On a hot, muggy, Northeast Tennessee Saturday morning, Pat and I loaded up the car with a few bottles of water, some soft drinks, snacks, sun block, insect repellant, a fly rod (just in case) and a camera, and drove about 45 minutes to Roan Mountain.
A twisting, but scenic drive to the top, offers spectacular views of blue-hued mountain ranges stretching far to the east, into North Carolina and Virginia.
We were about two weeks too late to catch the rhododendron blossoms that cover the top of the mountain in a blanket of pink from late May into mid-June. A few, mostly ragged, blooms remained visible in the green foliage on the tangled branches of rhododendron plants (trees) that have grown here for decades.
We left 87-degree thermometer readings in Johnson City about 11:30 in the morning. We got out of the car on Roan Mountain, to a comfortable 66-degree reading with a light breeze. We hiked through the morass of foliage, wishing we had come a few weeks earlier but enjoying the spring-like weather and the views.
Roan Mountain, right on the North Carolina State line, is known for the mass of rhododendrons on top and for the climate, which is closer to Canadian then anything in the Southeastern United States. It’s always cool on top and once featured a resort hotel, long gone. The views remain, however.
For anyone needing a break from hot, stressful farm or ranch labor, a day on Roan Mountain will be restorative.