Wilkes County Highpoint Trip Report

Tomkins Knob

Date: May 23, 2006
Author: Shannon Dillmore

On my last free day for awhile, I set out from Raleigh at 5 am to hit Grandfather Mountain, Tomkins Knob and Brushy Mountain (Caldwell, Watauga, Wilkes and Yadkin NC CoHPs respectively). I elected to go for the top of Tomkins Knob first.

This is superficially an easy peak to bag. I parked at the Tomkins Knob overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway, then walked about a half mile west on the road, and then headed south for light bushwhacking to the peak. At this point, I realized I left the map and compass at home but, as the summit lies only about 0.4 mile off the road, I figured it would be easy to locate. It was; all I had to do was follow the rising ground. I found the top with the BM, taking note of landmarks. It took 23 minutes to reach the top from the overlook, about 3/4 of a mile with 440 feet of elevation gain. The way back took three hours.

I somehow got turned around and hit a cliff, knowing I was certainly going in the wrong direction. I wasn't sure if I could find the top again, so I kept proceeding downwards, finding an old jeep road that turned in to logging roads, and finally came to a gravel road. At this point I was pretty sure I was on the wrong side of the ridge, and stopping to talk with a friendly local confirmed this suspicion. He very graciously offered to give me a lift back to my car, a 12 mile trip. He would not accept any money for gas.

I learned yet again that striking off into trailess wilderness - no matter how close to a road - with no navigation tools is a foolish idea. If I had turned left instead of right at the gravel road, I would have walked eight or so miles before reaching a residence.

The extra time on the return trip meant I had no time for Grandfather Mountain. I bagged Yadkin county on the way home, using the trip report as a guide.