Powder River’s Appalachian Trail Journey from Georgia to Maine 2008

The Overmountain Boys

Day 40
Location: Apple House Shelter, TN
Miles hiked today: 14.3
Miles from Springer: 385
Miles from Katahdin: 1789
Elevation: 3,000′

First and foremost, Happy Mother’s Day Mom! I tried calling, I swear. They don’t make too many AT&T towers down here!

In 1780, the “Overmountain Militia” composed of men from North Carolina, Virginia and what is now Tennessee crossed Yellow Mountain Gap in snow that was “shoe mouth deep” (We think this means the top of the shoe) on September 25, and marched another 170 miles to King’s Mountain. The militia provided their own horses, provisions and arms, and travelled without a single wagon. Once at King’s Mountain, Americans fought Americans in a bloody and decisive chapter of the American Revolution. The British Loyalists were defeated, mostly because they were surrounded, but also because they were on top of a hill, and firing downhill upon the patriots most of their shots went high.

I crossed Yellow Mountain Gap today. I am also fortunate to have visited King’s Mountain, so I was pretty excited about it. King’s Mountain is right off of I-84 just as you cross into Georgia, and I highly recommend going.

Today was such an unbelievable day, I don’t know where to begin. I started the day at over 6,200 feet, in the middle of a cloud. The shelter on Roan is really nice, in that it has four walls and a door. It was easy to sleep in because there was very little light coming in, so we didn’t get started until late. Once off of Roan Mountain, the trail crosses Carver Gap and then takes you on a full day’s hike of balds and ridges that are collectively known as the Roan Highlands. It is an awesome and unbelievable country! Entire mountaintops are covered with grass and rocks, and you can see the route of the trail for miles and miles as it follows the ridge.

That is, when you can see more than a few feet in front of you. I experienced every kind of weather today. I started out inside a cloud, with high winds. Pretty soon it was thundering and there was lightning, and then a heavy rain. Not long after that, it was sunny. Soon after that, it was hailing, and then raining again. At times, there was rain and sunshine at the same time. Suffice it to say I saw quite a show today. I could not see off of the first couple of balds, but once I was up on Little Hump and Hump Mountains I could see for 100 miles or more. I could see the rain coming long before it would reach where I was, which only took about 5 minutes for it to travel that far. This would be repeated, as it would clear in between each shower. The whole time up on the ridge, I was buffetted by gale-force winds. Every second step was a step to brace myself against the wind on the high ridge.

At one point, I heard this very loud sound that sounded like an approaching jet or freight train. It got louder and louder, and was coming from my right. I look in that direction, and suddenly I see the branches of the trees all bend in my direction, and a split second later I am hit with a gust so powerful that it nearly knocked me over.

I cannot think of too many places that are more beautiful than what I saw today. The weather and the constantly changing clouds only made it better. As I came to the top of the last of the balds, I had a panoramic view of the ridge as it meanders down for several miles, and then becomes covered in trees again. In the distance is Grandfather Mountain, with white clouds loosely hung from its peaks. The clouds are spectacular, making a thousand shapes at once. And there, right where a hiker is standing on top of a bald a mile away, is the start of a magnificent rainbow that stretches into the valley.

As Tom Racette used to say, “I wonder what the poor people are doing right now?” He wasn’t talking about money.




  Mom wrote @

Hey kiddo – Thanks for thinking of me and the Mother’s Day Wish – reminds me of a standing ovation for a bouquet of roses and sharing the secret of the Wyoming chaperone!!! I’ll pick up my roses in a few weeks!!
I can’t wait to see the pictures!! Take care and happy hiking!
Love ya bunches – Mom

  Justin Racette wrote @

Jeff, I’m feeling pretty poor reading your posts, and I am sure my dad does too. I’m getting your first Alaska goodie box together this weekend. I hope you make Trail days!

  Tom Racette wrote @

Jeff-Way to go! What an advanture. I too am feeling pretty poor compared to you right now. Continued happy trails and safe travels. Tom Racette

  Steve Carter wrote @

Jeff, I have been following your trip. My wife and I are going to section Shenandoah National Park starting May 8th. Hope to see you on the trail.

  JD Auton wrote @

Jeff…check uour directions for Kings Mountain…it’s off of I-85 in South Carolina – not I-84 in Georgia

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