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Sunday, March 4, 2018

Raven Rock State Park

Hi Blog!

We are working our way north so that Dave can meet his jury duty requirement on March 20th. We are currently camped in Four Oaks, North Carolina. We are trying NOT to go north too soon, since the Philadelphia area is being hammered by snowy, icy nor'easters. We have a couple days here to explore. On Sunday, March 4, 2018, we drove over to Raven Rock State Park to do a little hiking.

Raven Rock State Park sits along the fall zone, an area where the hard, resistant rocks of the Appalachian foothills give way to the softer rocks and sediments of the coastal plain. The underlying rocks of the area were formed more than 400 million years ago by intense heat and pressure. Through the ages, flowing waters and swirling winds gradually eroded the land, carving and sculpting Raven Rock. We looked forward to getting up close to these ancient rocks. But first, we needed to traverse the hardwood forest that surrounds the Cape Fear River.

From an overlook, Kathy peers down upon the Cape Fear River. It's been a long time since we've been this high. We've just spent the last couple months in the coastal planes of Texas, Louisiana, Florida and South Carolina.

The Sioux and Tuscarora Indians hunted this area until European settlers arrived in the mid-18th century. The first settlers were primarily hunters and trappers who were searching for high country similar to their homeland, Scotland. Later, stores, mills and quarries were built. Many of the woodlands were farmed, and as the forests returned, much of the land was harvested for timber. In the rapids pictured below, the early settlers set up fish traps.

As we continued to hike down to Raven Rock, our attention was drawn to this unusual tree.

Raven Rock is a 150-foot high and one mile long crystalline granite rock formation along the Cape Fear River. In order to appreciate the sheer size of the rock, it is best to climb down to the base. Can you see Dave on the stairs below?

Raven Rock is part of the Piedmont, a formation of metamorphic, sedimentary, and igneous rocks created through the crushing blows of mountain-building continental collisions, the erosion of mountain chains, and the pulling apart of a super continent. The tiny folks in the photo below are looking up at over 400 million years of history.

Life hangs on, even in the most unlikely of places.

Bundled against the cold, Kathy takes in the immense outcrop.

Before long, we reached the end of our side trail and it was time to start climbing back up.

We decided to take the Little Creek Loop Trail in order to log a couple more miles before lunch. This beautiful little woods walk took us all along the banks of Little Creek, which burbled along granite rock shelves, producing pretty little cascades and pools.

Our final adventure took us right down to the banks of the Cape Fear River on the Fish Trap Trail. Just beyond the rapids where the fish traps where set, lies the remains of the old Northington Lock and Dam. After a hurricane destroyed the locks and dams in 1859, the structures were not replaced; railroad transportation eliminated the need for river travel. As new roads were built, the ferry was closed and Raven Rock became a popular recreation spot -- for which we are eternally grateful.

By connecting these trails, we ended up hiking over six miles. All that hiking builds up a powerful thirst that only local craft brews can quench. We decided to do our quenching at Double Barley Brewing in nearby Smithfield. We were drawn to this place by all the good reviews on Trip Advisor. However, good beer is subjective. It was our duty to sample all their brews and decide for ourselves.

There wasn't a bad beer in the bunch. However, we have a tiny RV and, unfortunately, could not take them all home with us. We filled a couple growlers with Sparkys - a coffee, chocolate, milk stout. We also picked up a couple specialty bottles including a belgian holiday ale and Thrilla in Vanilla, plus a couple four packs - barrel aged Steakcake Stout and Gourd Rocker Imperial Pumpkin Porter!  Kathy couldn't resist showing off her treasure as we got out of the Jeep back at our campground:

If you are traveling up the I-95 corridor in North Carolina, make time to stop at Double Barley Brewing, in Smithfield. After talking with the owner, they plan to join Harvest Host and are looking forward to RVers boondocking in their parking lot!

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