BACK IN BLACK
Thanksgiving weekend provided me with a 5-day break, but weather, football, and family obligations left me with only one free day for hiking.† That free day fell on the day after Thanksgiving Ė Black Friday.† In addition to being the biggest shopping day of the year, itís also one of the busiest for hunting.† Because of this, Christy and I chose to hike at Stone Mountain State Park.† We had last hiked there exactly seven years ago.† Therefore, this destination fit perfectly into my recent theme of going to places I hadnít visited in years.
We drove up from my Momís house in Winston-Salem Friday morning.† Traffic was light, as we steered clear of Hanes Maul and the surrounding shopping centers.† After a little over an hour, we arrived at the main parking lot.† There were only a few cars in the lot, and we were looking forward to a quiet hike.† Apparently the usual crowds at Stone Mountain were shopping, or the weather had scared them away.† It was cloudy and cold, and there were a few flurries floating in the air.
We followed the Stone Mountain Trail, first along the valley, and then up the parkís signature peak.† The park is in the process of rehabilitating this trail, and it was difficult following the path among the switchbacks and new construction.† Eventually we tired of this, and abandoned the path in favor of an open granite slope.† The rock face was steeper, but much more scenic.† We hiked up the open rock quickly, as a cold wind discouraged lingering.
Near the summit we rejoined the trail for a pleasant stroll through the woods.† We descended more switchbacks and followed a dirt road to another expanse of open granite.† This rock face provided more fine views, including a profile of Stone Mountain itself.† From there, we passed an old homestead before descending a long staircase along Stone Mountain Falls.† We paused for a quick lunch at the base.† Itís a nice spot, although the low water level diminished the appeal of the falls.
After lunch, we hiked downstream back towards the car.† Along here we began seeing other hikers, so we knew that the sales must be over.† Eventually we reached an attractive meadow at the base of Stone Mountain.† This meadow provides a fine view of the granite dome, and we spotted several rock climbers working their way up the face.
From here, Christy headed directly back to the car, as her recent foot injury was acting up.† I wanted to do a little more, as my favorite part of the park was still ahead of me.† We parted ways, and I hiked up an old roadbed to Cedar Rock.† Here I found my favorite view of Stone Mountain.† From there, I drifted through the woods, before reaching a side path out to Wolf Rock.† Wolf Rock is a broad expanse of open granite, offering views to the north and west.† I could see the Blue Ridge Parkway from here, as well as the last of the fall colors.† I didnít linger long though, as Christy was waiting for me back at the car.
I hurried back, dodging numerous hikers as I neared the parking lot.† When I arrived, I found perhaps 50 cars.† Sometimes, starting early has its rewards.† We headed home from there, as we had to get ready for ASUís playoff football game in Boone the next day.
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