Operators: Slater K4QWZ & Erik WX4ET
WX: Mostly sunny, very windy, temps in 40s
Access/Difficulty: Intermediate 4-mile round-trip hike
Path: AT from Carver’s Gap , then Grassy Ridge trail to summit
Hazards: Ice, high winds, muddy trail
Erik and I arrived at Carver’s Gap around 11:30 am. We began our hike by traveling northbound on the AT. The trail immediately ascends 300 feet to the summit of Round Bald. It then descends, levels out as it passes through Engine Gap, then ascends Jane Bald. It then descends again to yet another gap. Here, the AT continues to the left and the trail leading to Grassy Ridge Bald takes off to the right.
The AT on the Grassy Ridge Bald side of Carver’s Gap is vastly different from the trail on the Roan High Knob side. While Roan HN is covered with trees with virtually no panorama at all, nearly the entire trail to Grassy Ridge is “bald” of trees and tall vegetation. The views are spectacular. One hiker told us many AT hikers consider Grassy Ridge to be the most beautiful spot along the entire AT.
It’s popularity was very apparent during our expedition, as dozens of day hikers shared the trail with us. There was a considerable amount of good-looking women traversing the trail as well.
The trail was partially covered with ice, especially on Round Bald as the trail passes through a small patch of trees. The rest of the way, the trail was quite muddy and we were forced to go off the trail on multiple occasions. On our final ascent, we came upon a random patch of snow about 7 inches deep.
Eventually, we arrived at the summit around 2:00 pm. Because of the brutal wind, we decided not to use our tripods. Instead, we just held our antennas while making contacts, with the other person logging contacts. We made a S2S with Craig AC4M on W4V/GC-001 High Knob and Pat KI4SVM on W4C/WM-039 Cowee Bald. After nearly a hour of making contacts, taking photos, chatting with curious onlookers, and fighting the wind, we began our descent around 3:00 pm.
We arrived back at Carver’s Gap a little before 5 pm. We quickly took a break before continuing along the AT to our next summit, Roan High Knob. Our activation of Roan HN was a much more dangerous and adventurous journey than our activation of Grassy Ridge.
Grassy Ridge Bald is now my favorite summit and I plan on doing it again this spring or summer, even though I won’t get the points.