On the drive home from Thanksgiving, Erin and I decided to stretch our legs with a short hike in Crowders Mountain State Park in North Carolina. We’d heard from a friend that it was easy to access, not too difficult, and the views were nice.
Upon arriving, we grabbed a trail map at the visitor center, and were on our way. The 2-mile hike up was pretty straightforward; we followed the well-marked trail and the incline wasn’t too steep.
It was a beautiful day outside, so we were glad to be out in the woods, but for most of the way up I kept thinking how disappointing the view was. With most of the trail on one side of the mountain, and the view mostly blocked by trees (can’t live with ‘em, can’t live without ‘em, am I right?), there wasn’t much to look at (besides all those trees).
Then came the final 100 yards of the hike, and everything changed.
First, the smooth ground turned rocky, making the going a little tougher. Second, in a surprise twist, actual rock climbing was required. Now, no actual rock climbing equipment or experience is necessary, but to reach King’s Pinnacle (and why bother if you don’t plan to), you do have to scale a handful of small boulders. And once you clear that final hurdle, you notice the third big change – wind. In an instant, the weather went from warm and sunny, to cold and windy. I suppose it was still sunny, and the temperature probably didn’t actually drop, but the wind was enough to force me to put my jacket back on.
But once you feel the wind, you know you’ve made it. I looked up, and actually said out loud, “Whoa!” which was followed by, “I did not expect that.”
It turns out that we climbed the gradually ascending side of Crowders Mountain, while the other side is a vertical cliff, providing great views of the landscape below. I’ve been told that on a clear day, you can see all the way to Charlotte, but we weren’t able to this time. But no matter – check out the views we had!
Where have you been hiking and the view surprised you?