Hot Springs to Roan Highlands

At last, a month into our hike and finally we’re having a full day off! Not entirely by choice though …

Snow had been in the weather forecast for a week, but we hadn’t made any firm plans for what we were going to do when it arrived. We rather hoped there would be enough for some nice photos, but not enough to make hiking hard. Then yesterday we checked the forecast again. Today we were due to hike over Roan High Knob, location of the highest shelter on the AT at 6270 feet, and the forecast for the shelter said 3 to 7 inches of snow and wind gusts up to 45mph! The thought of doing our usual 18ish miles and 3000 feet plus of ascent in those conditions was very unappealing. Although we have good warm clothing, we are wearing trail shoes, not boots, and the idea of trudging slowly uphill with cold wet feet seemed like a bad one. I messaged another thru hiker who we thought was in front to see what he and his group were planning to do, and found that they were all already off trail waiting for the worst of the weather to pass.

So we called a shuttle driver from a nearby town and arranged to meet at Hughes Gap, where the trail crosses a road. From there he took us to the Refuge Hostel at Roan Mountain, a small hostel miles from anywhere. But it’s warm and comfortable, the coffee’s good, our laundry is in the dryer, and we have WiFi and a huge selection of DVDs from the 1990s. And we can look out at the snow slowly drifting down onto the porch and trees, and feel very glad to not be hiking today!

Anyway, here is a selection of photos from the last few days. As you can see we’ve experienced every type of weather, from pouring sweat in hot sunshine, to fog and rain, and now snow.

Our room at Elmer’s Sunnybank Inn in Hot Springs – a lovely Victorian house stuffed full of antique furniture and books. AT hikers have been welcomed here for over 40 years
Rich Mountain fire tower, near Hot Springs
View from Rich Mountain fire tower
Camping near Spring Mountain shelter, with Tadpole and Pixie’s tents in the background
Morning light near Spring Mountain shelter
Scrambly hiking near Howard’s Rocks, good fun but slow going
Howard’s Rocks
Near Jerry’s Cabin shelter – thousands of small white flowers covering the ground. Warm sunshine and more and more spring flowers – anyone would think winter was over!
Coming down off Big Bald in the fog. A very long climb up with no views at the top! This was early on our longest day yet, 23 miles into Erwin
Uncle Johnny’s hostel at Erwin – an opportunity to carry out some repairs after a spiky twig punctured our groundsheet and Neil’s sleeping mat
Beauty Spot – yes that is its proper name! Great views, but we didn’t hang around as it was a bit exposed and thunderstorms were on their way
View from Little Rock Knob, shortly before getting off trail – beautiful weather but temperatures definitely dropping!

  1. Mark Scott
    | Reply

    Looks like a great hike and I’m glad to hear you are out of the weather that’s bearing down on the East Coast!

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