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Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Carver's Gap and Roan High Knob

Yesterday was a beautiful fall-like day with highs in the low 60s and bright blue skies.  I couldn't wait to head out with my camera.  I drove straight to Carver's Gap.  I didn't realize how much anxiety and trepidation I had returning to Carver's Gap.  I hadn't been up there since February's near disaster!  My heart was beating fast, I had sweat on my brow, and I was white knuckle gripping the steering wheel, but all was fine!

A look back down the road after conquering my anxiety.  (from my iPhone)

Looking back over the town of Roan Mountain.

I've never been to the Roan Mountain Rhododendron Gardens and decided to explore the area.  Wow.  I have hiked Round Bald and areas of Roan Mountain State Park, but I've never hiked the actual Roan Mountain.  I loved it! 

The first area I came to was the site of the once opulent Cloudland Hotel. "For more than 20 years, people of means traveled to Roan Mountain to enjoy the healthful mountain air and cool summers. The first hotel - 1 21-room, spruce log retreat - was replaced in 1885 by a grand three-story hotel. The elegant Cloudland Hotel boasted carpets, find furniture, copper bathtubs, and steam heat.  Guests enjoyed bowling, croquet, and golf on the grounds. They relaxed in rockers on the wide porches and dined on three sumptuous meals each day.  All this for $2 per day, $10 per week, or $30 per month.  In the early 1900s, Cloudland Hotel lost its luster and by 1910 it was abandoned and dismantled.  Today, nothing remains on the flat knoll once crowned by opulence."  - From the information marquee.  

View of the site where the hotel once stood.

The view from the hotel site.
And if you are an "Outlander" fan, know that this overlooks the area that encompasses Fraser's Ridge. Diana Gabaldon mentions Roan Mountain (which I am standing on) and Black Mountain (in the photo) in her descriptions of the areas surrounding Fraser's Ridge!

Views from the parking lot.

The Cloudland Trail leads from the parking lot to the rhododendron gardens and to the top of Roan Mountain and Roan High Knob.  It was a magical path, covered in moss and ferns, that made me feel like I was in a fairy forest.  And I was greeted by a large bunny!

There was a great overlook off of the path.

I can't wait to head back up the Cloudland Trail and take in these majestic views.  I also found a rhododendron loop path, but I was too tired to explore it!!  Next time.

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