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Appalachian Trail Backpacking Workshop & Trip

The Roan Highlands in Tennessee and North Carolina

June 5 - 9, 2024




Appalachian Trail Backpacking Workshop & Trip
June 5 - 9, 2024
The Roan Highlands in Tennessee and North Carolina
Limit 8 participants

Registration Fee: $475.00/person. Paid online.

Registration Fee: $460.00/person. Paid by mailed check.

WORKSHOP FULL. Join the waiting list.



Want to be added the waiting list?

Send us an email with your first name, last name, phone number and trip name to andy@outdooradventureconnection.com and we will add you to the waiting list. We can and do cancellations.




Description: Increase your level of backpacking expertise and whet your appetite for a long- distance hike on this 4 day, 3 night Appalachian Trail backpacking adventure. This hike includes spectacular, wide open panoramic views of the Roan Highlands, a stay at the highest shelter on the Appalachian Trail and educational workshops. Roan Mountain is famous for its spectacular natural gardens of Catawba rhododendrons.

This is a great hike for intermediate backpackers wishing to increase their distance as well as number of days in the backcountry. This trip is designed for those who wish to go backpacking on the trail with experienced guides and those who wish to learn more about Appalachian Trail hiking. The night before our trip will be spent at Mountain Harbour Hostel and B&B in Roan Mountain, Tennessee,an Appalachian Trail hiker's favorite.

Prerequisite: Our Backpacking Workshop and Overnight Trip or equivalent. Participants must be in good physical condition and able to handle strenuous activity for a sustained period of time. Please check with your doctor if unsure.



The Roan Highlands are one of the most beautiful places on the southern Appalachian Trail. Roan Mountain is a true gem of the southern Appalachian Mountains. Whether hiking the grassy balds or strolling through gardens of tree-sized catawba rhododendrons, this place has a special feeling. The air is thin here, and the climate feels like Canada. The wind-swept forest of spruce and fir lives like an island floating above the mixed hardwood forest below. While the highest parts of the mountain have a dark, mossy forest, much of the highlands are lacking trees. The Appalachian balds of the Roan Highlands are meadows in the sky. Roan Mountain is the highest point in the area, peaking out at around 6,300 feet. The Tennessee-North Carolina state line runs across Roan Mountain.



Probably the most beautiful place I have ever been is a stretch of the Appalachian Trail along the border of North Carolina and Tennessee near Roan Mountain and some of the highest peaks in the eastern United States. This section of the trail from Roan to Jane Bald and Grassy Ridge winds along the ridges at an altitude from 5000 feet to over 6000 feet through mostly open meadow. From the parking lot at Carver's Gap, the trail ascends approximately 1000 feet via log steps to the summit of Round Bald, elevation 5826 feet. Although it doesn't look very steep from the parking area, half way up the incline it becomes very clear that one is gaining significant altitude. There is no need to rush the climb, though, because the slope is adorned with beautiful rhododendrons and azaleas, and the views of Roan High Bluff and the surrounding mountains are spectacular. Scattered throughout the grassy meadow are beautiful specimens of the purple rhododendrons (R. catawbiense), a few flame azaleas (R. calendulaceum), occasional blooms of the rare Gray's Lily (Lilium grayi), many other wild flowers. (Don Hyatt) Read More

IMPORTANT - READ THIS! The weather on Roan Mountain is highly changeable. Severe weather can be encountered on any day of the year. Cold temperatures, thunderstorms, hail, lightning, high winds, fog, and low visibility can occur in June. Hiking in the Roan Mountains is challenging. Our route includes long, prolonged climbs that are steep at times. The Appalachian Trail, which ascends and descends the summits of the Roan Highlands, often goes straight up and down the mountain without switchbacks. This hike should be considered strenuous, as the trails can be rugged, rocky, and muddy. This, combined with ever-changing weather conditions, makes this a challenging hike that should only be attempted by people in good physical condition. In the event of inclement weather, the guides reserve the right to change or modify any hike, including switching to an alternate location on the Appalachian Trail.Your pack weight must not exceed 30 pounds.



