Quitting is Good, Featuring Grandfather Mountain State Park

I was an avid Modern Family watcher when it first premiered. Like many people (at least according to the numbers), I quit sometime after the fourth or fifth season and never bothered to keep up with any of the storylines or stars. Still, I’ll always have a fondness for Claire and Phil Dunphy, who were my favorites, so when Spotify suggested a podcast called Quitters, hosted by Julie Bowen, who played Claire, I figured I’d give it a go. 

I’ve only listened to two episodes and am not sure if I’m sold on it or not, but I like the concept. The podcast positions quitting as a good thing, exploring what people have left behind to move forward. There’s a negative association with the word “quitter” that the podcast seems to be attempting to turn around, stressing how quitting jobs, relationships, habits, and places is often something to be celebrated. Quitters are wise—no one wants to be the last man at the party, right (disregarding the fact that I almost always am)?

This reexamination of quitting is having a bit of a moment. In an Atlantic article entitled What Quitters Understand About the Job Market, Derek Thompson writes, “Quitting gets a bad rap in life, associated with pessimism, laziness, and lack of confidence. In labor economics, however, quits signifying the opposite: an optimism among workers about the future; an eagerness to do something new; and a confidence that if they jump ship, they won’t drown but rather just land on a better, richer boat.”  

He’s writing about “the Great Resignation,” how more Americans willingly quit their jobs last year to find ones that make them happier. It’s something I write about often for my job as a content marketer for a recruiting software company—we excerpted that exact quote in a report we put together about the 2022 talent migration, which explores how this unprecedented quitting will probably force positive workplace changes across all industries, and positions quitting as a good thing.

Why am I going out of my way to talk about the strengths of quitting? Mostly because I decided to quit my ascent up McCrae Peak in North Carolina’s Grandfather Mountain State Park last weekend, abandon my brother, backtrack down the mountain, and take an alternative route that wouldn’t inspire a heights-induced panic attack. I have no regrets. 

McCrae Peak in Grandfather Mountain State Park

Grandfather Mountain has been on my radar for some time. It’s about an hour and a half from Asheville and famous for its swinging bridge, with it proudly touts as being the “mile-high swinging bridge.” It’s also renowned for the Grandfather Trail, a high altitude, a technically challenging trail that stretches from the peak of Grandfather Mountain to Calloway Peak, summiting McCrae Peak in the middle. The trail is full of rock scrambles, caverns, and very steep sections that require the assistance of cables and ladders. A friend of mine did Grandfather Mountain a week before me and told me it was one of his favorite Western North Carolina Hikes to date (he’s also a somewhat new Ashevillian and fellow PA ex-pat, so we have similar lists of hikes to check off). He neglected to tell me it was terrifying. 

I didn’t cross the swinging bridge but had my brother take this picture that made it look like I did.

The trail started fun, although my brother and I attempted this on Memorial Day, at the end of a four-day weekend when we’d already hiked a combined twenty miles (including Cold Mountain, which is a workout). We weren’t in top-performing shape. I liked the hike, though, and we both agreed it reminded us of the Adirondack and White Mountain hikes we both love. 

Less than a mile in (but what felt like 6), you can go up and over McCrae Peak or take the Overland Trail around McCrae Peak. If you have any aversion to heights, I’m telling you now, take the Overland Trail for your sanity. I made it maybe three ladders up before looking up, seeing the final ascent, and telling my brother I’d be parting ways and meeting him on the other side. For anyone reading thinking that was a callous thing to do to my brother/hiking companion, that poor man had to deal with me having to lay down in the back seat of our rental car, close my eyes, and whimper during a particularly harrowing descent in Yosemite last fall and thus was probably relieved he wouldn’t have to stop and deal with my antics again. 

Turn left here if you don’t want to hang off the side of a cliff.

We chose not to continue onto the Calloway Peak and turned around once we met on the far side of McCrae, but all things considered, I’d still return to Grandfather Mountain and check out some of the other trails in the future.

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