Solitude at Stone Mountain
We had hoped to get some hiking in over Thanksgiving weekend, but the weather forecast looked messy for Saturday and Sunday. We needed to be back fairly early on Friday, so we decided to do a nearby hike. We headed for Doughton Park, where we planned to do the 10 mile hike to Caudill Cabin. Unfortunately, the road to the lower trailhead was closed. I had a vague recollection that there was another way around, but I didnít have a good map with me, and I didnít want to spend all day driving the back roads of Wilkes County. Instead, we decided to head for Stone Mountain.
The best aspect of Stone Mountain is the wildlife. On the way there, we passed a huge flock of wild turkeys. They were looking pretty smug, after having survived another Thanksgiving. Christy counted 21 turkeys before we headed on to the park. Once inside, we passed almost as many deer. Many of them were young, and the highlight was a young male just beginning to sprout antlers.
We arrived at the mammoth parking lot at 8am to find only 2 other cars. This was a relief, since Stone Mountain is well known for being crowded. Luckily, the cold, cloudy weather and early hour were keeping people away.
We hiked the steep trail up the face of Stone Mountain. We were quickly reminded that just because itís a "family" hike doesnít mean it isnít steep. Part of the way up, we left the path to traverse the bare granite. Although it was cloudy, the views were excellent towards Doughton Park and the Blue Ridge Parkway.
As we neared the top, we decided to have a little adventure. Instead of following the trail across the wooded summit, we circled the peakís southern side. We stayed on the rock face, just below the woods but above the sheer cliffs. The views were good, but the best part was the sense of adventure.
Eventually we crossed the path, and followed it down past Stone Mountain Falls. The falls were nice, but there was very little water going over them. However, we did enjoy seeing a lot of ice and snow from the storm the week before.
After the falls, we added to our loop, circling across Cedar Rock and Wolf Rock. From here, we got our best view of the face of Stone Mountain. As we descended from Wolf Rock, we passed the first people we had seen all day. We saw one group of dayhikers, and another group of rock climbers heading for the mountain.
We finished up our 6 mile hike before noon. We headed over to Widows Falls for a picnic lunch. Unfortunately, the low water flow made the falls much less spectacular than they sometimes are. The day was still cold and dreary, so we didnít stay long. However, we were thrilled to have the opportunity to hike at Stone Mountain and enjoy solitude.
And now, for the multiple choice question of the week:
As I sit on the couch, watching football the Saturday after Thanksgiving, I most resemble what vegetable?
Please submit your answers!
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