Thanksgiving at Table Rock State Park

Unexpected Fine Granite near Greenville, South Carolina

November, 1972

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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 Listening To Turkey
Cooking Chris Checking in on the Turkey

Wine Carving Turkey Chris Eve
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.

Cats Red Fox
Cats Red Fox

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.

Creek Falls Waterfall
Creek Falls Waterfall

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.

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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.

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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.