About 3 days hike from Erwin, is a town called Roan Mountain. This was the location of our next scheduled resupply as well as the location we had designated to meet Rob's mother Kim, sister Patience and aunt Dodie. Descending down into Roan Mountain (the town below the mountain itself) we encountered some of the most extreme weather we have seen so far. The descent features about 5 miles of bald ridges and saddles that left us completely open to the elements. The rain wasn't overly intense in volume but precipitation of any kind is amplified by 60-70 mile an hour winds with gusts that nearly took us off our feet. And by "nearly", I mean actually. Every one of us fell at least once under the power of these unimpeded winds. Fellas that are a little lighter, like Twigs, who weighs in at a whopping 132 lbs had a distinctly more difficult time with the gusts.
Arriving at Mountain Harbour Hostel in Roan Mtn, we were a little discheveled but already reminiscing about the intensity of the recent conditions. Something about making it through a situation you shouldn't have been in makes people chatty. The Mountain Harbour hostel is a quant little southern farm house with an barn style outbuilding complete with a rather large river running directly through the property and free grazing horses/goats running around throughout. The main house serves as the B&B as well as the breakfast/dinner service space while the barn has been renovated to accommodate about 8 hikers with hostel style lodging. To be honest, I was pretty adamant that we stay somewhere else because one of the boys would inevitably have tried to mount and ride one of the horses. I don't believe this was the owners proverbial "first rodeo" because she immediately led the giant creatures to the back corral where they would be out of sight. If you ask me I think Twigs could have pulled off a billy goat ride but he was unconvinced that we would take responsibility if the situation went awry.
Being that the indoor lodging was full, the owners offered us the opportunity to grab any floor space, covered porch space or lawn space that we could find. The charge for tenting was $8 which came with the use of the showers in the hostel and laundry was $6 per load (2 loads covered 7 of us), making for one of the most inexpensive stays we have had thus far (39 days). Being that we had arrived at the B&B about 2 hours before Rob's family, we took the time to detonate a hiker bomb on the front porch, do a quick inventory, make shopping lists, do laundry and hit the showers. Around 3 o'clock, the silver SUV carrying our Maine visitors rolled into the gravel parking lot and grocery bags of hiker goodies began flowing from the back hatch. Kim and Dodie prepared 3 gallon-sized freezer bags full of Kim's chicken pasta salad (heavenly harp music playing). So good. They also had beer, wine, rum and tons of snacks in tow. We got spoiled. Being that it was in the mid thirties that evening, we spent as much time as we could huddled around sharing stories of the trail with Rob's family until we could no longer take the cold. The owners of the B&B were gracious enough to offer us the living room to continue our visit by the wood stove. We happily obliged.
Since somewhere in the hot springs vicinity we had heard tell of the famous breakfast spread at the Mountain Harbour, in fact it was a deciding factor in us staying there. When it came time for breakfast, we circled around the coffee pot like vultures anticipating the meal to come. In a matter of seconds, the empty countertop became full with exactly 17 dishes. It was the most extensive spread I have EVER seen. This includes any holiday dinner I have had with my family, buffet I have been to or catered event I have attended. This woman knows her breakfast. Homemade biscuits, homemade apple butter, fruit salad served on a halved pineapple, pecan sticky buns, breakfast sausage, steel cut Irish porridge, toast points with creme fresh and caviar, home fries cooked in duck fat, south western hash brown casserole, sausage egg and pepper pie, spinach and feta scramble, baguette French toast with real maple syrup, egg salad and cherry tomato brioche, and to top it all off a breakfast brownie pie with homemade chocolate whipped cream. It was $10. We agreed we would all have paid 40. I really wish I were able to figure out the picture/video uploading so I could share the food porn with you.
After breakfast we sat idly while this gastrointestinal bomb began to digest. Having made arrangements with Kim to use their vehicle to do a shot-gun style resupply at the Dollar General down the road so that they could begin their long journey back to Maine, we rallied the troops and executed our shopping routine. Goodbyes were said, leftover beers were divvied up and everyone hit the road, Jack. Next stop: Damascus, VA. THE most legendary trail town (and home to the Trail Days festival) along the way.
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