This weekend my friends and I backpacked in the Roan Highlands. I have day hiked Roan Mountain a few times before but only a couple miles along the trail. This was my first experience backpacking. My friends and I had a wonderful time. We had beautiful, cool weather. This section of the Appalachian Trail strings together a series of balds (mountain tops covered by grasses or shrubs instead of trees). Unlike higher peaks with an alpine zone that prevent trees from growing, Appalachian balds are short enough that trees could grow but, for unknown reasons, do not. Balds are great for hiking because there are unobstructed view all around. Hiking on balds, and so many in a row, is such a different experience than most hikes in the area. It felt like hiking through a Lord of the Rings film.
According to our route on Caltopo, we hiked 21.7 miles total with 5579 feet of climbing. Starting at Carver’s Gap, we hiked 5.5 miles to just below Yellow Mountain Gap with full packs. We set up camp at an old, converted barn. We then hiked 7.6 miles with day packs to Hump Mountain and back. I found this cool site that shows what other peaks are visible & how far away the horizon is. On the map, the red region is what is visible (not obstructed by a closer mountain) and the lavender line is the horizon. From Hump Mountain, the farthest bald we went to, we could see Sugar Mountain and directly behind that was Grandfather Mountain, 11 miles away as the crow files. The farthest peaks that would have been theoretically visible was the Pinnacle and Crowders Mountain. Both 75 miles away and almost in South Carolina! The first photo is from Hump Mountain looking northwest toward High Knob. On Sunday we hiked 3 miles round trip to have breakfast and see the sunrise on a nearby bald. Finally, we hiked 5.5 miles back to the car with full packs.