Round Bald on the Appalachian Trail

Round Bald on the Appalachian Trail

It was cold but beautiful atop Jane Bald. Looking back toward Roan Mountain.

It was cold but beautiful atop Jane Bald. Looking back toward Roan Mountain.

It has been both a magical and surreal as well as a long and exhausting day. I spent most of the day in my rain coat but not because it was raining. Rather, the temperatures dropped so much last night that the first half of the day was spent hiking in temperatures in the low 50s. In mid-July! Needless to say, my Raynaud’s Phenomenon wasn’t happy but I ignored it because the hikes on Roan Mountain and Round and Jane balds were so awesome that I just couldn’t be troubled.

Roan Mountain as seen from Round Bald.

Roan Mountain as seen from Round Bald.

The oldest rock on the Appalachian Trail--1.1 Billion year old Gneiss with a black rock intrusion.

The oldest rock on the Appalachian Trail–1.1 Billion year old Gneiss with a black rock intrusion.

The fae Balsam Fir forest on Roan Mountain.

The fae Balsam Fir forest on Roan Mountain.

More than a mile high, clouds skittering past us, magic and perfumed Balsam Fir forests and grassy balds lined with blueberries. Wildlife from the small–chipmunks and bunnies–to the large–deer and black bear–only added to the pleasure. And, having just finished “The Shining” by Stephen King, it was fun to visit the site of the former Cloudland Hotel high atop Roan Mountain which straddled the Tennessee-North Carolina border from the late 1800s until 1914 when it was dismantled. A shorter history than King’s “The Overlook,” but I had to wonder why they closed it down.

And a side note: the mountain is showing the effects of the reduction in acid rain. The old firs may be dying but the new ones are healthier and look much more ready to take over, as do the plants on the balds. See. We can change things for the better.

From high atop the mountain, in excess of 6,000 feet, we descended to Roan Mountain State Park. There we hiked a couple of trails, including the very strenuous Raven’s Rock Overlook, which led us more than 500 feet straight up a ridge for awesome views over the valley. A trail along the Doe River was hiked before we headed on to Davy Crockett Birthplace State Historic Area and hiked through its meadows and alongside Limestone Creek. And saw the cabin Crockett was born in, of course. And then we had spent more than 10 hours working/hiking and were ready for a rest.

From the overlook at Raven's Rock. By Frank.

From the overlook at Raven’s Rock. By Frank.

Ended the day in a fairy realm of Queen Anne's Lace and lots of bunnies. By Frank.

Ended the day in a fairy realm of Queen Anne’s Lace and lots of bunnies. By Frank.

Davy's (sorry it's dark/late in the day) birthplace cabin.

Davy’s birthplace cabin.

Tomorrow some sections of the Cumberland Trail.

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