Iron Mountain Gap to Low Gap

The Oldtimers hiked on the AT recently from Iron Mountain Gap to Low Gap. After breakfast at Clarence's, mom, Susan, Debi, and I rode with CB up to the gap while Howard, Lisa, and Mike followed Bill to Red Fork Rd to leave a shuttle. While waiting on the other hikers at Iron Mountain Gap we saw several Ravens (or possibly the same one several times). The 'whoosh-whoosh' of their wings could also be heard as they flew overhead.

Fern, Sunlight, and Snow Sentinels

There were a few inches of snow on the ground and a coating of hoarfrost on the trees. We hiked up to Little Bald Knob (not actually a bald anymore, though according to CB it once was). We climbed from about 3723 ft at Iron Mountain Gap up to 4459 ft at little bald knob in about two miles.

Howard, Mom, and Lisa

Ice Icicles
The water seeping through the exposed rock face created this frozen cascade

Walking Birch
This birch was either making it's way for North Carolina or sneaking into Tennessee. I'm not sure which.

Racoon Tracks Racoon Tracks
As we descended from the knob saw some wild turkey tracks, maybe some bobcat tracks, and definitely some raccoon tracks.

Snow on the AT Giant Tree
Leaf, Bark, and Moss

Passing through Cherry Gap, Howard commented that the gap is the "official" dividing line between Iron Mountain and Unaka Mountain. We stopped for a bite at the Cherry Gap shelter, checked out the "landscaped" piped spring, and relocated a fire pit that had been moved to close to the shelter.

Bushwacking Bushwacking Bushwacking

Ascending from Cherry Gap after lunch we climbed back up about 500 ft and then descended again on our way down to Low Gap, but just before the last hill we bushwhacked down off the AT to FS 4344 below the trail.

4344 4344 Ice

We followed this road to where it joins 230 (turning left on 230 instead of right would take one all the way across Unaka to Indian Grave Gap on the other side). We then followed 230 down to the gate where Bill's truck had been left for a shuttle.

Spider and Boot Track Spider

Spotted this spider on the road near the gate. I wasn't sure if she was alive, but she moved a little after I nudged her. She was just very, very cold. Even in the afternoon the temperature was near freezing.

Small cascade near the gate on Red Fork Rd.

This was a very good hike and my second with the Oldtimers. It was only about 6 miles including the distance on 4344 and 230, but strenuous at times. I look forward to revisiting this section (among other places) in a few months when the ephemerals are out.


Rattlesnake Ridge Hike

I hiked for the first time with the Oldtimers recently. After breakfast at Clarence's in Unicoi we drove to Rock Creek Park and climbed up the Rattlesnake ridge trail to the Unaka Mountain overlook and back. This is about a ten-mile hike and pretty strenuous.
Hemlock on Unaka
Rhododendron Leaves Cup and Curl
I love this trail though and have hiked it many times. This time of year is especially beautiful. As one climbs the ridge up to nearly a mile high the flora is often covered with an icy coating of hoarfrost.
Laurel Hoarfrost
Natural Christmas Tree
Ridge Hoarfrost
The wind through the frozen tops of the trees made a rattling tinkling sound like a crystal chandelier.
Iced Trees
From Pleasant Fields at the end of the trail the rounded summit of Unaka Mountain could be seen above us as well as the frosted tops of other distant ridges.
Unaka Mountain
Ridge Hoarfrost
The wind was blowing up at the overlook and the temperature before factoring windchill was about 30 degrees. Needless to say, we didn't take very long for lunch and quickly got back into the woods and down the mountain...
Laurel Hoarfrost

When the Snow Falls

...one is drawn to the cold...

Road to Flint Mtn

...water so cold, only it's motion keeps it from freezing...

Baptism Hole

Ice and water


New Years Day Hike

The JC Hikers, Oldtimers, and Mid-Appalachain Clubs hiked Mt Rogers on New Years Day. This is a tradition to hike Mt Rogers every year, but it was my first year joining them. We hiked through the Lewis Fork Wilderness Area on the Appalachain and Pine Mountain Trails up nearly to Rhododendron Gap and back.

Pine Mountain Trail


Mt Rogers

Mt Rogers Huckleberry

Mt Rogers Rhodos

About Me

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This blog is a work in progress. An ardent perambulator and nature enthusiast; I take pictures of what I see and post them here occasionally.