Monday, March 14, 2011

Hanging Rock Revisit

Carole and I drove to Cary NC to buy an antique oak office chair for my office. After we'd done that, we headed westward to visit Hanging Rock State Park since neither of us had been there since we took a float trip down the Dan River a few years ago.

Somehow, despite three previous visits to that park, I missed hiking to the summit of the park's namesake mountain, and also to what it probably the prettiest waterfall in the park. I just never had the time to hit those two features. But today I did.

I need to finish writing a short story for Eric Brown, so I'll write more on the trip later. For now, here are a few photos:

Hanging Rock is part of a small outlying and independent range of summits called the Sauratown Mountains, named for the totally extinct Saura Indians. These mountains exist because they have a highly resistant caprock composed of quartzite. This stuff has resisted water and gravity for 250 goddamned million years. Yeah, eventually it'll give in (everything does), but so far it's holding out.

I love my telephoto lens. Sometimes I lose a subject when I have to exchange lenses, but this time I got lucky. This was--I think--a fence lizard. The color didn't quite seem right for that species, but I think that's what it is. There aren't many species of lizard here in North Carolina, so the choices are slim. Also, this was the biggest fence lizard I've ever seen--probably five inches long, easy. It was also very fat and very healthy looking.

The girl in this photo is actually sitting on the real bit of rock they call "Hanging Rock". It juts out over empty space. Off in the distance are Cook's Wall and Moore's Knob, the highest peak in the park.

This is Lower Cascade Falls. I'd missed seeing it on my other trips to the park. It's a really very beautiful waterfall. It's super-easy to get to, so don't ever go there looking for solitude. I got lucky and the three people who were there when I first arrived left soon after I got to the bottom of the falls, and the next crowd came down just as I was leaving.

This is the tiered cascade below the main plunge pool at Lower Cascade Falls.


Jack said...

I've never been to Hanging Rock. Looks like a neat little State Park!

HemlockMan said...

It's a very nice park. One of those isolated mountain ranges, but this one's quite bigger and more extensive than something like Crowder's Mountain. But composed of similar stuff--quartzite. The quartzite at Hanging Rock is much paler--almost blindingly white in places. Another thing about the Sauratown Mountains is that they have their own watershed and subsequently quite a number of decent waterfalls. I think there's something like five notable waterfalls in the park along trails. The higher peaks are pretty impressive--they have about 1600 to 1800 feet of relief above their base, so they're tough-looking peaks with LOTS of exposed rock and sheer cliffs. I highly recommend a visit.