Exposed Spaces and Backpacking Roan Mountain, Part I

This weekend we took Roscoe on an adventure.  Looking back, this was a pretty ambitious trip for our first dog vacation.  It started with my sister’s art opening entitled “Exposed Spaces” in the Reece Museum in Johnson City, Tennessee.  She did a HUGE collage called “River of Ash” about the Dan River coal ash spill in Eden, North Carolina.  We both grew up kayaking and canoeing on that river, so the art was a personal reaction to this environmental tragedy and half-assed clean-up effort on Duke Power’s part.  Check out her Kickstarter campaign here.

Roscoe doesn’t care about art, or being quiet in hotel rooms.  When we left the hotel room, we stood outside and waited to see if he would stop barking eventually.  No luck.  So, Roscoe came to the opening and we took turns keeping him company outside the gallery.  My whole family was there, so my mom and dad took a turn also.  I was a little distracted by the dog situation and also all the people that were there.  I wish I had been able to see the art in a less busy setting.  It is such a large and immersive piece that it would be best enjoyed in silence and without distractions.

We got room service in the morning instead of dealing with mutt + restaurant.  Best choice of the trip and very good waffles.  My mom stopped by the room in the morning to inform me she packed us brownies and then left them somewhere.  Nooooooooooo!  If you haven’t had my mother’s brownies, you haven’t had a brownie.

Driving up into the mountains was fun.  Ian drove and I just admired the scenery.  The leaves are just starting to turn.  In the valley, the trees are still green and summery, but at the top some are turning yellow.  I noticed that the tops of the mountains were in the low-lying clouds and I was thinking we’re going to be in fog.  What kind of idiot would go from nice warm summer and drive up into that fog?  Us, that’s who.

At Carver’s Gap, the fog did not disappoint.  It was beautiful, in a hazy sort of way.  The clouds/fog was moving so quickly, a break could open and close in a minute.  As we hiked the first few peaks, this trend continued.  So I had to be quick to capture any almost-sunny moments, like this one:

and this one:


We had taken a while to get here, so we stopped for lunch not too far in.  We were having trouble with Roscoe.  He was just so excited that he wasn't paying us much attention.  Roscoe was pulling on the leash and forgetting all the good leash manners I've been teaching him, no matter how many treats we had (and we brought the good stuff).  We contemplated just camping somewhere close and then heading back in the morning instead of the 2 night trip we had planned.

However, as we hiked on and the terrain started going down and down, we decided we didn't want to go back up those hills.  So, onward it is.  Ian discovered that the best way to deal with Roscoe was to assertively take the lead and block him from passing us.  This usually doesn't work that well, but the trail was narrow and Roscoe had a pack on that stuck out a good 4-5 inches on either side.  Mutt plans for world domination foiled!  He settled down once he realized he was not going to take the lead.

We got a good rhythm going and were able to make good time the rest of the afternoon.  We realized we could make Little Hump Mountain to camp.  We stopped in at the Overmountain Shelter, a cute little red barn made into a shelter that could sleep up to 20 people.

It seemed like a nice little spot, and if we had been smart we would have stopped there for the night.  However, there were other people there and we like to find our own spot.  So, onward to Little Hump.  As we were there it started to rain and we put on our rain gear.  Poor Roscoe, he didn't have a doggie poncho or anything.  The rest of the afternoon is a rainy, foggy blur.  I didn't get my camera out until we hit camp.  There were no breaks in the fog anymore.  At that point, the fog was so bad we almost missed the campsite.  It was nestled between some rocks and scraggly trees out on the grassy bald.  We were all three ready to be off our feet in a nice dry tent.  Even Roscoe appreciated the warmth and dryness.  I could just see him thinking it was so great we made this nice dry place in the horrible wet place.

 The whole night it rained off and on, and the tent shook from the wind.  There were a few times we woke up from the wind howling, wondering if we're about to lose our rainfly.  Our REI Quarter-Dome Plus held up well, though.  We realized the next morning we had even forgotten to use one of the snaps that attaches the rainfly to the tent.  Oops!

When the morning came, the sun started shining into the tent.  The sun!  Sunshine!  Yes!!!!  I got out of the tent (with Roscoe of course) and finally saw the view from our campsite.