May 28, 2017

Backpacking - Appalachian Trail from HWY 19E to Carver's Gap

Overview

So a buddy and I (shoutout to Mike!) went for a two day backpacking trip on the Appalachian Trail. Since my buddy was coming from Charlotte, we’d have two cars, so we could leave one at the end point and start somewhere else. We started where the Appalachian Trail intersects NC HWY 19E and ended at Carver’s Gap. Most people do this section in the other direction. Total distance was approximately fifteen miles, with over three thousand feet of elevation change.

Our plan was to hike to a well-known shelter (Overmountain Shelter) on day 1. Overmountain Shelter was about nine miles from 19E. This was a terrible plan. The first four miles of the trail are all uphill. It was tiring at first, then it got brutal. There was over 2500 feet of elevation gain in this section. We started hiking around 13:00 and at 19:00, we had just reached the top of Big Hump Mountain, just four miles in. Exhausted, and taking in the incredible views on the mountain, we decided to camp there. This also proved to be a terrible plan. That night it STORMED. Bad. I was scared. There was incredible amounts of wind, rain, and lightning. Quite fortunately, the tent held and we stayed dry. No sunrise in the morning because of clouds but still gorgeous views.

It was supposed to rain on both days, and except for the STORM, it did not rain at all. It was actually a mix of overcast and being sunny. On day two, we hiked down from Big Hump Mountain into Bradley Gap. From there up to Little Hump Mountain and then down to Yellow Mountain Gap. This is where Overmountain Shelter is located. (The shelter is actually half mile off the AT down a steep trail) Four more miles from Overmountain is Carver’s Gap. As we neared Carver’s Gap, a large amount of fog blew in. And I’m talking about can’t see ten feet in front of you. It’s amazing how quickly clouds and fog can blow in and out.

Overall, the trip was incredible! As always, it’s a learning experience. I needed to be in better shape. You probably shouldn’t camp on the actual top of a mountain in case of weather. Take elevation better into account when planning. Despite those things, it was really exciting and enjoyable to be out there.

This is 360 degree view of our campsite on the top of Big Hump Mountain. Note the constant wind.

This is a deer that we ran into literally 30 feet away from the campsite. It didn’t even run away when it saw us.

This is another 360 degree view on(/near) Little Hump Mountain.