Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Hiking Stone Mountain, NC

Here are some photos of my hiking trip yesterday. My wife was concerned that I was going alone. Dr. Walter Gessler, for whom I was best man, broke his arm only a few weeks ago on this very trail - and he was with his wife and baby son. I'm experienced enough not to be cocky on unsure footing - and Stone Mountain in North Carolina is no place to mess around. They are constructing stairs and bridges in a few areas that are difficult for most people. I hike with a 7 foot pole capable of providing a third foot on the ground and long enough to use to vault over various obstacles and help steady myself crossing water on slick rocks. Here are some photos I took yesterday:

This is pine tree I passed on the way up the mountain. Pine trees normally have roots that go down into the ground. However, because it has grown in shallow soil on the rock, the roots are spread out like that of an oak or maple. It appears to have been laid down by the rangers to clear the path.

Further on up, I looked down the path behind to see a family hiking up the mountain behind me. They had paused to enjoy the view. At points like this, the path is marked with dots painted on the rock.

You can see the orientation of the trees to the path. The trees are growing straight up. There are sections where one needs to climb on all fours with the rock inches from one's face. I just dragged my pole along - at a point it loses it's usefulness. Any steeper and you'd need ropes and spikes.

This is the view from which I rested and studied for a while. This is the tree under which I found shade.

This is a section of the stairs that make hiking the big falls possible:

This video is from the center segment of the falls. Because of the curve of the rock across which the water falls, one cannot see the top or the bottom of the falls from the center.

This is the bottom of the falls:

These aren't the only falls at Stone Mountain. There are the Middle Falls and the Lower Falls. The Lower Falls had a long trail and weren't very accessible. Here is a patch of some wild ferns en route to the Lower Falls:

The Middle Falls had a shorter trail and were more accessible. Here's a video of them:

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