As most of the country is being pummeled by excessive amounts of snow, we’re on the hunt for it. Constantly checking the weather in the mountains in hopes of finding some white stuff to go play in. On Monday, our best hiking buddies saw a post online of one of our favorite hiking destinations. They had gotten some snow! Not a lot, but considering we never get any, we were super excited about it! We planned to meet early the next morning and make the 3 hour drive to check it out for ourselves. It would be an epic first hike of the year!
As we got close, we started seeing small patches of snow, getting more and more prevalent as we ascended into the mountains. We arrived at the Carver’s Gap parking area where we’d start our hike to a beautiful sight! It wasn’t deep and puffy. It wasn’t enough to build a snowman, but these Southern transplants were elated at the sight just the same. And so were ALL of our pups! The zoomies kicked in as soon as everyone was unloaded from the cars and it brought a smile to all of our faces.
We crossed the road and picked up the Appalachian trail to hike up towards the balds. There are three of them on this section of the trail, each more stunning than the next. A bald, or grassy bald, if you aren’t familiar with the term, is basically a mountain summit covered in lush grasses or vegetation, as opposed to trees. There are a lot of them in the Southern Appalachians and we LOVE hiking up them, mostly because of the 360 degree views. Like these…
The three balds that we traversed on this hike are Round Bald, Jane Bald, and Grassy Ridge Bald. Each bald is higher in elevation than the last, giving you progressively more amazing views of the surrounding Blue Ridge mountains. These balds are part of the Roan Highlands, the longest stretch of balds in the Appalachians. The Roan Highlands sprawl out over almost 1000 acres of gorgeous, seemingly untouched grassy mountaintops.
We started our trek to the top of the first bald (and couldn’t help but exclaim “wow, it’s so beautiful!” over and over again. To make it even better, our little hiking crew grew by one awesome rescue mutt (Ernie) and his equally awesome owner Chelsea. They are new to hiking and seeing Ernie running around clearly enjoying their new hobby was such a treat. As was seeing Chelsea’s big smile as we walked around the beautiful balds with their seemingly endless views.
Ernie also brought out Boomer’s playful puppy side! They chased each other through the snow and ice like wild banshees and wrestled to their hearts’ content. It was so freaking cute.
My friend Lauren (@palmettomoonpointers) captured this awesome shot of them racing through the snow. I just love it!
It was obviously really cold (about 12 F I think), but we were all bundled up and actually pretty toasty, especially because we were moving most of the time. The dogs pretty much never stopped running. Boomer had her nose to the ground most of the time, tracking some small critter’s path that had run all over the balds I’m sure.
Whatever it was, she was having the time of her life and didn’t seem to mind that it was cold one bit. I’m sure her Hurtta Extreme warmer helped a whole lot too. Love this coat. Full review will be up on the blog in the next week sometime.
We ascended each of the three peaks, stopping to take in the view and watch the dogs explore.. and take a few pictures, of course!
With the cold temperatures, and it being a Tuesday, we only ran in to a few other people the whole time we were out. One of the people we met taught us a really fun bit of trivia. The ice that so gloriously coated all of the grasses and vegetation on the balds is called rime ice. I looked up the term when I got home to learn more about it. Rime ice actually forms when it’s so cold that the water molecules in fog freeze. They blow in the wind and accumulate on the windward side of plants and vegetation. And it looks SUPER cool…
It made the entire area look amazing, especially where there was a lot of it.
We eventually meandered our way to the top of the third and tallest bald, Grassy Ridge Bald. The final trek is the most strenuous section, rising about 400 feet from the gap after Jane Bald to the Summit of Grassy Ridge. This third and final summit is 6,189 feet tall, landing it on our SB6K Challenge list. This is our 5th peak on the list so far, after Black Balsam, Tennent Mountain, Watterrock Knob and Yellow Face.
We hung out at the top for a while after completing our climb. We gave the pups some water, chatted with a fellow hiker, and took in the sights. He was even nice enough to get some group pictures of our little crew.
We were having so much fun exploring the balds and watching the dogs running around, so obviously in their element, that we didn’t even realize how long we were up there. We were hiking back down the trail on our way back to the cars when we realized we had been hanging out in the cold for over 4 hours.
But I mean, can you blame us with views like these?
After standing still for a bit too long, we started to feel the cold and decided to make the trek back down. The dogs were still full of energy and ran and played most of the way down. Except when I asked Boomer to (grudgingly) stop for this picture… lol.
Only the second day of 2018 and we had already been on one heck of an adventure. What a great way to start the new year. Hope everyone else’s year started off half as awesome as ours did!
Keep an eye out for more adventure recaps to come. We just got back from another one last night!
Thanks for reading,