October 15th, 2017
I awoke on this second day of my hike in the Roan Highlands at about 7 am. I had hoped to get a good nights sleep, but instead, I ended up doing a lot of tossing and turning. It’s the same whenever I go backpacking. I’m a side sleeper and my sleep is typically disturbed by painful pressure points at my shoulders, hips, and knees. I just haven’t been able to figure out what I need to do to sleep comfortably. In this case, I had intentionally underinflated my pad, hoping that it would contour to my body and provide even support. Obviously, it didn’t work very well. Maybe next time I should try a slightly fuller and firmer pad.
At least there was a pretty sunrise. The color of the sky was a combination of orange that blended into pink, then into violet. As the sun rose higher, I could see that the distant valley was shrouded in thick fog. From my vantage point, the fog kind of resembled a large mountain lake.
The air was cool, so I was thankful that one of the other men at the shelter had taken some embers that had remained from the night before and had rekindled the fire. It felt good to be able to stand there for a few minutes and to warm up.
On most day hikes and on short backpacking trips, I tend to loose my appetite. This trip was no exception. During day one, I hadn’t felt much like eating, so I hadn’t either snacked along the trail or stopped for a lunch break. That evening at the shelter, instead of cooking the Ramen Noodles that I had brought for dinner, I ate the chicken salad sandwich that should have been my lunch. I guess that’s just as well because it saved me 16 ounces of water. That water, as it turned out, would be sorely needed later on. As for this morning, I eventually forced myself to eat three small chocolate wafers.
At about 8:15, I said goodbye to the others, then prepared to head back up the blue blazed spur towards Yellow Gap and the junction for the Appalachian Trail. First though, I stopped to take a few more pictures of the tent area. Many of the people were still inside their tents, but others were out, taking them down and packing up their gear.
At the junction, I turned right to follow the A.T. north towards Little Hump Mountain. If I had gone left, the trail would have eventually led me back to my vehicle at Carver’s Gap, 5.6 miles away.
From Yellow Gap, the trail wasted no time and immediately began to climb steeply. In the image above, if you look closely at the right side (near the shadow line) you can just barely see the red barn that is the Overmountain Shelter.
As the trail climbed higher, I was able to get a better view of the shelter and of the adjacent camping area.
After having hiked about a mile-and-a-half, I approached the summit of Little Hump Mountain (first image above), at an elevation of 5,440 feet. The second image is of one of the few trees that can be found on the grassy bald.
A short distance later, I came upon this small rock outcropping. I decided to take a brief pack-off break here to catch my breath, enjoy the scenery, and to spend a couple of minutes looking back on the ground that I had just covered.
The weather forecast had called for rain later in the day. While the sky had mostly been clear up till now, by early afternoon, clouds began to gather.
There were dozens of these red and black caterpillars along the trail. If I’m not mistaken, it’s a Woollybear caterpillar and is not venomous. If it survives to adulthood (I saw a few that had been stepped on), it will transform into an Isabella Tiger Moth.
After leaving Little Hump Mountain, the trail descends and enters a small wooded area. While in the woods, the trail passes some campsites and a spur that leads to a water source. Once the trail exits the woods again, it begins a steep climb towards the summit of Hump Mountain. From your viewpoint as you’re hiking, you may think that you can see the top of the climb. In reality, it’s a bit of a false summit. From there, you have to cross a fence and continue to climb another tenth of a mile or so.
These two pictures were taken from atop of Hump Mountain. This had been my destination for today. I had hiked 4.3 miles from the shelter to get here. Now I needed to turn around and hike close to ten miles in the opposite direction in order to get all the way back to my car at Carver’s Gap.
I had started my day with slightly less than 1 liter of water. Now, as I turned around to head back, I was down to about half that. I had planned to stop to filter water at one of several sources along the way. After having hiked a mile or so, I came upon a small spring that was flowing out of the hillside and streaming across the trail. The water was ice cold as I collected it. Since I was feeling pretty thirsty, I was really looking forward to drinking some. When I tried to filter it with my Sawyer water filter though, NOTHING! My filter was clogged. I attempted to unclog it by backflushing it with some of my remaining fresh water, but no matter how hard I squeezed, not more than a few drops would pass through.
I had intended to test my filter before leaving home, but I had gotten busy and forgot to do it. Now, I was going to suffer the consequences. Though I only had a few sips of water remaining, I still had eight or nine miles to hike and a ton of climbing to do before I would arrive back at my car. By the time that I finally made it to Carver’s Gap, I was completely depleted. From there, I had to drive about six miles before I came across a little general store that was still opened. I went inside and bought a liter bottle of punch, which I gulped down right away.
The next day after getting home, I connected my filter to the tap and thoroughly backflushed it. Even though it’s flowing pretty good now, I’m a little concerned about the durability of my Sawyer filter and may consider replacing it with something else, possibly the Katadyn Befree. I think that I’ll also begin to carry Aquamira tablets or something like that as a backup.
As for the stats for this second and final day of my backpack, I had hiked 14.1 miles. The total vertical gain/loss was over 6,800 feet, including more than 3,900 feet of climbing.