Details: We’ll hike ~21 miles over four days. This trip is designed to be both a learning experience and a backpacking adventure on the Appalachian Trail. Workshops will cover various Appalachian Trail topics. The goal of this trip is to help each participant become more confident in his/her own backpacking ability while enjoying the scenic beauty of the Roan Highlands. This pace of this hike is moderate with ample time allowed for rest breaks and dealing with changing weather conditions.

Wednesday: Plan to arrive no later than 3:00 pm in Roan Mountain, Tennessee. We’ll spend Wednesday night in the Mountain Harbour Hostel and B&B. Car pooling available. We will enjoy wood fired brick oven pizza at Smoky Mountain Bakery for supper. Mountain Harbour Hostel Web Site ~ Map Link To Mountain Harbour Hostel

Thursday: We’ll begin our day with a buffet-style breakfast at the Mountain Harbour Hostel; then catch a shuttle and start our hike at Hugh's Gap, hiking ~5 miles on the Appalachian Trail. This part of the hike is mostly uphill and sometimes steep. At the summit of Roan Mountain, we’ll camp near the Roan High Knob Shelter in tents.

Friday: We’ll backpack ~7 miles on the Appalachian Trail through the spectacular Roan Highlands, including Jane Bald, Round Bald and Grassy Ridge. Accommodations for the night will be camping near Overmountain Area, one of the most scenic campsites on the entire AT.

Saturday: We’ll backpack ~6 miles on the Appalachian Trail through spectacular Roan Highland country including Little Hump Mountain and Hump Mountain, setting up camp at Doll Flats campsite.

Sunday: Our morning begins with a 6:00 am wake up call so we can get an early start. We’ll backpack 3.5 miles back to Mountain Harbour Hostel. Showers available for $5 at the hostel after the hike. The event should conculde around 10:00 am.



During this trip we will conduct informal Appalachian Trail educational workshops.

Workshops:

  • Lighten Your Load. How to make your backpack lighter.
  • Leave No Trace along the Appalachian Trail.
  • Reading and understanding Appalachian Trail maps, guidebooks and data books.
  • Appalachian Trail shelter usage, rules and etiquette.
  • Campsite selection on the Appalachian Trail.
  • Selecting water sources along the Appalachian Trail.
  • Water treatment options: pump filters, squeeze filters, chemicals or what?
  • Appalachian Trail lingo, slang and trail names.

Required Equipment:

  • Backpack and backpack rain cover
  • Pair of trekking poles.
  • Tent (1 person tent if solo or 2-3 person tent if shared with a friend)
  • Sleeping Bag & Pad
  • Headlamp or Flashlight
  • Lightweight camp shoes
  • Warm Clothes (warm hat, gloves, long underwear, down jacket or equivalent, 2-3 pairs of wool socks)
  • Stove and fuel (if cooking hot meals)
  • Water treatment (filter or chemical)
  • Rain Gear
  • Bandanna, whistle, drinking cup.
  • Food: 3 Breakfasts, 3 Lunches, 3 Dinners plus snacks.
  • Personal medications: Aspirin, Ibuprofen, Antacids, Pepto-Bismol, Prescriptions (as needed).

Important Note: Your backpack weight must not exceed 30 pounds.

Optional:


Your Guides:



Andy "Captain Blue" Niekamp. Andy Niekamp is the Chief Adventure Officer for Outdoor Adventure Connection, which specializes in backcountry adventures. Andy has backpacked over 20,000 miles including five end to end hikes of the Appalachian Trail and thru hikes of the Buckeye Trail, Ohio To Erie Trail, Florida Trail, Arizona Trail, Camino de Santiago, Sheltowee Trace, Long Trail, Ozark Highlands Trail, Colorado Trail, Superior Hiking Trail, John Muir Trail and the Bartram Trail. Andy is founder and leader of the Dayton Hikers group, the largest outdoor recreation group in Dayton, Ohio, and a Leave No Trace Master Educator. Andy Niekamp grew up and lives in Dayton and has a passion for long distance hiking which he shares with others. Andy brings his wealth of backpacking experience and his passion for hiking to this program. He has two rules for his backpacking trips. Number 1: Be safe. Number 2: Have fun!



