The weather condition from late last night resulted in a stunning view from on top of the Knob in the morning.
I was on the trail by 9:00am with the anticipation of today being the money day: the balds of the Roan Highlands. It was an easy hike down to Carvers Gap, where exists a large parking area on a road over the mountains. It was a good spot to hit a real bathroom and water up. As you leave the gap going northbound, you are on the balds. The clouds and residual humidity impacted the views, but they were still breathtaking, especially walking on top of the ridge and seeing for miles to the west/north to Tennessee and east/south to North Carolina.
One interesting feature on this section was an electric fence housing a large collection of goats. I had read they were used on the balds to help keep the vegetation down to keep the balds bald. It sounds similar to the wild ponies on the balds of Mt. Rogers in Virginia.
There were several day hikers along the first mile or two from the gap, but once you reach the Grassy Ridge Bald trail, I was alone, again. I didn’t take the side trip up to Grassy Ridge Bald, but in hindsight, I wish I did. I also heard later that there is some spectacular camping up there.
At this point, two miles from Carvers Gap, this section of the balds ends and the trail descends into four miles of hiking through woods and rhodedendrums. It was a nice walk (and easy given the > 1000′ descent), but I would have much rather had views!
I ran into a Youth Ministry camping group from Johnson City at Stan Murray Shelter, and after talking to them, they convinced me to take the side trek to the famed Overmountain Shelter at Yellow Mountain Gap. This is a well known, barn-like shelter within the AT Community and I am glad I took the side trip. The view down the valley was beautiful. I can see why this is such a popular site.
As I made the hump up to Little Hump Mountain, I continued to experience many beautiful flowers and colorful flying creatures (moths and butterflies). There is also a really neat rhodedendrum tunnel that I imagine would be beautiful in June. There is a Forest Road that passes very closely to the Overmountain Shelter, and I ran into a few day hikers that parked there and were hiking this stretch. A great plan for a day hike to Little Hump Mountain and back. Once I got through the vegetation and was close to the summit of Little Hump Mountain, the views became awesome. This is why I did this trip.
I lingered on Little Hump for quite a while, taking in the views and drying my tent. It was probably the most sun I experienced during the entire trip, so it was good timing. Excellent 360 degree views from the Humps. Highlight of the trip.
I continued down to the destination camp site of Bradley Gap. I passed a sign that stated “Easy Water”, so I took heed and filled my water here. There were some campsites near, but I wanted to make it to Bradley Gap and see if I could camp somewhere with views. I made it to where the balds reappeared near Bradley Gap, and even hiked out into the gap below Hump Mountain, however the vegetation was so thick, there were no open areas for camping (too bad, for the views were phenomenal). When I read there was camping at the gap, I didn’t realize they meant 0.3 miles earlier in the woods.