December 26th & 27th, 2008 - I had a great backpacking trip with my two good friends Sam Humston and Jimmy Humston on my favorite section of the Appalachian Trail in Tennessee.


We started at Carver's Gap (elevation 5512') heading north on the A.T.  The fog was very dense as we crossed the summits of Round Bald and Jane Bald so we didn't get the incredible views we'd hoped for, but the rain held off for us making it a pleasant hike.     


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Brothers Jimmy and Sam... Near Jane Bald

  Bill and Jimmy in the Thick Fog

We descended down into Yellow Mountain Gap, and stopped at the Overmountain Barn for a break and a snack.  At this point we were under the clouds giving us great views down Roaring Creek Valley into North Carolina.  We almost decided to stay at the barn for the night, but it was early in the day so we flipped a coin to decide if we should continue.  The coin said "go", so we headed on up Little Hump Mountain.    

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View Down Roaring Creek Valley from the Overmountain Barn   Sam & Jimmy at the Overmountain Barn
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Another View of the Barn   Bill and Jimmy Stop for Lunch in the Loft
The climb from the barn to the summit of Little Hump Mountain is a tough one... ascending from 4682' to 5459' in less than two miles.  It seemed even tougher late in the day.  On the summit we met a nice local couple that lives near Yellow Mountain.  We talked for a while, and they took the summit photo for us.    
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Sam, Jim, and Bill on the 5459' Summit 

of  Little Hump Mountain

  My Tent Near Bradley Gap

Following Little Hump we descended down into Bradley Gap where we found a nice campsite and spring in a grove of trees.  We set up our tents, refilled our water supply, and built a nice fire.  After cooking dinner we set around the campfire and talked for quite a while into the night.  The temperatures were only around 40 degrees, but the brisk wind made it seem much colder.  This completed an 8.0 mile day (including our .6 mile trek down to the barn and back).


We rolled out about 7:30 the next morning, packed up, and were back on the trail around 8:30.  We immediately had our hardest climb of the entire trip... Hump Mountain's 5587' summit.  Bradley Gap gave us nice views early in the morning though, which made the climb enjoyable.           

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Sammy in the Morning  

My First View of the Fog-

Covered Hump Mountain

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Nice Views Toward Watauga Lake   Shadow Self-Portrait at Bradley Gap

After a sharp ascent of about 700 feet in less than a mile, we reached the summit of Hump Mountain.  Clouds were rolling over the peak, but cleared from time to time to give us nice vistas, especially looking back at the mountains we'd crossed the day before.    

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Views from the Climb Up Hump Mountain    Jimmy on the Final Approach to Hump's Summit 
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Sammy Summits Hump Mountain  

Jimmy Checking Out the Wonderful Views 

When the Fog Briefly Clears 

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Looking Back at the Mountains We Traversed Yesterday   Jimmy on the 5587' Summit
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Bill on the Summit of Hump Mtn   Sam and Bill Taking Photos
We left Hump Mountain and descended down a very windy and foggy Houston Ridge, hoping to see some of the long-horn cattle in the area, but we had no luck.  I think we were the only creatures crazy enough to be on that windy ridgeline!  
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Sam and Jim Stopping for Lunch on a Rocky Section of the Trail


Views Toward Sugar and Beech Mountains 

(Taken Near Doll Flats)



We finally got down out of the wind as we made our way to Doll Flats.  This area gave us some of the best views of our trip looking into the mountains of western North Carolina.                     

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More Views    Sam and Jim Make Their Way to Doll Flats
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Sam and Bill   Bill at Doll Flats
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Jimmy on the Descent to Highway 19E

We made a fast descent for 3 more miles past Doll Flats until we arrived at Highway 19E (elevation 2880'), where Jimmy and Sam's Mother picked us up and shuttled us back to my car at Carver's Gap, ending a great trip.    

We hiked 6.3 miles the second day, giving us a total trip of 14.3 miles.  Thanks to Sam Humston for some of the photos above!   


Total Miles Hiked:  14.3  



Getting There:  


Driving - From Elizabethton take Rte. 19E to the town of Roan Mountain.  Turn right onto Rte. 143 and proceed 12.8 miles to the TN/NC state line.  This is Carver's Gap.  There's a parking lot on your right.    


Trails - To go north on an Appalachian Trail (like we did)...

After parking, cross the road and immediately ascend up the Appalachian Trail following the white blazes.  It is 13.7 miles to hike to the next road crossing, which is Highway 19E.    

  THE A.T.