Conquering the Sphinx


I love hiking, this was mountain climbing! The Linville Gorge is a beautiful rugged area that I am falling in love with. We are heading deep into the Gorge to a place so remote they tell me only a select number of people ever go to. I was calling us the Elite team!

Luckily we had two of the coolest 18 year olds on the planet as guides. They know the gorge, safety, rock climbing, volunteer with the Linville Rescue Squad, do trail maintenance and basically work hard to protect and maintain these natural areas. I am in awe of Nick and John Massey, we all were.

We met at Table Rock at 10. We went toward Shortoff Mountain. About 2 miles down the trail we took an unmarked path to the right which I believe is the Ampitheater trail. After a bit the trail splits and you can go left to the mummy or straight to where we are going. We stopped on top of some cliffs to meet up with everyone.

We are going down there! They tell me it was about 1100 feet down and Up! But to make matters worse it was in under 2 miles one way! Hard core! Here we go!!

In the pic above we left from the top of that huge rock wall. There are no trails here just the path of least resistance. Most of the first half was large boulders following a water source down. Everywhere is beautiful views. I never forgot to look up!

I was having a ball climbing down this. The guys we so helpful especially during the big drops and wet areas.

The pic below is the Mummy. It’s a popular rock climbing site.

Here the guides are deciding the best way to go. Fun fun!

This next pic I think really shows the depth of this journey! A lot of the trek looked like this!

And down we continued. This is about the time I’m thinking “how the heck am I going to get back up!” Don’t think about it now that’s a problem to solve later.

This was a cool climb up through two large outcroppings.

We stopped on top of a nice big ledge for a snack and a great view of the Sphynx. Another 20 minutes !

We are about to go through this bowl like area in the picture below. No trail just bushwhacking. This was the hardest (worst) part so far. It was basically a giant briar patch! I could never have done it without my gloves!

Once we got through here we were at the base of the Sphinx! Nick, Michael and I arrived first. Nick immediately went up. I was resting. Michael went next. David arrived and went up. Yep I’m still sitting here! Then everyone else arrived. Joann and Ed headed up. John headed up. I’m still sitting here. When John came back down I finally decide to give it a try. John thankfully showed me the way and helped me up. As I’m climbing I got cheers! Here comes Roseann!

Nick was getting the ropes in order and John went down for some things. He basically ran up and down. Wish I was that comfortable. The views awesome!

Insert obligatory selfie below.

Nick got Joann in the harness first – This girl isn’t afraid of nothin!

Before everyone got busy I asked John to get me back down. Otherwise I would be stuck up there because no way was I crossing! I’d trust these guys with my life but I was more afraid of freezing with fear and not being able to come back! When I got down Cat went up.

I walked around these other large boulders to take some pics of the brave ones! I’m so jealous! Wish I had a better camera!

Brandi and I decided to get hiking back because it was getting late. We wanted to make sure we got out of the scramble before the sun went down. I led us through the briar patch. I went on the high side closer to the rock wall. Here I took some pics of them up on the Sphynx from below.

When we got towards the rock we had lunch on I thought we should go low but Brandi said we go up. Up seamed a lot harder than when we came down but she was right. We climbed out of the Briar patch, over the water source and then started up the base by the mummy. Michael caught up to us here.

Oh lord this was the hard part! Climbing up 1100 feet and I swear a 45 degree angle! Not to mention at least 3 times in the climb was so wide I had to lift my body weight just to proceed. Really I always amaze myself at how strong I can be. Even with my long legs I had to lift my body up. Others might trust their footing more but not me. We double teamed a bit. Brandi handed me her 80 lb pack (haha) and I raised it up to Michael. Seriously sometimes being a minimalist is the better option! She told me not to be one this Trip so my pack had more in it but still nothing compared. Haha!

Pretty soon everyone else caught up to us as we continued this hellacious climb! Michael and I kept climbing ahead blazing our trail. I said I didn’t want to follow him because he takes the hard way! Haha there is no easy way! I’m telling you I didn’t think I had it in me I was so tired. After a bit more climbing he pointed to these pine trees and said you see those? That’s the end of hell! Oooo I’m excited now! 100 feet to go! 50 ft to go! Hell yea!!!!! I did it.

As we waited for everyone else I thought about what John said. He said when you get to the top I’m gonna remind you that you said you couldn’t do it. Awesome guy. He was right. A a few minutes later here they come one by one! Everyone said it was super hard! Except crazy Kat. She likes going up! Yea well she’s 26 and does Spartans races! (Insert jealousy here).

It was getting dark we still had a climb to the main trail but no more scrambling. From here it was only about a mile to the parking lot. It was a nice hike as the sun went down. Unfortunately I couldn’t quit wining. Each large step another ow! I wanted to stop but I was so tired. Brandi said so I guess you won’t hike with us again? When I didn’t answer she said I guess that’s a no? I said I’m to tired to think and speak! Haha. Of course I’m ready to do it again, whatever it is!

So on the way back we encountered the weirdest thing, a light saber! A guy was doing some photography and had a light saber.

Ed joked we just solved the case of the Brown Mountain Lights! 🤪

An interesting and amazing day from start to finish. Now to get down that crazy road which is an adventure in itself!

Thanks for taking me!🤣


3 thoughts on “Conquering the Sphinx

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  1. My family bought some property nearby and I have been exploring the area and heard about the Sphinx and decided I want to do it and spend the night up top. Thanks for the info and great story. Happy trails!


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