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.
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.
The water seeping through the exposed rock face created this frozen cascade
This birch was either making it's way for North Carolina or sneaking into Tennessee. I'm not sure which.
As we descended from the knob saw some wild turkey tracks, maybe some bobcat tracks, and definitely some raccoon tracks.
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.
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.
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.
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.