It's been six years since Bill Haynes of Hendersonville suffered a severe stroke that left his right side paralyzed and took away his ability to speak. Time, rehabilitation and determination recently helped him do what he once thought was impossible - climb five trails at Chimney Rock at Chimney Rock State Park in one day.
"The first time we hiked in the Park was back during the spring," said Haynes. "We made it to the Chimney using the stairs and saw other steps leading to Exclamation Point, so we decided that during our next visit to the Park we would climb up to Exclamation Point."
On their second visit, Haynes and his son, Jack, accomplished their goal and decided then that they wanted to conquer more of the trails during their next hike. That's when the two began training.
"We decided to hit the gym to prepare," said Haynes. "After about a month on the treadmill and working out, we visited the Park and climbed the Outcroppings trail, Exclamation Point trail, Skyline trail to the top of the Falls, Hickory Nut Falls trail to the bottom of the Falls and Four Seasons trail. It took about six hours, but it was a wonderful experience."
The father/son duo may have conquered 8 miles of the Park's trails in one day, but that doesn't mean they're done exploring Chimney Rock.
"We want to see if we can do all of those trails faster during our next visit," said Haynes. "My journey is proof that no matter what you're going through, you can achieve your dreams. In 2012, I couldn't move my right side or speak. By setting goals and working toward them, I was able to do this. I'm proof that you have to keep trying and never give up."
Haynes and his son Jack recently became passholders so that they can explore the Park endlessly for 12 months and work on their hiking time. As passholders they'll also receive discounts at local attractions and are invited to special Park events where they can enjoy spending quality time together. Annual passes are $28 per adult and $12 per child. For the latest Park news, trail maps and information about becoming an annual passholder, visit ChimneyRockPark.com.
Chimney Rock at Chimney Rock State Park is a still-developing international outdoor destination located 25 miles southeast of Asheville on Highway 64/74A in Chimney Rock. It is recognized as one of the Southeast's most iconic sites and popular travel destinations. The Park's 535-million-year-old monolith called Chimney Rock can be accessed via the 494-step Outcroppings trail or by the Park's 26-story elevator inside the mountain that has just been renovated with state-of-the-art equipment. Once on top, guests can enjoy 75-mile panoramic views of Hickory Nut Gorge and Lake Lure. The Park also features one of the highest waterfalls of its kind east of the Mississippi River, Hickory Nut Falls, at 404 feet. Hickory Nut Gorge, one of the state's most significant centers of biodiversity, is home to 36 rare plant species and 14 rare animal species. The Rumbling Bald section of the greater State Park off of Boys Camp Road in Chimney Rock is the only other area of the Park that is currently open to the public. A destination for travel groups, weddings and special events, the Chimney Rock section of the Park also hosts innovative educational programs for schools, homeschoolers, scouts and summer camps. Visit Chimney Rock's website at chimneyrockpark.com