Sunday, June 16, 2013

Mount Pilot , NC

                                                       Mount Pilot in the distance

    It was at the end of a short trail, and it seems the trails we did get to go on around Mount Pilot in North Carolina had numerous steps. I don't think the "Sassafras" (didn't see any sassafras on it) and  "Jomeokee" Trails were constructed to be handicapped accessible. The first trail had a number of big wooden block steps to get up and over, and it curved down and then back up again. It said it was a moderate trail, but not in my opinion. If you've got weak knees or are winded easily it's not too easy a trail. I don't know when these trails were made, but the park property was sold by Mrs. Pearl Beasley for $643,000 in 1968 and was made into a state park in the 1970s, long (but not too long) after The Andy Griffith Show  ended (1968). Mount Pilot is mentioned many times in that TV show but no one "ever" mentioned hiking up and down the durn mountain!
    Actually, it wasn't so much up as it was "around" the mountain we went. Mount Pilot is called a knob, with a head of greenery at the top, cliffs, and then the mountain's sheer cliff face on the sides. The cliff face was interesting as it jutted out in certain places, as though you were looking at noses or blemish bumps on a face. That may be why there was a sign along the "Jomeokee" Trail that said it was a misdemeanor for climbing on the cliff/rock face. Our friend Kent joked about this: "Guy gets put in jail -- hey, what are you in for? Climbing a rock!"
    It was surprising that it was not too far along and we were on our way to the side of Mount Pilot proper, where there was a sign admonishing us to not pick any wild plants. There wasn't the big variety of plants there I could detect, but then, in June there are not a lot of plants in bloom either. There were some straggly rhododendron trees with their leathery green leaves hanging over our trail, and a few mountain laurel shrubs, with delicate white, belllike  flowers with pink stamens showing in a few places, but just a few. We must have missed the main blooming time for these.
     I have to admit it was a pretty rock we hiked around. Am told it is a metamorphic (meaning it changed over time due to heat and pressure) quartzite, which is why it looks like it was bleached white. But on this Jomeokee Trail around it, we had sections of flat sandy path alternating with sections of stone steps, some very unique looking. The quartzite can have iron oxide in it and make it look different colors. The colors I saw were mostly a light color, beige, and even pink with shiny tiny little pieces in it, kind of pretty, but if we'd fallen on it we would have probably been  hurt!
    The ranger said that a so-called "controlled burn" got out of control, and on this trail and parts of the Sassafras Trail we saw charcoal briquette-looking trees nearby, like they were going to use them for barbecue (only they were the things being barbecued). And from up there you would see well into the distance, distant enough it looked to be patches of farmland and woods. At a little over 2,400 feet, I would say there is a lot to see below, as the park itself I don't think covers that many acres, at least from where I was looking at it. There is also a good stretch of steps going up and down as you head back around the mountain. If Andy Griffith and Opie ever went up here they really had some good views of the valley below. June is a good time for this kind of walk.

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