In the fall of 1972, I was in graduate school at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. A Scottish climbing buddy and his wife invited me to spend Thanksgiving on a road trip with them. They were headed to one of the many Table Rock State Parks in the south; this one is in South Carolina, near Greenville. I'd never heard of it, and I haven't the vaguest idea how they found out about it.
My memory is pretty vague on some of these details, as I'm writing this 44 years later and I can't find my diary. As I recall, we arrived late, it was cold, and the weather wasn't particularly good. The park didn't have many visitors; we had it mostly to ourselves.
I think we hiked around in the park on Thanksgiving day. I remember it being a normal fall day, in normal southern woods.
Chris and Eve, my friends, had brought the fixin's for a real Thanksgiving meal; I think it may have been their first one in the United States, but I'm not sure. In any case, we had a proper turkey roaster, a proper turkey, wine and everything else we needed for a real celebration. We spent much of the day just being lazy and preparing our feast.
|Cooking||Chris Checking in on the Turkey|
|Wine||Chris Carving the Turkey|
There were some feral cats around that acted pretty hungry, and Eve took pity on them. A red fox showed up as well, probably a regular looking for scraps.
We took a few short hikes which I don't remember much about; I don't think we hiked to the top of Table Rock; my memory is that we didn't know there was a trail to the top until we were leaving. There were some pretty creeks and waterfalls.
What I do remember is that somewhere in there the weather cleared and we got a view of of the steep rock faces of Table Rock. As I recall it was on our way out of the park to head home.
|The Normal View of Table Rock|
As we drove off the road curved, we rounded a bend and we got a view of the "back side" of the mountain. We were flabberghasted. A sheer granite cliff rose for 700 or so feet, with a prow that looked like a mini El Capitan. We had no idea there was that kind of rock anywhere in the southern United States. There was a huge dihedral going right up the NE corner.
|Table Rock, "the back side"|
We immediately said we had to come back and climb it.
|Another Rock or another View of Table Rock?|
I couldn't get that image out of my mind. All through the winter, we talked about going back. The next spring, I did, with my friend Steve Piccolo.