Day 165 / Roan Trip
Instead of running 50 miles last week I hiked/backpacked 50 miles on Roan Highlands. It was the longest backpacking trip I did, totalling 4 days.
I started on Thursday after work. My friend and I drove 7 hours down to Tennessee. We did not quite get there. We ended up at Damascus, Virginia and we were going to camp at a campground but unfortunately the ranger told us the it was full and we were not allowed to camp (at the picnic pavilion).
So we continued driving hoping to reach our destination by midnight and hopefully still able to set up tent camping at the Mountain Harbour hostel, where we would leave our car.
We passed by the Cherokee National Park on our way and we decided turned off the road did a stealth camping there. We survived the night uneventful (yes but, we almost ran over a bear when a cub ran toward our car). Bears are my friend’s mascot and she would have been heart broken.
The next day we continued on our trip. We came across a beautiful sight at Lake Watauga. It was a foggy morning. We got to experience the Smoky Mountain without having to go to the Smoky.
We arrived at the Mountain Harbour Hostel and we left our car and took a shuttle to Ervin, TN about 50 miles away. They dropped us off at the trail head. We hiked the Appalachian Trail back to Mountain Harbour Hostel (Hwy 19E), passing Roan Mnt and Carver Gap on the way.
There were many hard climbs. There were miles of uphills. The highest point was Roan Mountain at 6000 ft, which we reached on Sunday. There were many stunning sights. Tennessee is unlike anything we have seen in Virginia. My friend said after hiking in Tennessee and coming back to Virginia, mountains here are like hills. They are flat in comparison.
Physically, I was not too tired from the trip. The trip was hard but nothing compare to the runs I have been doing. I am physically fit and strong.
I learned from the trip to bring more water, food, and to be better at find paths. I got a chance to lead on the first day where I was the designated person to sweep the trail of snakes. We didn’t see any (at least not me) but people spotted coperheads and big black snakes.
Most importantly I should not have left my hiking boots at home. I was tripping and falling the whole weekend. My left ankle is kind of messed up. I hope I can still run a marathon this weekend.
There is no word for me to describe the trip. It was magical. The weather cooperated. The experience could have been like the time I went to Peru except that I felt it is less so because it is closer to home and it is always available for me to go back.
I like it the trip not so much about the sights but the time I was able to spent with my friend. It is worth a million to see the smile and joy on her face as she glazed at the sunrise or sunset each day while we were on the trip.
I tried to make every effort to go on every hiking trips she plans but I know the chance of doing that is less and less as I am ramping up my effort and focusing more toward my running. Boo, she said. It is certainly I could go back to Roan Mountain any time but not every time I get to go with my friend. Running is still my passion and everything.
I made many other sacrifices for my running and many of those I gladly made without a second thought but giving up on backpacking with my friend, is almost unimaginable painful. I tried to combine running with backpacking, though so far I was not able to pull it off.
On this last trip, I brought my running hydration vest and shoes, but in the end, I couldn’t bear the thought of leaving my friend at the camp at the end of the day while I do my miles. My running would have been just as long as the hike itself and it seems so silly to hike the trail during the day and then run the whole thing over, while the others sleep/rest – I wouldn’t mind but I would make others worry about me.
It is almost time to put backpacking away. I took up backpacking to help me be a better runner/ now trail running. I have reached my goal and I have become a stronger runner.