Toasted blueberry bagels with cream cheese for breakfast, then we hit the trail. We had a slow start down to the stream where we filled up water, then our science teacher friend Mowgli caught us from behind. The kids swung in behind him, started chatting, and set a record-breaking pace. In addition to being able to walk on his hands, Mowgli has the very rare ability to carry on a conversation while going uphill.
While in conversation, Cartwheel and RobinHood didn’t even seem to notice that they were going uphill. Before we knew it, we had gone fourteen miles up and over Roan Mountain and gained twenty-five hundred feet of elevation.
We stopped for lunch around one thirty at an old barn that has been converted into a hiker shelter. The view down the valley was majestic. After a leisurely lunch of salmon, cheese, hummus, carrots and apple wrapped in a tortilla, together with plenty of chatting with fellow hikers, we continued on in the afternoon. We hiked across grassy bald ridge lines with views for miles into North Carolina in one direction and Tennessee in the other. The wind was whipping and we could see the weather rolling in. The kids could almost lean against the wind without falling. It was a day that made me miss my real camera. I’m hopeful that the new battery will be waiting for us in Damascus in a few days.
We made it off the ridge just as the sky turned menacingly dark, and ducked into the thin cover of leafless trees as a late afternoon thunderstorm opened up the heavens and temporarily turned the trail into a babbling brook. The tempest was short lived, and the skies cleared again. We made it to the state line where we said good bye to North Carolina for good as we leave its shared border with Tennessee to cut through the northeastern corner of that state. We paused for our state line ritual where each person passes out a piece of candy to each other person and shares something that the family member did in the last state that made the giver grateful to be their hiking companion.
Then we found a nice tranquil campsite, where the kids hung the hammock, the adults hung the clothes, we shared a delightful dinner, and tucked in to bed, wondering whether tomorrow will really bring the weather-maker everyone has been forecasting. Cartwheel summed it up best on the ridge line this afternoon, “it doesn’t get much better than this.”