- Distance: Long/overnight
- Terrain: Difficult
- Location: Unicoi Gap trailhead (White/Towns County)
The temperatures were
unseasonably warm at the end of January so we took a chance and did an
overnight trip on the Appalachian Trail between Unicoi Gap and Tray Mountain.
I'm pretty sure James wanted to kill me after that trip, so we've taken a few
weekends off since then.
The weather was absolutely heavenly with clear blue skies and highs in the 60's, so the challenging terrain was definitely worth it. This is not an easy hike, as it starts out immediately climbing Rocky Mountain, then another smaller mountain (not sure which one), then Tray Mountain. And since it is not a loop, you have to then turn around and hike Rocky Mountain again to get back to the parking area at Unicoi Gap. Should you not want climb Rocky Mountain twice, there are parking areas at the base of Tray Mountain (best described as a muddin' pit when we were there due to rain/snow during the past week) and Rocky Mountain (Andrews Cove parking area).
Both Rocky Mountain and Tray Mountain are over 4000 feet, so I felt quite accomplished when we were done. A little sore and tired, but definitely proud. I have been very busy and stressed out at work lately (hence the lack of posting) and I really needed to get outside and be away from everything for a while. It was absolutely quiet and peaceful at night, other than a few bird sounds. We ended up camping at the summit of the smaller mountain between Rocky and Tray Mtn, so we had a great view of the sunrise and sunset.
As I mentioned before, it had snowed the previous week and
although the weather was much warmer by the time we were there, the northern
sides of the mountains were still covered with snow. It was strange to be in
sunny, 60 degree weather wearing lightweight clothing and seeing snow on the
ground. It was also extremely hard to hike in!! It basically felt like
quicksand. I have hiked in snow before but not while wrangling a dog and with a
large backpack on. Trekking poles are recommended!!
Sidenote: I have seen "hands free" leashes before
and always laughed at the concept (basically a belt for the human, with a leash
attached), however, we ended up looping our backpack waist straps through the
handle of the dog leashes and it was incredibly easier to hike this way.
Tennille had a blast camping and "helping" gather sticks for the
fire. Nova was a little unsure, but ended up loving the sleeping bag concept. I
have a feeling she will like camping better in warm weather.