Teri "Thong" Hupp. Teri started backpacking in 2017 with Outdoor Adventure Connection's one-night backpacking workshop and overnight trip at Carter Caves State Park and the Appalachian Trail backpacking workshop in the Roan Highlands of Tennessee and North Carolina. Every year since, she has completed a few backpacking trips. Her favorite backpack trip was hiking the length of Isle Royale National Park in Lake Superior. In addition to backpacking several sections of the Appalachian Trail, Teri has completed sections of the Sheltowee Trace in Tennessee, the Pinhoti Trail in Georgia, the Arizona Trail in Saguaro National Park, and the Zaleski Backpack Trail in Ohio. She's summitted Mount Rainer in Washington. Teri is married and has two grown daughters. She works in the supply chain business.


Here Is What They Say This About Appalachian Trail Workshop:


It was a great trip! Our section of trail in the Roan highlands provided great diversity and a nice sample of what life is like on the Appalachian trail.Charley S.

Great introductory opportunity and enjoyed every aspect. Learned a lot valuable information that I will apply to future trips.Pam H.

The entire experience could not have been better. I will cherish the memory of our laughs and the breathtaking views for years to come.Matt P.

Andy shared his knowledge and led in a very polite and professional way throughout the trip. He went above and beyond to see all participants were safe, learning and enjoying the trip. The materials provided were extremely useful. Am not certain anything should be changed however I would like to be able to attend again, perhaps enjoying a longer hike.Diana B.

I thoroughly enjoyed this trip! The workshops were extremely helpful when considering planning a trip on my own. I loved having only women on the trip. Nothing against men but a trip with only women has a completely different energy and it was wonderful.Terry C.

This trip is a hiker's dream. I learned how to navigate the AT while enjoying the company of others and the expert guidance of Andy Niekamp.Rita S.

I am so appreciative of the gentle manner in which Andy guides, coaches, encourages you to learn and grow. He sets you up so you feel confident to tackle a backpacking trip on your own. Traci B.

I thought it was helpful that Andy gave hikers individual guidance and checked in often to see how they were doing. I cannot think of anything that could have been done better.Ray N.

Andy was a great guide. he gave us direction, but let us actually do it. Overall, it was a fantastic trip! I learned a lot and feel more confident in my abilities. I'm ready for the next adventure! Marybeth K.

The trip felt like something out of a dream, seeing such sights. And just being on the AT itself, after spending so long reading about it. The trip gave me great confidence in my backpacking abilities, and made me feel sure I can thru-hike the AT when I'm ready. I can't wait to go back again in the future.Alyssa R.




Operated on the Pisgah National Forest under a special use permit. Non-Discrimination Statement.



What Is Included? Your registration fee includes professional guides, all workshops, course material, Wednesday pizza dinner, Wednesday night stay at Mountain Harbour Hostel, Thursday morning breakfast, shuttle and parking fees. Each participant will receive copies of the Appalachian Trail map, and handbook for the section we are hiking.

What Is Not Included? Gear. Meals and snacks excepted where noted above. Transportation to and from the A.T. Optional guide gratuity.

READ THIS BEFORE REGISTERING:

Cancellation & Refund Policy: Your registration fee includes a non-refundable deposit of 20% of the amount received. Your registration fee, minus the 20% non-refundable deposit, minus any online payment transaction fees, is refundable if you cancel 35 days in advance. Your entire registration fee is refundable if this event is canceled or rescheduled except online payment transaction fees which are not refundable under any circumstances.

Participants must complete an Application / Medical Form and sign a liability waiver.

Minimum age is 18. No pets are permitted. All of our events are non-smoking.





It was all excellent. I would not have changed a thing. It was as described when I signed up. The guides were so helpful, informative, answered all questions and were only encouraging in all our efforts. I give them an A+Kelly E.