Wonderful Earth Day news for lovers of the Roan Mountain area. Billionaire Tim Sweeney, CEO of Epic Games, has made a donation of 7,500 acres of land to add to all the other wonderful land making up that land mass.
Check out the story on WLOS-TV.
Pretty much all of our campers visited Roan Mountain at some point or other...either on a backpacking trip or as a day trip by van. It is a magical mountain. Check out these photos and captions found on the "Only in Your State" online newsletter:
Click to check it out.
So TrailRidge folks, after traveling with my MindStretch Travel Adventures groups for years...we finally took the guys on a trip into the old TMC neck of the woods. We hiked up to Round Bald and a little beyond from Carvers Gap. It was 59 degrees when we arrived there this past Wednesday. And when we were done...guess where we had lunch with those famous milkshakes? You guessed it - Bob's Dairyland. Nothing has changed except the "outhouse" at Carver's Gap is slightly fancier than before.
We did meet a couple of Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy caretakers and they had some news about the old TMC property. I will wait until I visit the old TrailRidge before posting any info. That's not happening for several weeks.
Sit down when you have a few minutes and watch this video shared with me today by former TMC staffer, Ben Parker.
It's about "our" Roan Mountain and how a chunk of it got its protection from mining back in the early 1970s, about a decade before TrailRidge opened. This is a story I've never heard.
It's told by Jay Leutze who just happened to be a high school classmate of Ben.
Click the link below to view the video.
Finally after many years, I decided it was time for a trip to Roan Mountain. And of course, I went via Hughes Gap Road in Buladean so I could at least drive past the old TrailRidge property. We sold the property 22 years ago (can you believe that?). I did not feel like driving into the property so just glanced at it as we slowly drove by. I couldn't see much, but it looked like the property could use some tender loving care.
The purpose for my visit was to hike up on Roan so I did get to do that with a good friend of mine. We stopped at Hughes Gap just because it was there. And then we headed on up the road to Carver's Gap at Roan.
Even in the clouds, it was beautiful...and COLD. At around 12:30 it was 30 degrees on top of Roan. And this was on October 25. We decided to hike up the road to Roan High Knob instead of on the balds. It was just too cold and windy in that direction. The road is closed this time of year so walking is the only way to get to the top and we had the place to ourselves. It brought back a flood of memories. Check out a few photos from the trip.
Check out this little video of photos taken on a Roan Mountain hike by photographer David Dutton.
Many campers and counselors will remember this AT route exactly.
This trail dog "Dee," photographed by David Dutton, was captured hiking on the Appalachian Trail between Carver's Gap and Hump Mountain. That trail sure brings back memories.
I picked up a copy of the latest Blue Ridge Outdoors magazine and enjoyed reading Jennifer Pharr Davis's article entitled "Gimme Shelter." A sidebar to her article was a listing of Ten Unforgettable Shelters and one of those ten was the one at Roan High Knob.
It states, "It is Christmas year-round on top of Roan Mountain. The sweet smell of balsam and fir trees that crown this mountain fill the air with a pleasant holiday scent. Located at 6, 285 feet above sea level, this is the highest shelter on the entire Appalachian Trail. The ecosystem and climate at this shelter is rare in the southern Appalachian Mountains and will remind southbound thru-hikers of the peaks in New Hampshire and Maine."
Ah for those camp memories. TrailRidge hikers who hiked the AT from Carver's Gap back to TrailRidge would have passed this shelter and the one at Little Rock Knob before descending the very rough trail down to camp. And as you remember...uphill or downhill...none of it was easy!
Former TrailRidger Davies Hood of the Birmingham area posted this photo of a seasonal brew from Highland Brewing Company on the TrailRidge Facebook page. It reminded him of all of his backpacking trips up over Roan Mountain. I'm not sure whether it was the name Little Hump that reminded him of camp or seasonal spring ale. I'm hoping the former.
How many of you remember some of those hikes from Carver's Gap down to 19-E on the Appalachian Trail? Highland Brewing Company wasn't around then but I'm sure you remember the stop at Bob's Dairyland on the way back to camp. Bob's, by the way, is still in business the last time I drove by.
Just some random thoughts about how TrailRidge came to be and about life at the camp in those first 15 or so years in Buladean.