Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Stone Mountain Hike.

Carole and I took her mom to Stone Mountain State Park Sunday for a picnic and quasi-60th birthday celebration for me. When it comes to NC high country, this state park is the most easily accessible for me. There are some lower monadnocks located closer (such as Crowders Mountain), but Stone Mountain is actually sitting in the midst of 4,000-foot summits and is definitely among the bigger mountains here in the Carolinas.

We got there early, picked out a picnic table and grill and soon got busy making hamburgers and relaxing by the table. Carole then drove me to a nearby trailhead so that all I had to do was hike up and over the mountain on the same trail that would dump me back out at the picnic area where they would be waiting.

The hike was a relatively easy one. There's just one big elevation gain at the beginning (about 600 feet, I think). I was having sinus problems so it winded me more than I'd like to admit, but it really is a simple, easy hike. I've always liked that trail, even back in the days when they didn't have all of the stairs and cables to help you over the roughest spots. The first time I hiked it back in the mid-80s there was nothing at all in the way of infrastructure on the trail except for painted orange dots on the exposed rock to let you know that you were on the trail.

Everything was really nice for that hike, including the weather. The temperatures barely broke into low 80s and the humidity was also very low. I got some great photos and video of the cliffs and views. Since it was on a Sunday, there were more people on the summit than I like to encounter, and I saw almost no wildlife--the exception being lots of white-tail deer off the main trail as I returned to the picnic area.

All in all, it was a great way to spend a quasi-birthday celebration.

Carole and Faye at the picnic spot we chose.

Pregnant doe at the edge of the forest.

Birthday selfie.

Although not on the summit, this is actually my favorite view on Stone Mountain.

The large crack on the mountain (actually an exfoliation scar) is the most popular climbing route on the mountain. This is where a lot of North Carolina rock climbers learn the sport.

A closer view of the climbing route called "The Great Arch".

Out of breath as I climb the slopes.

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