Campsite to Overmountain Shelter – 21.9 miles
Woke up to the sound of snow still falling, so I had little motivation to get out of my sleeping bag and tent. Didn’t leave camp until 8:10am. Made it to Overmountain by 6. It wasn’t snowing for long and thankfully it didn’t really rain. It was mainly just foggy all day and almost no wind. The last time I did this section a couple of years ago with mom, it was warm, but there was also a thunderstorm that created a lot of fog. Not too different this time except for the cold. I even missed the same sharp turn in the trail as last time. This time because I was hiking and talking with a guy – S’mores and neither of us noticed a problem until we got to a road with no white blaze. Looking forward to getting to Mountain Harbor tomorrow!
I woke up to the sound of snow falling on my tent and immediately let myself close my eyes for a little bit longer in hopes the snow would stop long enough for me to pack up. That was not the case so eventually I got myself moving (mostly because I always have to pee really bad in the morning), grabbed my food bag, and ate my breakfast in my tent. Yes, you are not supposed to eat food in your tent because of the smell but I could not care less at that point so that’s what I did (insert shrugging emoji here). After packing up all of my things inside my tent, I hit the sides of my tent to knock off as much snow as I could before getting out and packing away a vey wet and very cold tent. As I was strapping my backpack on, the other hiker staying at this campsite poked his head out of his tent. Both of us had slow mornings that day.
This section on the AT to Mountain Harbor was a familiar one to me. I had section hiked it with my mom – Italian Ice – a few years earlier. Roan Mountain was a well known spot on the AT because of amazing views and at the top is the Roan High Knob Shelter which is the highest shelter in elevation on the AT. Unfortunately, I did not get a chance to see any views the first time I hiked over Roan Mountain because there was a thunderstorm for the entire day that did not end until we got to Overmountain Shelter for the night. The thunderstorm also caused my mom and I to miss a sharp turn in the trail – that we were also warned about – because our heads were down to shield our faces from the rain. We did not realize our mistake until we came out to a road a few tenths of a mile later and not finding any trails or white blazes on the other side of the road, we remembered the warning we were given.
Back to 2018 when I was thru hiking, this day I would also be hiking over Roan Mountain. Thankfully there was no thunderstorm and the snow stopped after a short while but because of the snow earlier in the day, it was very foggy so I still have yet to see the amazing views of Roan Mountain. The other hiker that stayed at the campsite with me was a very fast hiker so he was ahead of me at this point. Halfway up Roan Mountain, I passed by him taking a break at a campsite. Up and over the top of the climb, he had caught back up to me and we hiked together for a while chatting about our lives. His trail name is S’mores. I don’t remember the full story of how he got his trail name but basically he ended up at some random campsite of (I think) non-thru hikers who were making S’mores. They invited him to join and because of his hiker hunger and love of s’mores, he ate a shit ton of them and thus ended up with the trail name S’mores. S’mores if you are reading this, let me know if I remembered this correctly!
Engrossed in conversation as we were coming down the other side of Roan Mountain, we ended up coming out on a road and I immediately realized that I did it again. I missed the sharp turn. I recounted the story of when this happened to my mom and I to S’mores as we turned around to find our way back to the AT. This second time around, I saw that there were a few long and skinny branches laid across the trail to show that there is a turn there. If you aren’t paying close attention – like S’mores and I – it would be easy to miss. Back on the correct trail, S’mores and I continued trading stories until he eventually pulled ahead of me.
There was one more shelter to pass by before I got to Overmountain Shelter. When I got to it I saw S’mores again looking like he wanted to stay there. I told him about the next shelter that was less than 2 miles away and he decided to hike the rest of the way with me. Overmountain Shelter is a large 2 story converted red barn that can fit up to 30 people. It has 2 sleeping platforms at the bottom separated by a picnic table and a ladder in the back leading up the enclosed 2nd floor with 1 small window. It was still really cold that day and we could hear some other hikers up on the 2nd floor so S’mores and I headed up there to set up our sleeping pads and bags. S’mores had met one of the hikers up there already – it is very common to run into hikers you know but haven’t seen for a while. Another hiker up there went by the trail name Pyromaniac because she liked fire and setting things on fire…thankfully she refrained from doing that here except to cook her food. I found out that the day before, Pyro had heard from her trail family that was behind her that they were trying to catch up to her. To slow down her pace she hiked only 4 miles to Overmountain Shelter and has already camped there for a day and a half and said she was planning on staying there until her friends caught up. That’s some real dedication to a trail family.
Before it got dark, I made sure to use the privy to pee before going to sleep. I wish I got a close up picture of the seat because someone had bedazzled it and drawn a poop emoji on it. Minus the added decorations to the toilet, this privy is famous for being very minimal. As in just enough wall coverage to barely block someone’s view from the barn from being able to see your bare ass on the toilet seat. It doesn’t sound very inviting but at least to me, it is an exhilarating place to relieve yourself and I recommend everyone try it out. It comes with a nice view too. Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it!