North Carolina And Table Rock

I got to the train station in Georgia at 7:30pm, Tuesday the 5th. I arrived in Burlington, North Carolina at 10:00am, Wednesday the 6th. It was a looong train ride. I saw TK17/Duncan waiting for me as the train pulled up, I recognized him from his Pilgrimage video. We all got introduced, and then headed to IHOP for breakfast (my first meal in almost 15 hours). Most of Wednesday was spent resting, and I led a small training session at UNC – Chapel Hill that evening showcasing some of the different training methods I’d learned on my trip. The real adventure of North Carolina happened Thursday, though.

We left around 9am from Duncan’s house in three cars. The plan was to rendezvous with two other people, and then go hiking all day at Table Rock, a huge series of mountains and rocks, with a valley containing the “North Carolina Wall.” The trip started off well enough, and then we hit a bump.

Two of the cars were already full, the third car had enough room for the two extra passengers we were picking up. The third car also happened to develop a transmission problem that prevented it from shifting out of second gear. This pretty much makes it an adventure to get out of your neighborhood. We parked it at a Dairy Cream off of the highway, and reconsolidated passengers, then headed to pick up the two extra people.

They were waiting in a parking lot of a strip mall, and as we pulled up we realized a new problem. Since the car broke down, we now had 9 seats and 11 people. I spent the next 3 hours of our journey to Table Rock in the trunk of a Honda Element.

Only one person knows how to get there, and he’s in the other car. After about two and a half hours, we start to question whether or not this place exists, because we see no tables, rocks, or mountains that look like either. We finally start seeing signs of the mountain, and we begin our ascent. For a while, the paved road was steep and winding as we head up the mountain, but then it turned into more of a dust road than a dirt one. Driving up and down this winding dirt road created a massive dust cloud behind us, obscuring vision. Again, after about a half an hour we started to question if we were actually headed anywhere in particular, or just out for a nice drive.

Finally, we arrived at a parking lot, and saw a sign for “Table Rock Trail.” We made it to the trail! We piled out of the car, which was completely covered in dust at this point, and started out our hike. Several people decided to do it barefoot, so I join them, kicking off my shoes, tying the laces together and slinging them over my shoulder. We reached several photo-op spots, using a bit of creative climbing and Parkour to get on top of boulders. Almost every time it seemed like we had reached the top of the mountain and everything else was descending, but every time we kept going further and every time the view got more and more spectacular.

At one point, our first real view of the valley, there was a rock-peninsula about 100 feet ahead and parallel to of us. Duncan and two other traceurs climbed down the rock face we were resting on, traversed their way through the brush and thorns, and then climbed out to it. It must have been a fantastic view, with nothing obstructing their vision. We continued the climb, and after getting distracted probably fifteen times by interesting Parkour spots or climbing walls, we eventually made it to the end. This was definitely the best view of the entire hike. We were out on a corner of a cliff with the entire valley stretched to our right, and another set of mountains reaching up to our left. We stayed there for probably twenty minutes, just taking in the sights. From valleys to falcons, it was nature at its finest.

It was also dinner time. We’d been out hiking for close to four hours, with a four hour drive before that. We were famished! So before starting the trek down the mountain, we broke open a cooler in the trunk of the other car and got to work on our picnic! It was a great picnic, with turkey, ham, assorted fruits and vegetables, bread and some cookies for desert. After eating, we piled back into the cars, I got back into my trunk, and we were comin’ back down the mountain. I almost immediately curled up in the trunk of the Honda Element and passed out. (and let me tell you, waking up in the trunk of a Honda Element is probably one of the strangest things you’ll ever experience).

A quick stop at Dairy Queen to pick up the car (and for ice cream), and we headed back to Duncan’s house to pass out. I left the next morning for home, and I definitely think that the hike was a fantastic way to end my summer adventure.

Written on January 6, 2008