Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Surry County: Pilot Mountain State Park

While on our weekend getaway in Winston-Salem in mid-July, George and I spent Saturday afternoon at Pilot Mountain State Park in Surry County, North Carolina. As we drove up Highway 52, we could see Pilot Mountain (left) ahead of us!

Surry County has been around since 1771, as was named for the county of Surrey in England.

I saw this welcome sign on 52 and asked George to pull over; it's one of the prettiest county signs I've seen.

When we got to Pilot Mountain State Park, we stopped at the park office first, and George checked out the info sign. We'd stopped at a Subway in Rural Hall (on the way) and wanted to know where the picnic tables were.

We enjoyed a leisurely lunch, and decided to start hiking. The first path we took had a number of scenic overlooks, like the picture here.

At another overlook, someone offered to take a picture of the two of us, and this turned out to be one of my favorite pictures of the weekend!

Another pretty shot.

After taking a number of pictures, George and I continued hiking, and found a trail marked "moderate" on a neaby sign, so we decided to take the .8 mile loop. On THAT trail, we came upon another trail, a 2-mile loop marked strenuous! Uh oh! George was DYING to take that trail. I, however, had run 10 miles on the hotel treadmill that morning to keep pace with my training schedule. We'd already walked a bit, and my legs were getting tired. We went back and forth about it for a few minutes, then I gave in and followed him down the path. It was a pretty walk, but turned out to be even more strenuous (and longer) than even George had anticipated. We did run into a fair number of people on this trail, though, most of them rock climbers at several points along the way. (Does that tell you something about the steepness?!)

We started asking people along the way how much farther we had to go until we hit the end of the trail. The stock answer was, "Oh, about half a mile that way!" We even passed a sign that said 1/2 mile, with an arrow pointing in the direction we were traveling. Finally, we saw some hikers who offered us water, and I graciously accepted!

Along the way, we saw the yellow trail marker painted on a rock, with a face penned on it with the tongue hanging out. It was very appropriate, so here's a picture of George underneath it. If you click on the picture to enlargen it, you can see the yellow face better. :)

Surry County is also home to Mt. Airy, but George and I didn't have the time to go visit. Mount Airy is most famous, I think, for its "Mayberry" connection on "The Andy Griffith Show." In fact, the 18th annual Mayberry Days will be held in Mt. Airy the last weekend in September! If you've seen the show, you may remember the references to "Mount Pilot" (out own Pilot Mountain, of course) and Raleigh (the state capital, for real).

Although Mt. Airy is probably the most well-known city in the county, Dobson is Surry County's county seat. I've also had the pleasure of visiting White Plains, near Mount Airy, back in the 1990's, soon after I started working on my family tree. One of the names in my family tree is Yates, and as it turns out, two Yates sisters-Sarah Ann and Adelaide (2nd cousins 5 times removed to me) married Eng and Chang Bunker. The Yates sisters were from neighboring Wilkes County, where several of my family branches are from, the the Bunkers moved to nearby White Plains after initially settling in Wilkesboro (in Wilkes County).

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