21M Appalachian Trail Run -North Carolina
Winding Stair Gap to Wayah Bald (out and back)
Thursday, September 29, 2022
6000'+ of Elevation Gain


Perfect early fall day with morning temps between 36 and 43 degrees and ridgeline winds above 20 mph, making for some nippy conditions at times. The sun is already low enough that much of the run was in shadows on the west and north side of the ridges. It was good to wear an extra layer. The first four miles were a sustained, but gradual climb up to Siler Bald before dropping down to Wayah Gap. After a second sustained climb of three miles, the trail rolls gradually to reach the summit of Wayah Bald with its stone observation tower at over 5300 feet in elevation. The day was clear in all directions.

I scouted beyond the summit to find the junction with the Bartram Trail as it heads east. The two trails are contiguous for two and a half miles south before the Bartram Trail branches west again. The run was smooth and continuous with very few steep sections requiring walking. Given the mostly rocky and rooty terrain, I proceeded with discretion throughout so as not to stumble or fall. The 21 miles took less than 7 hours, so the best I could do was a bit quicker than 3 mph. Very enjoyable, without fatigue, because of the pedestrian pace. Only one bloody injury from ramming my right knee into a log I did not see between the afternoon shadows and the sunlight. The maples and hickory niut trees are in full color with the only flowers holding on being asters and goldenrod. A half dozen day hikers and perhaps a dozen backpackers satisfied my need for society. Nice to encounter kindred spirits in high places.