AT Hike | Carver’s Gap to Kincora Hostel
A 40 mile, three & half day hike from Carver’s Gap to Kincora Hikers’ Hostel.
On March 17-22, 2015, I was introduced to my first hike with Youtube Gear & trip reviewer Chad “Stick” Poindexter on the legendary Appalachian Trail. It is one of hopefully many to come as we try to experience as many “section hikes” as possible. Stick has already completed all sections starting from Springer Mountain in Georgia to the Kincora Hiker’s Hostel in Hampton, Tennessee which numbers into the 400 mile range. I on the other hand, only have completed around 50miles as of this past March’s hike.
The Appalachian Trail is one of the longest continuously marked footpaths in the world, measuring roughly 2,180 miles in length. The Trail goes through fourteen states along the crests and valleys of the Appalachian mountain range from the southern terminus at Springer Mountain, Georgia, to the Trail’s northern terminus at Katahdin, Maine.
After arriving late Wednesday night (due to having a regular workday ) at Kincora Hikers’ Hostel just off of the Appalachian Trail (AT) in Hampton, TN, I met up with Chad “Stick” Poindexter(SticksBlog.com), Blake Echols, Thomas Calloway, and Dave Pritz. After talking for a while and aggravating a few hikers who had turned in early for the evening, we bunked up to catch some rest for our hike the next day.
Thursday morning, we loaded up in Bob Peoples’ (owner of the hostel and overall asset to the AT) truck to be shuttled atop Roan Mountain. However, things ALMOST got dicey for me before we even got started. Prior to the ascent, we stop at McDonald’s to grab some breakfast and I was the last of our group to order. When I get outside to the truck, everyone is laughing to the fact that Bob had already pulled out of the parking lot and was driving to our jumping off point on the AT. Thankfully Chad & Blake realized I was not in the truck and prompted Bob to the one less hiker in his truck. It offered funny banter as we finally made our way to the top of Roan Mountain.
Once to the trailhead, the door opens to stiff biting wind with ice pellets providing a unique awakening experience. Leaving out from Carver’s Gap, the hike took us over the Roan Highlands in near constant sleet. Enough to see it collect on the trail and surrounding ground; making it icy slick at some spots.
The 1st night, we stayed at Overmountain Shelter. A red barn large enough to to fit at least 30+ hikers potentially. We set up atop in the loft with 3 AT thru-hikers (2 Germans: “Mother nature & In Between” & 1 Israelis: “Stretch”), a couple from DC and their dog. Making the grand total for that night at 10 individuals &1 canine. “The Barn” offered warmth and wind protection throughout the cold night.
The 2nd night, we sought refuge from the day’s constant rain 18miles away from Overmountain up and over Little Hump & Big Hump mountains at 3 level Mountaineer Falls Shelter. Those occupying this shelter were the 3 thru-hikers from Overmountain and our crew.
That night at the shelter, the first 2 levels were filled and I occupied a space between AT thru-hiker “Stretch” and fellow hiker Blake. Stretch and I shared pictures on our smartphones and spoke about his AT experiences thus far as he was around 395 miles hiked from Springer Mountain in Georgia. We exchanged emails and contact info due to striking up an impromptu friendship. We spoke of food that we all were craving as this is the #1 common everyday topic discussed next to beer and trail magic of various kind. I asked him if he had ever eaten a “Moon Pie.” He stated he had not, so I proceeded to describe this wonderful southern delicacy in such detail that I swear I could taste it. I pledged to mail-drop him a care-package when I got back to Alabama. The next morning, we part ways as he was planning to hike to Kincora Hostel to take a “Zero” day (A “Zero” is basically a day where one doesn’t hike any mileage for whatever reason the hiker feels is valid).
After Spending the first 2 days in the inclement weather of sleet, rain, wind, and freezing temperatures…as we make some short distance from Mountaineer Falls Shelter, the sun breaks though and offers an opportunity to finally dry out. As the day went on, more and more of the high mountain clouds receded. On this day, being just a few miles from Mountaineer Falls Shelter, we pick up 2 new hikers…2 Red Tick Coonhounds by the proclaimed names of red and blue (due to their collars). They end up following us for 8 of the 10 miles for this day only leaving to us occasionally in order to run some small animal they would trail providing melodious, drawn out bawls to show their excitement in a potential game.
The 3rd night, we camped at Moreland Gap Shelter, giving us a chance to tent at this site.
It offered a very dry night where we finally got a chance to relax by a campfire.
We break camp for our short 6mile Sunday stroll back to Kincora where our cars awaited. The night offered a wonderfully dry night even to the point of there not being any condensation inside or outside our tents. Our hounds continue their trek with us as we had found out they were lost from a gentleman that had suffered a stroke. Their collars offered a phone number that Chad had called to let the owner know they were following us and they could be picked up around Dennis Cove near the Kincora Hostel. When we finally arrived at the trailhead located near the hostel, a family had bought some extra Krispy Kreme doughnuts to provide some trail-magic for calorie deprived AT hikers. To our surprise…THEY WERE STILL WARM!!!!! Wow… what a treat when all one could think about was decadent food.
It was a great trip that held its own adventure as a gift that now I can re-live over & over (EXCEPT FOR THE FACT I LOST MY LICENSE & CREDIT CARD ON THE AT)… Thanks Chad & Blake for spotting me some cash to make it home.
Why hike 40miles in just above freezing weather in sleet, rain, & sun…?
To have an adventure!!!
Oh, if you are wondering…I did mail-drop a care package to AT thru-hiker “Stretch.” I planned to drop him another in Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia.
ALSO…he did get himself a “Moon Pie!”
Until next time on the trail,
For a short video log series & trail log of the hike, visit http://sticksblog.com/2015/03/28/at-section-hike-carvers-gap-to-dennis-cove-rd-kincora-hostel/#more-7715