Ascent of Mississippi-Santee-Pee Dee Triple Divide on 2010-07-24

Climber: Tom Layton

Date:Saturday, July 24, 2010
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Mississippi-Santee-Pee Dee Triple Divide
    Location:USA-North Carolina
    Elevation:3720 ft / 1133 m

Ascent Trip Report

Raindrops that fall in Blowing Rock can reach sea level at five places--New Orleans, Mobile AL, or three points on the SC coast.

The Yadkin and New Rivers both can be traced to springs underneath the Green Park Inn where US321 crosses the Eastern Continental Divide. The ridge west of the inn marks the triple divide of the New, Yadkin, and Catawba rivers, which are headwaters for the Mississippi, Pee Dee, and Santee, respectively. Separated at birth, the Yadkin and Catawba nearly reunite in the end, as the Pee Dee and Santee empty into the Atlantic just five miles apart near Georgetown SC.

Three miles away on US221 west of Blowing Rock, Sandy Flats Church on the Moses Cone estate marks the divide for the Watauga, New, and Catawba. A thousand miles downstream, the Watauga and the New both feed into the Mississippi via the Tennessee and Ohio rivers, so this point has been removed from the Peakbagger Triple Divide list on a technicality. However, since some of the Tennessee is diverted into the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway, which follows the Black Warrior River to the Mobile Bay, this churchyard does have three outlets to the ocean.

(Similarly, some of the Santee is diverted via Lake Moultrie into the Cooper River, where it blesses the Holy City of Charleston.)

The four rivers that originate in Blowing Rock flow to the four points of the compass. The New heads north, the Yadkin east, the Catawba south, and the Watauga west. Those of us fortunate enough to live here have noticed the parallel with the second chapter of the book of Genesis, which describes four rivers flowing from the Garden of Eden.

Boone banker Alfred Adams (1911-2002) wrote a splendid little essay about this, hearkening back to the simpler days before Boone had a Five Guys, a 4-lane highway or a 3-time national champion football team. It's posted on my blog.
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