Pilot Mountain, Hanging Rock and OBX

Whenever possible we seek out mountains to climb, especially when we’re headed to the beach and unlikely to see upland for days!

Leaving Charlotte, the adventure trail led due north to Pilot Mountain, NC and then east to a peer monadnock* in the distance, Hanging Rock State Park. Quick climbs of both solitary hills revealed the lovely surrounding valleys and fields, including some tobacco fields still being cultivated and Winston-Salem in the distance.

Hikers hand it over the edge
Hikers hang it over the edge
Pilot knob from the ground
Pilot knob from the ground
Isn't this an amazing structure
Isn’t this an amazing structure
George moves out on the overhang
George moves out on the overhang
Bucolic view from the Knob
Bucolic view from the Knob
Why wouldn't you just love rocks!!
Why wouldn’t you just love rocks!!

These lone hills have remained standing over millions of years of erosion of limestone in the area, because they both have hard quartzite caps over the limestone, which prevent the acidic rain and river water from dissolving the limestone. Northwest North Carolina’s Piedmont area has some karst (eroded limestone bedrock with channels, rises and sinkholes), but nothing like Mammoth Caves, the coastal Carolinas or Florida. Mammoth also benefits from hard sandstone caps protecting its limestone subsurface. These isolated NC promontories are unique in the landscape in these parts.

*A monadnock is an isolated hill, ridge or erosion-resistant rising above a plain.

 

While driving due east from here to the Outer Banks, I wanted to get George some East Carolina BBQ, but lo and behold, we actually found a TURKEY BBQ spot, so I could enjoy the feasting, too! I’m allergic to pork, and turkey’s a perfect substitute. What a treat it was: Ben Jones’ BBQ Turkey in the tiny village of Everetts, NC has got it goin’ on! The whole operation is in his outdoor kitchen, which he commands with his wife Sandra. Being ex-military, he and Sandra have everything ship-shape and super-clean, so it’s really inviting. The best part, of course, is the eating, and we stocked up on 3.5 quarts of the good stuff so we could enjoy it at home, too. Was great to meet these lovely people and savor their cooking.

Given that we’re traveling around North America to see the glorious nature and hike as many miles as possible, it’s probably no surprise that we didn’t care for much of the Outer Banks. The northern entry points to the seashore plunk you right into its dense housing and entertainment development. It’s clear that capital investment into luxury vacation real estate has won the day in OBX. We had to drive down to Hatteras Island to actually see unpopulated seashore and wildlife. It’s a harsh compromise. Although early settlement life and undeveloped land can still be seen if you drive all the way down to Frisco, Hatteras and Ocracoke, we won’t be returning to OBX because of the congestion and the likelihood that development will continue to win out over nature.

Finally away from civilization
Finally away from civilization
The primal heartbeat of ocean pounding the shore
The primal heartbeat of ocean pounding the shore

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Can't get enough of the undisturbed, raw surf
Can’t get enough of the undisturbed, raw surf
Salt marsh great egrets fight with one another over territory
Salt marsh great egrets fight with one another over territory
Hatteras lighthouse
Hatteras lighthouse
Gorgeous conifer seems to tolerate salt spray well
Gorgeous conifer seems to tolerate salt spray well
Kittyhawk shore walk on the inland side of the island
Kittyhawk shore walk on the inland side of the island

Of course, if you’re going just for the seafood and fish, that’s a different story. We had rockfish, flounder, scallops, clams, and east coast shrimp, and they were spectacular. It’s always the little run-down fish markets that look like they’ve been there a thousand years that seem to have the best to offer. Marvelous.

I should note that the National Historical Monument to the Wright Brothers has been beautifully architected and situated in Kill Devil Hills. The history is faithfully rendered and you get a real feel for what they endured over their months of testing and succeeding with the first viable flying machines. Glad we took it in.

Recreated work sheds, where the brothers refined their models
Recreated work sheds, where the brothers refined their models

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Orville on the wing, steering the craft
Orville on the wing, steering the craft
Downhill from the obelisk toward the landing strip of the 1903 flights
Downhill from the obelisk toward the landing strip of the 1903 flights
Looking uphill at the memorial Wright Bros obelisk
Looking uphill at the memorial Wright Bros obelisk
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