Wednesday, April 30, 2014

From the Land of Ma'am: Hiking Stone Mountain

And here I am with another hiking post. ;)  Doing these blog posts is a good way for me to capture the fun, positive memories of my time in NC, so hopefully you don't mind all these photo heavy posts.  Plus I have done a whole lot of complaining about living here, so maybe it's refreshing for you readers to read about some of the things I like about NC!  One of those things is definitely all the areas you can hike!

I was supposed to go to the Whitewater Center with a friend on Saturday but she ended up having to work so I figured I would save that for a week day when it'd be more quiet there and instead I went hiking at Stone Mountain State Park, which is about 90 minutes from Charlotte. I got there at 8:30 and there were only 2 other cars in the parking lot so I mostly had the trail to myself which was nice!

Early on in the hike there were great look-out spots which was nice.  As you can see, it was a gorgeous days.  Temps were in the 50s when I started and up to the 80s by the finish so I am glad I got an early start!

I climbed to the summit first which was strenuous but the switch-backs made it easier than if I would have had to climb stairs.  There were stairs on the other side of the summit so I am glad I went the direction I did!

I hiked a couple of trails off the main trail so got lots of different views of the horizon.  I will spare you the many, many pictures of the horizon that I took, but here is one of them.

About 2/3 of the way through the trail, you got a view of Stone Mountain itself.

And then I hit the "falls" part of the trail.  I love trails that go by water as the sound and views of rushing water are so peaceful.

I did have some mishaps on this hike.  First, I fell and slid  down some rocks when trying to get a picture of one of the small waterfalls.  Ouch.  The rocks did not look wet so this fall took me by surprise!  I had the hardest time climbing back up as the rocks were so slippery. 

My second mishap was when I was crossing a stream.  In hindsight I should have realized there were far to many rocks to step on and I should have taken off my socks and shoes.  But I didn't which means I stepped into water up to my ankle on both feet.  Hiking with wet socks/shoes is not ideal but it was towards the end of my hike so wasn't a big deal!

After about 3.5 hours of hiking, I got to the main attraction, which is the main waterfall.  I sat on some rocks at the base of the waterfall and had my lunch. After about 9 miles of hiking, I was ravenous!

Speaking of lunch, this is what I have been eating on my last two hikes, along with a tuna sandwich that I made at home.  These gopicnic meals are awesome as you get lots of different snacks like trail mix and crackers with some kind of spread.  I liked the first box I tried better as it had hummus with my favorite GF crackers.  I got these on sales at Target for $3.50 each which I think is reasonable.  It'd be a great little snack to bring on a long plane ride, so I will definitely be buying these in the future.

After resting for a bit, it was time to head back to the parking lot - which was located at the top of the falls...  which means I had what felt like 1,000 stairs to climb.  They just kept going and going and going.  My legs were already tired from hiking 9 miles so I was really ready to be done with the stairs when I got to the summit.

Luckily there were views of the waterfall along some parts of the staircases.

Finally, I reached the top and was awarded with this beautiful view.

Exhausted and happy to be safely back to the car!
There was another trail I was hoping to do from a different parking lot in the park but I opted not to do this since I had wet feet/shoes!  So I hit the road and got back to Charlotte in time to read a little Jane Eyre on my patio.  In my bathing suit since it was 80 degrees.  :)

I'm so glad I'm getting a chance to explore more of NC before I leave.  When I was doing this hike I was thinking about how a year ago, I would have been getting up and settling in for 6-8 hours of CFA studying.  Boy am I glad that phase is behind me.  It's been fun to explore all these hiking trails - I only wish I hadn't been in the boot all summer for that stress fracture as I think being able to do hikes like these on the weekends would have made living in Charlotte more tolerable, but oh well!  

If you found out you were leaving the area where you live, what would make your 'bucket list' of things to do/see?  I have a couple more hikes I want to do, and a couple of restaurants I want to eat at before I leave Charlotte.


Becky said...

These photos are beautiful! So glad you didn't get hurt when you fell - wet socks and boots are the worst!

If I were making a bucket list it would be monuments and museums in D.C. that I'd want to do - maybe see if there's anything similar in Charlotte? A plantation or something to visit?

Jeanie said...

I love your "photo heavy" posts! Especially when they are this fun and beautiful! I'm really glad you didn't hurt yourself (more) when you fell. I'm so clumsy and not a good hiker because of that.

Bucket list of Lansing, Michigan? Well, that's digging deep! I haven't yet been to our new museum of contemporary art, The Broad, so I would do that. Check out a couple of restaurants I haven't tried. I'd probably do a few road trips to some other museums in cities within good driving distance!

Marlys said...

Such a beautiful hike and the pictures were awesome! I am so glad you didn't get hurt from that fall, especially because you were alone! I can picture you laying there waiting for someone to help you up! But that is the "mother" in me! Glad it turned out for you!
There aren't any sites on my bucket list here but there are some sites in the state of ND that I would love to visit, especially in the western area. I have never been to Bullion Butte which your Dad just loves! The Bad Lands are such a beautiful area!

Stephany said...

The last time I was on a hike, I broke my ankle soooo I am not keen on hiking. Ha. Luckily, I was with people but there was still not much they could do & I had to keep hiking down on a bum ankle. Not a fun experience!

These pictures are soooo pretty! You got some really great shots.

On my bucket list if I ever leave Florida? Definitely spend some time at the beaches, visit Orlando at least once or twice possibly.

missris said...

Those photos are so beautiful! I'm glad you're getting to take advantage of all that nice hiking before you move :)

Nilsa @ SoMi Speaks said...

Love the photos of your hike. Sounds like a nice little adventure on a gorgeous spring day.

If I found out I was leaving Chicago, I'd probably check out a few restaurants I haven't yet been to, try to see some good theater shows and mostly spend as much time with my friends as possible.

Nora said...

Nine mile hike? You're awesome! Gorgeous photos and no, I don't mind the posts about hikes at all. Your blog, your life = what we like to read about =)

I did a hike when I was in Boulder, CO and at first it was kind of weird to be out there, in nature, but it was refreshing and lovely. And it helped that my bum was so sore the next day!

Leigh said...

You took some gorgeous shots! Looks like such a pretty area to go for a hike in too. You should come to AB and I'll take you to the mountains for a hike :)

Kelly (She Wears a Red Sox Cap) said...

Wow, I'm seriously impressed at all the beautiful things you have found in the past few weeks! :) The waterfalls are amazing!

Abby said...

I love all the cool stuff you're seeing before you leave. Then you can leave NC with a good memory.

This trail looks and sounds amazing!!!! That is awesome! And you did 9 miles?!? We need to get a pack on you and take you backpacking ;)

I always have issues crossing streams too. Ryan does it with great agility.....and I alway seem to fall.

Amber said...

That looks sooo pretty! Clearly the trails are well-maintained too - look at all those stairs! That's crazy!

I usually opt to trail run over hike but this past week Eric and I have gone out for two long hikes (on trails I would normally run) and it was really fun. You definitely take in your surroundings more when you're not running and focusing on your feet!

So glad you're able to fit in some of these experiences before you leave so even if your impression of Charlotte is tainted hopefully it will help change your impression (and some memories) of NC in general! It certainly is a gorgeous place!

Shoshanah said...

I've never seen those picnic meals before! But I do think they look adorable and delicious. I may need to keep an eye out for them myself!

Elizabeth said...

Beautiful---love both these other two hikes you posted. The views are incredible! So, so, so glad you were able to get out and do these great outings before you joyfully exited the state :)