So we’ve been going to the gym regularly but have done no hiking since we returned to Asheville several months ago. First I was sick for two weeks, then we had a record-rainfall May and by June we were knee-deep in visits to dentists and doctors (all routine), with our architect, and to showrooms for appliances, lighting, tile, floors, etc., for the house we’re building on a beautiful site just south of Asheville.
Since we’re out of hiking shape, we’ve picked short (for us) hikes of about 5 miles and 1,200 feet of elevation gain. My typical idea of a day hike is 8 miles with at least 1,500 feet of elevation gain but since it’s August and we haven’t been hiking, we’re starting off with a few easy hikes.
Our first hike is supposed to be on the Appalachian Trail from Carvers Gap up to Roan Mountain but the hiking book we were using just said to “go through the gap in the fence on to the AT” from the parking area. We looked to the left of the parking area, saw a fence with a gap and a sign for the AT and went that way. For some reason we never looked to the right (of course we knew the AT also went that way) but had we looked, we would have seen another fence with a gap and a sign for the AT and might have gone that way (the correct way) instead.
As it was, we hiked through some lovely woods and came out to the former site of the Cloudland Hotel before turning back to our car. It was an overcast day, actually foggy where we were since the peaks are above 5,000 feet and the clouds were low. Despite not having any of the fabulous views promised by the hike (had we gone in the correct direction) we didn’t miss anything because the clouds would have prevented any outlooks.
Still a good little outing and a lovely drive up to the North Carolina-Tennessee line, in an area we haven’t seen yet.
For our second hike, we’re starting from the Blue Ridge Parkway’s Walker’s Knob Overlook on our way to Little Butt. We’re actually hiking on the Big Butt trail but all the hiking guides I’ve consulted say that while there’s a great rocky outcrop with views of Mt. Mitchell (highest peak in this area) and the Black Mountain Range from Little Butt, Big Butt is all treed-in and not worth the extra mile and a half or so of effort. Later, in trying to figure our how much elevation we did on the hike (about 1,300 feet), I see various hiking blogs that say there are views from Big Butt. Too late now.
The trail turns out to be a bit of a rollercoaster, as we immediately descend from the parking lot at Walker’s Knob into the forest. Soon we’re headed up a bit, then down, then up again. I lose count of how many times this happens. The directions say that after Point Misery (not nearly as bad as it sounds), we’ll be heading down some wooden steps, so it’s easy to know when we get to that part. In addition to the wooden stairs, it’s also the steepest “down” we’ve done so far. Of course, we’ll need to go back up to get to Little Butt. It’s at this point that I tell Walt this is an out-and-back hike, meaning we’ll be coming back up these steps in an hour or so on our way back to the car.
Turns out there are many more steps on our way to the top of Little Butt. But once up, we easily find the side trail to the rocky viewpoint, sitting and enjoying the view, a snack and a break before we return back down our rollercoaster to the car.
Just at the end, we run into a man doing some trail work, making paths across the trail for water to run across and away from the trail instead of straight down it (as water will tend to do). We had found the trail very well-maintained and thank him for his hard work. We have a short conversation about nearby trails before Walt and I head home, well content with our return to hiking.