We spent the past few days camping and doing a bit of hiking on the AT up at Roan Mountain, in the high Appalachians in northeast Tennessee near the North Carolina border. The weather started out cool, crisp and sunny – but turned to clouds and mists in the mountains, and a bit of rain at night. Somehow, I think hiking the Smoky Mountains in the mists is quite fitting of its name; it brings its own form of mysterious beauty.
Up on the mountain, the hiking was cool and damp as we were engulfed in swirling clouds. We couldn’t see out across the mountains from the open balds, which normally brings some breath-taking views – but mist provided a sense of wonderful mystery and almost a sense of disorientation at times. Lots of backpackers and day-hikers were out, regardless.
On the Trail near Round Bald, there is a memorial to Pierce Templeton situated among some rocks – with a Bat Cape tied around the cross marker. Apparently he was known as Batman. I don’t know if he was a local, a through-hiker, or a devoted day-hiker, or some combination of … but seeing the cape fluttering in the mist was both moving and a bit eerie. Rest peacefully, Pierce.
At Roan Mountain State Park we took some time to visit the historic Miller Farmstead. The park was holding its annual Autumn Harvest celebration at the Farmstead, and we enjoyed getting to tour the grounds and the farmhouse, and also to parktake in some food and music. A number of local craftspeople were on hand, showing their talents – from woodworking to soap-making to spinning.
We enjoyed the sound of Appalachian folk music performed on the porch of the old farmhouse by a talented couple playing fiddle, banjo, dulcimer, autoharp, and guitar.
In the old Miller farmhouse – which was inhabited by the family’s descendents until the 1960’s – the walls of the second-floor bedrooms are papered on old newspaper. Remarkable to look at, and read the old dates, articles, prices of things in ads. Apparently the papering was a cheap way to provide a little protection from drafts, maybe a bit of insulation. As time has passed, it has yellowed and become tattered and peeling – yet I’m glad it remains.
The Appalachians in the fall have such an indescribable air to them – whether you are able to enjoy the fall colors on a clear sunny day, or hiking through misty glades of rhododendrons and patches of autumn-red high mountain blueberries, traversing mountain creeks and open balds. It’s a beautiful place; come visit.