Roan Highlands

 

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4/28/2015 Roan Mountain

In the early spring I was astounded by the budding leaves and the greyness of the forest. As the trees began to blossom and small plants emerged from layers of dead leaves, the forest began to come alive. Birds began singing, many and more until they welcomed the sun each morning with a deafening chorus.

As the tiny yellowish green leaves unfurled and spread out, our views became obscured. In the beginning of trail, everywhere we look we could see distant mountains off through the forest.

Now leaves crowded our view and we were only rewarded with such sights from the tops of rocky cliffs and bald mountain tops. I told Sam that I was excited to climb Roan Mountain, and that it had been on my list for a long time. As we ascended I learned the art of snot rocketing. The forest grew thick with elevation gain. Green moss emerged from dark brown soil like little plant tentacles reaching for small patches of light on the forest floor. They seemed to gasping for sunlight in the dense darkness.

We reached the top to find that it didn’t really offer a view. Also, there was a parking lot and road on top of the mountain. I tried to take a positive view:

“ At least there are toilets.”

I ran over with my toilet paper only to find the bathrooms “locked for the season.”

Roo and Doc were lazing in the grass on top of Roan. I found Sam and Chewy snacking and considering taking their shoes off. So in agreement, we all took an enjoyable siesta in the warm sunshine.

Feeling relaxed, Sam and I moved onward. To our great surprise the Roan Highlands awaited us. Rolling balds expanded out in front of us. The trail followed the ridge for miles with views in all directions. We ran along the trail singing and skipping, sometimes walking until we reached Overmountain Shelter.

The shelter is a giant red barn. Many hikers had set up on the grass near the shelter which offered a valley mountain view, but the charm of sleeping in a barn drew us in. The Tramily enjoyed a lovely dinner on the grass. We played games and chatted by the fire until nightfall.

The privy left much to be desired and nothing to the imagination. The wooden throne had no walls and could be seen in from all directions by every hiker present.

After the sun set headlamps from the lower story of the barn lit up crevices between the floor boards, sending thousands of tiny light beams bouncing around in long sweeping waves.

4/29/2015 Roan Highlands

About ten of us set out at the same time this morning. We filled up on water at the clear spring and climbed together towards High Knob. I found Sam and Fiddle doing tree pose on a rock along with several other hikers who were enjoying a view of Overmountain Shelter framed by the mountains we had climbed the day before.

High Knob felt like another country. It seemed to extend forever into the sky and transverse rolling grasslands.  Just before Mountaineer Shelter we encountered a large waterfall. Sam and I dunked our heads in the freezing water, screaming and laughing. Feeling clean and refreshed I ran up to the base of the falls so Sam could take a picture. Sam took the photo as I slipped on the slimy rocks and hit my head. I climbed down from the falls feeling dazed and found that he had taken my picture, but I wasn’t in it.

The rest of the night I was a little quiet. Sam and I ate a two hour dinner, gazing off into the forest and chatting. There was a wild crew there that night which left rumors of a hiker that slipped and almost impaled himself on a sharp log.

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