I am in no way an outdoorsy person, unless it involves a beer garden or grilling. When I was younger I never went to camp or camping for that matter. I generally preferred places with showers and the least amount of dirt as possible. However, since moving here it seems like anyone that claims themselves to be a Charlottean has enjoyed the wonderful natural habitat surrounding the city. This was actually my second time going to Crowders Mountain State Park. What I did not know the first time was that there are actually two companion peaks: The Pinnacle and Crowders Mountain. The first time we did the Pinnacle (even though my insta totally said it was Crowders, oops) and were so hungry when we got to the top that the way down was miserable. This time we opted for some more planning (aka packed a picnic) and made sure we took the Crowder’s Mountain route.
What to Bring:
- #PubSub: second to water this is the most important thing. Going to Publix and getting a sub will dramatically improve your hiking experience. Trust me, I have done this sans-sandwich and it was not even a fraction as enjoyable. Throw in grapes and chips for the perfect picnic.
- Blanket/Towel: if you plan to have a picnic at the top this will make it very enjoyable. I brought a tapestry because it’s lightweight and very durable.
- Water: because duh. I brought one large water bottle and it was enough. And let’s be honest it’s most likely going to be a Camelbak because we all have one. You gotta toe the line with just enough so you will not have to use the bathroom while on the hike but stay hydrated so you don’t pass out.
- Chapstick: I forgot this and was dying the whole time. I laid in bed that night just applying it on my lips repeatedly.
- Hand sanitizer: another thing I forgot and the clean freak in me regretted not having this at the top for the picnic.
What to Wear:
- Jacket: I went in February and wore it in the beginning and during our picnic at the top. Then I wore it 90s style around my waist for most of the hike.
- Tank or shirt: if wearing a backpack I would suggest a T-shirt rather then a tank. I made this mistake and was not at maximum comfort.
- Sunglasses: ones you don’t really care about because you will sweat.
- Sunscreen: apply before going. No one likes wrinkles.
- Tennis shoes: this is fairly easy hike that does not require hiking boots but if you have them it doesn’t hurt!
What to Expect:
We left Southend (Publix) around 11:15 and got there at about noon (GPS says it takes about 40 min). The main lot was full so we had to park in one of the outer lots and walk in (TIP: find some way to remember where you parked because it can all look the same. We nerded out and got a paper map). Here is my attempt at drawing out our route:
The way we went up was brutal towards the end but relatively flat and a clear marked trail most of the way. The way we took down was difficult at times because it was hard for us to tell where exactly the trail was leading. The way down also had a group of frat bros discussing politics but I’m not even going to get into that #makeamericagreatagainbro. The last stretch to the top was manmade steps which not only 1. indicated that you were done once you reached the top but 2. made you feel a little bit like Rocky Balboa (if Rocky had a serious asthma problem and a PubSub waiting in his backpack). I may have even sang the theme song on the way up and I also may have congratulated myself at the top. I was pumped to make it!! For being a person who considers drinking outside an “outdoorsy activity”, I was damn proud of myself for getting out on Sunday and climbing a mountain. Also, in this moment of victory is when I realized my crippling fear of heights. The jumping children and grown men galavanting about the top did not help with this fear. The edges were a big stress for me but I was able to assuage my fears long enough to enjoy my PubSub and take in the views: