Climb to the Clouds at Occoneechee Mountain

by Mark Miles

Hiking is always a good way for me to relax after a stressful week. Not long ago I was tempted to skip my monthly rendezvous with Occoneechee Mountain because of a hectic schedule, but I stuck to my routine and was glad I did. The landscape was barren of foliage for the most part, but the increase in visibility gave a real sense of scope that’s often lacking from the experience in summer and spring.

As usual there was a small crowd when I arrived but nothing unmanageable. I got out of my car and started down the main trail over a few hills on my way to the first fork in the path. Before I reached it, I was greeted by a pleasant southwestern exposure of the sun peeping gently through the branches.

A little further along, I reached Elephant Rock–which is not the official name but describes the formation well nonetheless–and decided that the lighting was too good to miss. I’m not generally one to take selfies on my hikes, but I couldn’t resist in this instance.

After passing by a stretch of the Eno that borders the trail for a quarter of a mile, I came to the ascent that leads to the Overlook. There are a number of stairs in this area that were put in place by an eagle scout some years ago for his community service, and they’re a welcome addition at this point.

On the way up the side of the mountain, the trail passes directly beneath a very large metallic powerline that bisects the land near the quarry. It’s an ugly sight, but I did manage to find a view of it that was at least symmetrical. Standing beneath it and staring directly upwards, I couldn’t escape the feeling that I was caught in an oversized game of tic-tac-toe.

Huffing and puffing from the steep climb that leads to the highest point on the trail, I reached the Overlook itself. The view was incredible as always, though there wasn’t the same panoply of color that I would’ve found in late October. Still it was a refreshing end to a much-needed excursion that helps to keep me grounded in my daily life. And the best part about it is that anyone with a little time, initiative and wilderness can do the same.


19 thoughts on “Climb to the Clouds at Occoneechee Mountain

  1. Keng January 14, 2017 / 5:07 am

    I’m OK with more selfies though. 😄

  2. junglequeen January 14, 2017 / 6:11 am

    Hiking used to be my passion when I worked in Government, and I hope to get back to it. Wilderness soothes the soul like nothing else!

    • Mark Miles January 16, 2017 / 6:14 am

      Totally agree. There’s little that gives more peace and contentment in my experience.

  3. Jo January 14, 2017 / 3:07 pm

    Looks like a great place to hike through. I love finding new places to go walking with my dogs. Still without a driving license though, I have to rely on a family member or friend coming with me and the pups too! I’m lucky that round here (northwest) the trains will get me to some great outdoor places.

  4. usathroughoureyes January 14, 2017 / 5:06 pm

    It was great strolling down the path with you through your pictures and words.

    • Mark Miles January 16, 2017 / 6:14 am

      Thank you, my friend. Always appreciate your kind words.

  5. The Laughing Duck January 14, 2017 / 8:27 pm

    Last photo is stunning. The grey forestry almost looks like a morning fog cut through by a trail of snow / river (?) Down the middle (:

  6. thistleamy5 January 15, 2017 / 2:47 pm

    Mark – that was a really nice post. I love how you made an interesting photo out of something we all typically think of as a blight on the land – huge power line poles. Great job.

    • Mark Miles January 16, 2017 / 6:19 am

      Thank you. For the record I hate power-lines and would be happier if they didn’t exist, but I can’t resist the occasional perceptual anomaly. Thank you again.

  7. Nina January 19, 2017 / 5:36 am

    Nice post. Feels as if we’re with you during the hiking. Good job on the pictures! 😊

    • Mark Miles January 23, 2017 / 3:30 am

      Thank you so much. Really appreciate that.

  8. Nina January 19, 2017 / 6:25 pm

    Hi Mark,

    I’m not sure if you’re accepting awards for your blog, but I’ve nominated your blog for the “One Lovely Blog” Award. It’s great if you would participate, but it’s also okay if you chose not to. Just know that I find your blog lovely and it deserves the recognition. 🙂

    – Nina 🙂

  9. Kelley Mether January 24, 2017 / 5:43 am

    The story and the photos were great, in this, especially the upward looking one, through the power line. I also liked your post about the crows, and suicide. Fortunately where I live, there are so many crows that if i believed they were the harbinger of death, the busiest place in town would be the cemetary!

  10. aindricrow January 25, 2017 / 5:39 am

    Your right about hiking being one of the best stress relievers. I find if I go to long in between hikes I can start to feel the stress build up. I like your perspective of the hike and simply you described. Great pictures too! 🙂

    • Mark Miles January 30, 2017 / 6:10 am

      Thank you very much. Hiking is one of my passions in life.

  11. scrambler27 February 7, 2017 / 6:06 am

    love the powerline shot. Nice post.

  12. Archimedes the Cat February 11, 2017 / 11:43 pm

    I love your photographs. I love hiking, too,(except when it’s cold).

  13. irinesplace February 14, 2017 / 8:50 am

    It’s always good to stick to our routine. The positive things…love the pics. Looks like a really good place.

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