BSA Troop 328

Oak Ridge, Tennessee

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Roan Highlands Backpacking Trip

On the weekend of September 9-10 the troop went backpacking to the Roan Highlands near Elizabethton, TN. We met at Kern UMC at 8:00AM on Saturday morning and got to the trailhead just before 11:00AM. It was a beautiful day and a very pleasant hike out to Grassy Ridge where we camped. Although this was a relatively short hike, it is very interesting and the elevation gain gave us a good workout. During the hike we passed through an island of old growth spruce forest left over from the last ice age, patches of rhododendron and other heath scrub, blueberry thickets, and grassy balds. This is one of the most biologically diverse areas in North America. We camped at 6,280ft so the temperature was in the 30's when we got up on Sunday morning. In addition to the cold, the wind was howling and we were above the cloud level so everything was wet from condensation. We decided to hike on down to the trailhead where the conditions would be better and have brunch rather than having breakfast at the summit. We plan got back to Kern UMC around 2:30PM on Sunday afternoon.

Packing Checklist
Beginner Backpacking Tips
Trail Map

Check out the awesome video from David Laffoon.

Here we are at teh Carvers Gap trailhead. The Appalacian Trail crosses the road here just a few feet inside the Tennessee state line.

Hiking through the remenant forrest (red spruce and frasier fur) left over from tha last ice age.

Hiking up and over Round Bald.

Next we hiked up and over Jane's Bald.

Progress was slow after Jane's Bald because the scouts kept stopping to graze for blueberries.

On the way from Jane's Bald to Grassy Ridge Bald we left the AT for a spur trail that went up and through a rodenderon thicket.

The scouts hung out for a while at the summit of Grassy Ridge Bald while we scouted for a good campsite.

We eventully found a good campsite on the far side of Garssy Ridge that was somewhat protected from the wind. It turned out to be the same place we camped in 2013.

Sunday morning we woke up to high winds and cold temperatures. Also we were above the cloud level so we could only see a few feet in front of us and everything was wet from the condensation. We decided to head on down to the trailhead at about 750 feet lower elevation and eat there rather than trying to cook breakfast in camp.

The weather was very plesant back down at the trailherd.