Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Hike to see Stone Mountain

After we left Sparta we headed down the mountain. I wanted to stop at Stone Mountain State Park which was on the way home. It's located at the base of the Blue Ridge escarpment, so while the namesake of the park is a true mountain, it rises out of the relatively low Piedmont area just below the high country east of Sparta and the Blue Ridge Parkway.

I've been to Stone Mountain many times, but I never get tired of hiking there. I still haven't seen a couple of sections of the park, so there's plenty for me to see in the future. Since we still had plenty of time left in the day, I wanted to take Carole on a brief hike to a spot where there's a great view of Stone Mountain and which also has a historically significant preserved farm (the Hutchinson Homestead) which served as homeplace to four generations of the same family. This spot is also the basis of the climbing routes up the sheer stone face of the summit, so there's generally some activity going on there.

One thing that I was hoping for was to see some technical rock climbers. I wasn't disappointed, and there were several groups doing technical climbs of Stone Mountain. It was fun to watch them make their ways up some of the routes on the cliffs.

Sometimes when you're at the base of a big mountain and looking up, you lose sense of scale. However, take note of the dark crack to the left of the pale flake of granite above the line of trees growing up the face of the mountain. If you click on the photo and enlarge it, you should see a red dot. That red dot was a human being:

See the climber? He's wearing a red jacket and a white helmet. This is another reason I like the mountains. It reminds me of how puny the human race is in the scale of the Universe.

While Carole waited in the field below the cliffs, I went to the climbing routes and made my way as far up the mountain as it was safe to go. At this spot I was at a point beyond which you needed technical equipment to continue. Above me about 100 feet or so was a climbing instructor and a student. I was able to speak with them a little before I headed back down.

This was the climbing instructor and his student high above me.

Carole and Yours Truly in the field at the base of Stone Mountain. The mowed path leading to the mountain is to show rock climbers where the technical routes begin. There the climbers can register and begin their climbs.

Stone Mountain from the field at the base. Click to see this sucker in full monster mode.

Tomorrow...the hike in and the Hutchinson Farm.

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