More than 400 people came together at the Dan River Company on Saturday morning preparing to schlep nearly 11 miles through mountainous terrain in the River to Rock Hiking Challenge, hosted by the Stokes County Arts Council.
The trail route tested participants from the banks of the Dan River to the peak of Hanging State Park.
Folks of all ages, from students to seniors, representing 10 different states, set out to accomplish the goal of completing the challenge.
Formerly known as Reach the Peaks, Stokes County Arts Council Director Eddy McGee said this year provided a different trail route which proved a little more challenging due to an elevation change.
“It gives participants a different look at the park. You have more creek crossings, more than a dozen, and the water levels are up right now, but the response has been great,” he said.
Participants began at the Dan River Company, hiked the Indian Trail, which includes trails of Window Falls and Hidden Falls to the Hanging Rock Visitor’s Center, and then set off to the top of Hanging Rock.
From there, a local Girl Scout group handed out wristbands, which were traded for a completion patch when hikers retraced their steps back to the starting point.
“This year is something different and we’ve been pleased,” McGee said. “We’ve been able to incorporate Stokes County’s natural destinations, the park and the river. We’re also here at the Dan River Company and the Green Heron Ale House so we’re showing off a music venue, a beer and wine venue and outdoor recreation. There’s a lot of different partnerships involved.”
McGee credits the success of the annual challenge, in its sixth year, with local partnerships. Yveddi as an example, stayed busy shuttling participants from the county’s government center parking lot, two miles away to the Dan River Company on Flinchum Road.
“They’re always looking for opportunities to showcase what they do and the services they provide. They were at the Stokes Stomp and did a great job,” he said.
David Hoskins, who owns the Dan River Company and Green Heron Ale House said it’s always a pleasure to work with the arts council.
“It doesn’t get any better than this. To have this many people show up and happy to be in Stokes County is great,” Hoskins said.
Food trucks were on site for participants interested in a warm meal after the hike and the Green Heron Ale House offered craft beer and wine. As the only alehouse in the county, it’s a favorite for locals and out-of-town hikers, who enjoy an array of beer and cider along with their expanded wine list. The club also features live music every Saturday night.
McGee hopes participants on Saturday saw the different elements of what makes a community.
“We have natural outdoor recreation, cultural arts, tourism, economic development and young people volunteering to make this day a success. It’s good stuff.”
Proceeds from the River to Rock Hiking Challenge benefit continued arts education in Stokes County.
Top Finishers (Men):
1 – Charlie Leadford Otto, 1:22
2 – Tory Wagoner Rural, 1:41
3 – Dave Griffin
4 – Travis Stewart
5 – Lupe Luna
6 – Eddie Day
Top Finishers (Female):
1 – Jessica Hauser, 2:11
2 – Jennifer Moore, 2:22
3 – Masayo Ballard, 2:22
4 – Eve Anderson, 2:24
5 – Emma Drauszewski, 2:28
6 – Rebecca Adcock, 2:37
Asher Wright, 3:25 (14-years-old)
Sam Godwin (9-years-old)
Amanda Dodson may be reached at 336-813-2426.