Around Atlanta: Stone Mountain Field Trip

The Camp Granola crew needed a good, outdoor field trip today in spite of the crushing heat setting in here in the south. I talked them into a hike up Stone Mountain, Atlanta’s iconic “hill” east of the city. I initially thought I’d have to drag them up given the heat index today but they were enthusiastic little hikers, motivated by the promise of sugar-and-dye-soaked crushed ice at the top.

Stone Mountain Marker
The Summit

When Fred and George were wee little guys (and we lived much closer) we climbed it quite frequently but our visits have become occasional since moving waaaay out to Suburban Golf Course Hell. More typically lately our Stone Mountain adventures have been for photography and geocaching, not climbing Atlanta’s Pet Rock.

My push for climbing Stone Mountain today was to give George the chance to climb it under his own power. Fred’s done it while I carried George in a pack many years ago. But I dropped the ball on giving George the chance since it’s a total suck-fest to drive there now.

At any rate, George was all set to conquer it today and I let him be the leader and set the pace. It wasn’t nearly as difficult as he anticipated and he thoroughly enjoyed looking out over the city, sorting out his internal compass on which direction his favorite places were.

Hydration Break
Braving the Georgia heat
Trying out the natural seats
One of the wonders of Stone with built-in seats.
The Descent
The Descent

Of course, it wasn’t all about George. Fred was stoked about the climb too and dressed in full-on adventurer geek gear: chain-mail, bow and arrow, quiver, etc. He took out many enemies along the way, much like A Christmas Story’s Ralphie. (This is definitely not the first time I’ve had to make that comparison in Fred’s eleven tender years.)

For yours truly, the ecology of Stone Mountain is a total nerdfest. There’s all sorts of cool and unique things happening on Stone Mountain and its sisters, Arabia and Panola Mountains. But that’s another post, lest I get carried away this evening.

Overall, the climb was a success. I got a great quote from each boy and we left happy, rejuvenated, and awesomely sweaty after a little outdoor therapy. The only downside is that now the boys are all hot and bothered about doing a day on the other side of the park.

Explorer Fred
Fred's quote today: "That was quite an adventure!" (He does a Granola mom proud.)
Sweaty George
George begged to differ today with the biogeography of his Arctic Blast. He said it should have actually been an Antarctic Blast since there's a penguin on it.
The Carving
The "other" side of Stone Mountain (circa 2006)

For those of you not familiar with Stone Mountain beyond 30 Rock references, you should know there’s Stone Mountain Park and the City of Stone Mountain which are different entities. The collective Stone Mountain area has changed dramatically over the last 20+ years Jester and I have been visiting. We have quite a bit of history tied up in the park in particular with as much time as we’ve spent there. We got engaged at the top and had our engagement portraits done there in addition to all of the hiking and biking we’ve done over the years. (I considered including one of our engagement photos but I think I’ll spare you.)

When we first started climbing it, Stone Mountain was pretty much just a park with some Civil War museums and of course, the carving. These days the walk-up trail side is still very much about the trails and very park-like which is where we locals tend to congregate. The other side, or dark side if you will, is the tourist section complete with over-priced food and attractions for lack of a better word. I guess it depends on what you find attractive. Unfortunately, the insanity of the tourist side is quite appealing to my minions. Fred and George particularly like the Great Barn which is complete mayhem of sensory overload. It’s hard not to leave twitching.

So in spite of a good day, it seems I’ve set myself up for another trip to Stone Mountain Park. But next time it will be to the dark side. Is there a granola version of the force I can summon to resist?

A trip down Camp Granola memory lane…

The wee little ones on their first parent-assisted ascents.

First Time - Fred
Fred's first ascent (circa 2000)

First Time - George
George's first ascent (circa 2003)

Finally one running on his own power.

Erratic Terrain
Fred navigating the trail on his first self-powered ascent (Age 4)

And now for your moment of green…

Yellow Daisies
A few of Stone Mountains famous yellow daisies. And a bug.