March 13, 2016
A rainy day is the perfect time for a walk in the woods.
Several years ago I decided to day hike on the A.T. over the Roan Mountains in extremely heavy rain and wind. The gales buffeted me as I made my way across the balds, the rain lambasting my stride.
Several miles into the hike I was surprised to see another hiker coming in the opposite direction. We smiled and waved. “It’s a wonderful day, isn’t it?!” “I was just thinking the same thing, I love hiking in this weather!” I responded. “I often imagine myself living in a distant land, or mythical time when I’m hiking in this kind of weather.”
The conversation was fleeting, but for some reason that encounter of someone who enjoyed rain as much as myself has resonated over and over.
The trailheads for Bennett Gap Trail and Perry Cove Trail are located off of F.S. 477, near Hwy. 276. As I started up Bennett, the rain came pouring down. Fog wafted up the slop towards Coontree Mountain. The route was almost completely uphill, I could barely see as the fog moved with speed down the mountain. After 1.5 miles, the rain slackened and I approached an open ridge. To the east the clouds began to part, exposing part of Looking Glass Rock. Even though the fog was still thick, the view was even more glorious than it would have been on a clear day. My mind drifted to far-off places, imagining myself as a journeyman in a distant land.
From the ridge, I descended down to Saddle Gap, and then went uphill for another mile to the end of Bennett Gap. I then doubled back down to Saddle Gap, which is also the juncture for Perry Cove Trail.
Perry Cove is a short, 1.2 mile trail, but rated as difficult. Even though I was heading downhill the entire hike, it was quite steep.
I highly recommend these two hikes, but I really suggest hiking them in the rain.
Total mileage is 6 miles.