that way. The other way would require a lot of driving and much of it on high mountain gravel roads some of which are very narrow. This would be from Max Patch through Lemon Gap and then Rattlesnake Gap where you could eventually drive to within 1/4 mile of the falls. The lesser known route we took (Shutin Creek) is an easier and much shorter drive with a less than 4 mile round trip hike is by far the best way to go.
It has been a while since the renovations to the old fire tower on Pinnacle Mountain have been completed along with the new trail that was constructed coming up from Unicoi, Tennessee. I have been wanting to hike the new trail and I finally got around to it on Sunday July 17, 2011. It was a warm and very hazy day when I left the trail-head located at the Unicoi exit off I – 26 so it felt good to be in the shade of the dense woods. Knowing it was not more than a mile to the top as the power lines go and as the crow flies, but I had already been told that the trail was some 4.5 miles one way to the top ! This I could not imagine but I was about to find out ! The trail is very wide but obviously machine made and there are several places where there was a trail made and then discontinued and started again going slightly different. I learned later that the trail builders were told it had to be a certain length so they had to keep changing it until it came out long enough ?? This is in part to it being a mountain bicycle trail as well as a hiking trail. I did pass two coming down on my way up. I would be wishing I had brought mine by the time I came back !
I haven`t been back to my section of trail on the Appalachian Trail since the early Spring walk-through in March of this year and it was now time to cut the annual growth. My friend Doug Corkhill was also planning a trip to his section which joins mine so he once again graciously volunteered to pick us (my son Tyler and myself) up at Spivey Gap to ride with him to the summit of Big Bald. This allows us to walk one way from top down enabling us to have more time to work on the entire section and eliminating the super steep climb from Spivey Gap to Little Bald and then having to walk it all back ! Doug arrived at Spivey Gap around 9am and by 10 am we were on Big Bald. It took longer than usual as we were not able to access the back entrance and had to go around. It was a beautiful morning on Big Bald and the clouds were lifting as we made our way North towards Little Bald.
It has been awhile since my last report as I have been very busy with non-hiking activities lately. Because of this I am now way behind in writing my reports on all the trips I took this past summer. In order to catch up I am not going to compose as many details as I usually do for the next few blog entries but I will provide the highlights and any points of interest along with the best photographs available from each adventure until I get things back under control.
Ever since I met my waterfall loving friend Dave Aldridge (and his friend Lou) he has talked about taking us to the Douglas Falls area in the Big Ivy area of the Pisgah National Forest in North Carolina. (This is near Barnardsville) We finally made the trip on Sunday July 10, 2011 and I am very glad we did. This place is a mecca of creeks and waterfalls. So many in fact that I lost count ! Our navigator Dave made a wrong turn on to FR 63 which winds up the mountain and comes out at the Craggy Gardens picnic area off the Blue Ridge Parkway so we had to backtrack some but this was a very scenic route and had quite a few waterfalls of its own where the gravel road crosses numerous creeks so it was definitely not a waste of time.