Grandfather Mountain Electrified

Grandfather Mountain Electrified

Every summer about mid-July, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Wilkesboro conducts its Parish Retreat at the Conference Center in Valle Crucis, Watauga County. This year on July 20, 2019, Ranger Bob and Deena Thomas went for Bob’s about 25th trip and Deena’s first trip. Happily we took along Deena’s granddaughter Mileena Ruiz, age 13 years, and her grandson, Tre Ruiz, age 9 years, from Tampa, FL.


We did the traditional porch sitting, rocking chair rocking, reading, conversing, snack eating and fellow-shipping. Friday night Ranger Bob hosted the roaring camp fire with S’mores for the kids. Of course, many parents indulged in the marshmallow roasting and sweet snack eating. Mileena and Tre helped to corral, entertain and play with the other children

Saturday afternoon Ranger Bob was scheduled to lead a strenuous adult hike on Grandfather Mountain. Due to the current heavy rain and weather report predictions of more rain, he cancelled the hike at the last minute. However, a quick survey of Deena’s clan produced a vote to go hiking in the rain. So, we did! Bob drove us four on the Blue Ridge Parkway to the Rough Ridge parking area. Despite the threatening weather, the parking lot was packed with vehicles. We hiked up the steep, rocky, sometimes muddy trail for a couple miles. Everybody was glad to have their hiking staff to support our steps. A couple times, under Deena’s watchful eye, the kids went off trail to climb some steep but short rock faces.

We dodged the rain and had a dry hike. But thunder and not-so-distant lightening constantly threatened. At the top, as we relaxed at the highest knoll on the ridge, Ranger Bob noticed that every one’s hair was standing up. How strange. Then it dawned on him. Bob stood up and shouted “Everybody down from this rock! Get off the mountain! We are about to get struck by lightning!” So we high tailed it down-hill back to the parking lot. Mileena and Tre turned out to be strong, natural hikers. A good time was had by all!

Bob Laney

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Bob is the site curator and writer of Blue Ridge Outing. Since starting the Blue Ridge Outing travel blog in 2002, Bob has written, recorded and documented countless expeditions in the US and around the world.