10-19-09 day 139
start: Overmountain Shelter, TN/NC
end: Greasy Creek Freindly, TN/NC
daily mileage: 14.8
total mileage: 1814.1
It was so cold last night even enclosed in the loft. We bundled up in all our clothes and pulled the tarp over our sleeping bags so we managed to stay reasonably comfortable. As I came out of the barn Icarus had already started a fire and you could see the sun just starting to peak out over the hills. Within a few minutes the sun was up and I'm not exaggerating when I say it was nothing short of glorious. It gave the whole valley a glow and warmth that made you want to strech and worship it. Shortly after the sun was up the snow and ice on the roof started to melt and the water started running down, as if to say, "It's alright, the earth hasn't frozen over, there is still life here". We set off on this amazing morning with the intention of doing 22 miles.
Just to clarify for our readers the next 150 miles or so of the AT run along the TN-NC border. The trail dips in and out so much, and indeed, follows exactly, it is impossible to tell what state we are in at any given moment.
The rest of the morning was spent up on Grassy Ridge. I thought this morning was good down in the valley, but that was nothing compared to what we got up on the ridge. The series of balds were frosted with snow and offered 360 degree veiws all the way along. Looking out you could see winter in the snowy peaks but the colorful leaves of autumn still held in the valleys. The sun was bright and clear and there was not a cloud in the sky. Absolutley incredible and easily one of our best veiws on the trail. While it was still cold out, the sun was efficiently melting the snow from the trees and grass. You could hear it constantly slumping off along the trail and somtimes straight onto your head. A neat effect but it made for a muddy trail...After the ridge we climbed down into Carvers Gap where there is a parking lot and stuff for the day hikers on the ridge. The climb out of the gap varied between slick mud and even slicker sheets of ice, it was slow going up the mountain. Once at the top we ate lunch at Roan Mountain Shelter, the highest shelter on the AT. The elevation here is nealry as high as that of Mnt. Washington back on NH. If you will remember back to that post, since Mt. Washington was a tourist nightmare and there was as line for the summit we didn't actually go to the peak. What that means is, that standing here on Roan Mountian is our highest point so far on the AT, by 3 feet.
Looking at the muddy sloppy terrain, and the time after lunch, our original 22 mile plan seemed a bit ambitious. We cut the day short and instead set our sights on the Greast Creek Hostel. Coming into Greasy Creek Gap there is a sign posted on a tree and a hand drawn map in a Zip-Lock bag tack to a tree. After scrutinizing the map for a good ten minutes we set of in the direction we hoped would lead us to a bed. We followed a winding unmarked forest road about a half mile and were relieved to find we had gone the right way. Our enterance was greeted by the crazy neighbor, Bill, blasting music from outdoor speakers. We met Buffalo there, ate dinner, and watched Sky Captian the World of Tomorrow. I have the tarp set up in the bunkhouse around the my bunk to keep in some extra heat. Its gonna be another cold one tonight.