Capturing the attention and imagination of an 11 year old is not an easy task. Keeping it for any length of time is nearly impossible. These were my goals on a beautiful Tuesday afternoon in March. In a winter that has been defined by the prolonged brutal arctic cold blasts, an afternoon that is sunny and 75, must be taken advantage of. This meant that young Emma would NOT be spending this afternoon watching TV, playing games on the IPAD, or listening to One Direction. I remember her saying…”Do we have to go hiking”? Well, yes I said. Her mother wanted me to get her out and stretch her legs a bit. This was just what I intended to do. I disguised it a bit by bribing her with dinner at the local Dairi-O, a hot dog and ice cream joint that kids here go nuts for. I threw in the prospect for finding a geocache or two and she was game.
It is a beautiful second weekend in November. Temps are soaring into the 70’s. it is a great time to do some hiking along the trails at Pilot Mountain. There is a problem though, it is closed. The mountain is on fire!! Yes, the great Pilot Mountain, that stands alone in the northwest piedmont, with it’s distinctive Big Pinnacle, is covered in smoke and flames for a third straight day. As of Saturday evening, 700 acres have been charred.
This all began from a prescribe burn that went badly wrong. It was supposed to begin and end on Thursday 11/8, yet the fire jumped the lines and has now burned free for 2 days. Officials claim to have it contained and no homes are at risk. 1000 acres are estimated to be burned by the end. When all of this is said and done, what will this mountain look like? Is prescribed burning a good idea? If they do it to prevent wildfires, but end up causing one instead, I would say not!!
Below are some photos of the Pilot Mountain Fire from today 11/10/12. Also is a photo from this summer showing Pilot Mountain before the fire.
Staring up the impressive rock cliffs that make up the widely seen Pinnacle or Knob on Pilot Mountain
Well, it is that time of year again at the workplace, where our annual “Live Healthy” campaign begins. This is a program that is sponsored by the company and administered by the HR depts in each location. It is now that the usual morning exercises, fruits and vegetables for snacks, and group offers for local gyms take over. There is usually a weight loss contest which always attracts a select group that thins out as the weeks go by. Each year, usually the same thing in a slightly different presentation, hohum hohum!!
Two years ago, I, being the total anti-gym person that I am (I refuse to pay monthly dues for something I am just not going to use), decided that I was going to not only win the weight loss contest, but be creative and do it in a way that did not include any visits to the gym. Co-workers laughed at me, and said it could not be done. Oh, what motivation that was!!
With a love for the outdoors, moutains and waterfalls in particular, I decided to go hiking. I knew that I had unlimited resources at hand based on where I live. I just had to learn about them and use them to my benefit. Short story is not only did I win the weight loss contest (Yay!!!), I also discovered many great places to hike, met some really cool and interesting people, found a hobby that combined with photography that I truly love (which this year expanded to blogging), and most importantly have been able and successful at inspiring others to try and enjoy this. That last part is a great feeling.
This year, from the get go, I am an integral part of the “Live Healthy” campaign. The weight loss contest has begun, thanks to girl scout cookie season and a terrible love of ice cream, I have put on the pounds over the winter to give me a fighting chance to win this again. I am up against some stiffer competition this year, so I am going to have to be dedicated. With this in mind, we have several hikes planned, some on weekday afternoons and some longer weekend hikes in the planning stages. I have yet to see any gym sign up deal offers this spring. That, to me is having an impact. I could not be happier.
Pilot Mountain Close Up, As Seen From The Little Pinnacle Overlook
Our first hike of the this year’s contest, was an afternoon hike at Pilot Mountain State Park. At about 20 miles away, it is the closest offering for a group in need of some challenge, miles and beautiful scenery. I had a 3 mile track in mind that was nice and short for the first hike, and challenging enough to break a sweat!
Attendance was a problem, with 30 people signing up for the weight loss contest, about 15 confirming to attend the hike, only 4 showed up to actually do the hike, well 5 if you include a spouse from another location of the company. Thank goodness that it is my belief that you only need 1 person, yourself for a great hike. Hopefully the weeks ahead will include more participation, and people will show a greater desire to improve their health. Weather may have been a deterrent, as there were multiple storms in the area, but our hike went on smoothly without a drop. That is not to say that we did not get a storm, because we got a doozy!! When everyone first arrived, a huge storm was right over us, including hail ( for the 5th time on my counts this season). Luckily it was one of those quickies and was gone in ten minutes, and sunshine was abound!
Above is a shot of the 4 extremely driven individuals that showed up! Notice me to the right, being the only one here with any real weight to lose. The others that have some real opportunities had better things to do I guess. I like my chances…lol
Here is a good shot of the ladies that were afraid to get there shoes wet and how they managed to work around the newly created “lake”. We did just have a storm! The men just walked right through!!
In addition to getting a great work-out on the trail, we did take the time to clown around and have some fun! It is great thing spending time outside of work with your co-workers. You see sides of people that you just don’t see at the workplace!!
Here is a shot of Brendie, our marathon runner. She has hiked Yosemite numerous times. By her gestures, she seems to be thinking “You Call This Little Thing a Mountain…HAH”. I love Pilot Mountain but it is no “El Capitan”
The day was not without some wildlife. While there were no deer to be found, this snake, that appears to have just eaten, comes out to say hello to us!!
In closing, this was an excellent hike. We were worried about the weather and getting caught in a storm on the trail, but it did not happen. The 3.1 mile hike that included all of the overlooks on the top, then hikes along the 0.8 mile Jomeokee Trail and the 2.2 Ledge Springs Trail, was particularly challenging along the Ledge Springs Trail. It begins going down hill along the long rock wall that is home to many rock climbers. It has many of rocks to navigate , hopefully without twisting an ankle. There comes a point where the down hill ends and the trail switches back and goes up, which is particularly tiring after the navigation of the rocks going down. We got back to the cars and left the park just in time as more storms moved in!!!
Katie, Brendie, and 2 guys named Chris!! The four leading the charge to get our warehouse back into shape!!
“Jomeokee”, or “The Great Guide” as it was once known to native Americans, Pilot Mountain sits alone in Northwestern NC. A metamorphic quartzite monadnock that stands at 2421 feet above level. It is a the shining star of the ancient Sauratown Mountain Range. The other remnants of this once great chain sit just to the east and are made available by the popular Hanging Rock State Park.
Snow!! This day was all about snow. February 19 was our first measurable snow this season which is rare. It wasn’t much mind you, but it was enough to get us all excited. I was able to drive to the top of Pilot Mountain the same day of the snow, so obviously it was minimal, maybe 2 inches on top.
Pilot Mountain State Park, sits just minutes outside of Winston-Salem, and is a wonderful breath of fresh air when time does not allow a longer trip to the bigger mountains just to the west. The park road takes you to the top, not the Pinnacle itself as this is unaccessible. Once there, you will find numerous picnic spots, well designed overlooks at the piedmont valley below and on the “Little Pinnacle”, you will find the grandest view of the Pilot Mountain “Knob”. There are also some very good hiking trails here that I love to explore in warmer weather, today they had yellow tape, saying “Do Not Enter”. I guess they care about us….
The above shot is taken on the Little Pinnacle with the piedmont valley floor below. Its was a beautiful day up here, crisp and chilly, with blue sky abundant. After a few shots though, it was time to get back to the real world. I will be hiking Pilot Mountain from the bottom up soon, and will report back on that later.
Usually there is an accessible trail up to and around this large Pinnacle, but it was closed today, that is a shame, this is what I came to see.