Pilot Mountain Through New Eyes

A rustle sweeping through towering sassafras and oaks sounded like rain. I waited for drops to fall on the canopy of our tent. When the sound passed by like a Doppler wave, growing in intensity before fading out, I realized it was only the wind.

Several leaves fluttered against the side of our new home-away-from-home, and I listened to the sounds filling the night air at Pilot Mountain campground with interest. We'd visited the park a few years after moving to North Carolina, but then, the purpose was to explore another one of the Old North State's stunning and unique geological landmarks. But family research that began several months ago with an Ancestry DNA test set off a chain of discoveries that showed me how deep my Carolina roots actually ran. And one of those roots involved Pilot Mountain and the sprawling Yadkin Valley it overlooks.

Today, the Yadkin Valley is wine country and home to several state parks that protect unique landmarks. However, in the past, the Saura Nation that once dwelled nearby called the mountain Jomeokee--the Great Guide. In later years, the domed peak now known as Pilot Mountain served as a navigational landmark for settlers migrating to the Yadkin Valley from Pennsylvania via the Great Wagon Road.

Pilot Mountain, as Settlers Might Have Seen It
Settlers traveling down the Great Road in late 1751 or early 1752 included my 6th and 7th great grandparents. As my husband and I drove north one day during our camping trip, then later headed south, back to the campgrounds, I realized I was looking at the same view my ancestors would have seen over 260 years ago. And when I stood in the parking lot near the summit of Pilot Mountain, I gazed out at the Yadkin Valley knowing I was gazing into my own past.

It made our stay even more exceptional.

But my own personal Jomeokee was only part of the reason of this trip. We visited another, nearby destination during our stay as well, and I'd like to think my ancestors also saw that towering peak as they made their way down the Great Road. So next up: Hanging Rock State Park.

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