Monday, August 12, 2013

Standing on Top of the World

Yesterday I was standing on top of the world...well at least Atlanta.

In our family's typical impromptu style we decided to make a spur of the moment trip to Atlanta for the weekend. One of our favorite places to go is Stone Mountain...and when you go to Stone Mountain you have to climb to the top.  So much for a Sunday of rest.

At exactly 12:00 noon the whole family began the long hike up to the top. If I remember correctly it was about 12:06 that my daughter began complaining about being hot and tired. I'm not surprised...but maybe noon wasn't the best time to start.

Ready to start.
Notice the smile and lack of sweat.
The path to the top of Stone Mountain is a little over 1 mile long and ascends 786 feet.  There are some areas that are just a (steeply) sloping incline...while other areas are covered in rocks that make you feel like you're climbing a terribly uneven flight of stairs.  It's quite the really gets your heat pumping.  That takes care of my cardio for the day!

There are always people on the path...even though we were crazy enough to go during the hottest part of the day. It's fun to watch people climbing up Stone Mountain, an I've decided they all fit into one of 5 categories:

The steepest part of Stone Mountain,
complete with handrails.  The woman in
the center was going up and down this
section over and over.
  1. The Naive Tourists.  Stone Mountain is just one of those places you need to visit when you visit Atlanta.  Most tourists don't know what their getting themselves into when they decide to make the climb.  You can easily pick them out of the crowd.  They are wearing normal clothes...they don't realize they are going to sweat.  A tourist will often bring along their purse (no matter how big)...because after all there are signs all over the parking lot not to leave valuables in the car.  They are often looking at each other, wondering how much further.  They will also not bring along any kind of snacks or drinks.  You will later see them at the top buying the $5 Icees.  There is also a good chance that a tourist will have random items like an iPad (yes, I actually say one.)
  2. The Return Visitors.  Our family fits in this category.  We've been to Stone Mountain several times, so we know what to expect.  We bring our Powerade, we dress to sweat, we wear our sturdy walking shoes.  (Unless, hypothetically, a mom forgets to bring tennis shoes for her daughter and the daughter is forced to walk all the way up and all the way down in flip-flops.  This is all hypothetical of course.)  Return visitors know how far it is to the tops, so they are not constantly asking, "Are we there yet?"  Well, except for the kids, but they will ask even going to they don't count.
  3. The Fitness Fanatic.  There are actually some people that use Stone Mountain for exercise.  Some walk it daily, some even run up and down.  They are easy to recognize because they are on a mission.  (Don't get in their way...some might run you over.  Just ask my son.)  They wear their running clothes and shoes.  They have their iPod and earbuds.  They are tracking their distance and speed on a Garmin.  Some wear hydration packs, but they all have water ready.  I have one comment to these people: just because you might go to the gym in tight, skimpy little outfits doesn't mean they are appropriate here.  There are young children on the mountain!  Thank you...this ends my rant.
  4. The Random Oddball.  I've learned that no mater where you go, when there is a large population of people (and sometimes small) there will always be one person that makes you ask, "WHAT?"  The same is true of Stone Mountain.  Yesterday seemed pretty normal, but I remember the last time we were there we saw a guy walking down slowly playing his guitar and singing.  There seems to always be at least one in every crowd.  Oh the joy of people watching.
  5. The Riders.  Besides the trail, there is one other way to get to the top of Stone Mountain...the tram.  These people don't want to have to walk to get to the top.  Some may not be able...some just choose not too.  If you purchase a Mountain Pass to do all the other fun activities the tram is there are some that don't see the point in walking if they've already paid to ride.  Riders are easy to spot because they seldom wander more that 100ft from the tram station, they're not breathing heavy and not covered in sweat.  Riders have smiles on their faces!
The tram...aka the smart person climbing method.
It probably took us about 45 minutes to make it to the top.  (I really should have brought my phone and used my running app to track everything...but I didn't have pockets and was afraid I'd shatter the glass.)  Of course there were several drink breaks, photo ops and, "I NEED to rest."  About half way up I realized my breakfast was sitting like a rock in the bottom of my stomach.  I guess that huge omelet for breakfast was not the smartest decision I made all day.  It reminded me of the episode from "The Office" where Michael eats fettuccine alfredo just moments before a 5k...except I wasn't puking. (If you haven't watched the Fun Run episode I highly recommend it.  It's season 4, episode one.)

The climb is hard and challenging, but the view from the top is worth it! Seeing the city of Atlanta all around is awe-inspiring.  Of course, knowing I have just conquered the mountain is a nice feeling too.  The occasional clouds and nice breeze didn't hurt either.  Did I mention there's also a building with air conditioning?  (And overpriced drinks...for those who didn't think ahead.)

On top of Stone Mountain...the city of Atlanta behind me.
After exploring for a few minutes it was time for us to head down...but that's no walk in the park either.  Coming down was less cardio, but it hurt my knees more that walking up.  There are lots of big steps down onto uneven surfaces.  It's what you might call a leg snapper type situation...especially for someone as clumsy as me.  I'm proud to say I only twisted my ankle once...and I was only out of commission for about a minute.  My daughter was happy to sit and rest with me in her flip-flops.  (Okay, so maybe that wasn't so hypothetical after all.)

By the time we reached the bottom we were worn out, and I was a big sweaty mess.  Good thing I brought along a full change of clothes, because there wasn't one thing on me that was dry.  I'm proud to say I earned my Climber's Certificate...even if they were just sitting out for anyone to take.  Of course, it's suitable for framing.  I know I earned it!

We drove around to the front of Stone Mountain, because what's the point of going if you don't even look at the carving.  Here is where I finished my exercise for the day...I planked on the lawn in front of the mountain while Stonewall Jackson, Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis look on.  A friend suggested I plank at the top, but I didn't get her text until we reached the bottom.  The granite at the top would have been too hard to plank on about some serious arm pain!   My husband has suggested that I should start planking all over the place...we'll just have to see.

I'd love to come back and camp at Stone Mountain, preferably in the fall.  There is a road that goes all the way around the base of the mountain, and it is always filled with runners and bikers.  There is also a wooded trail...great for hiking or trail running.  What a great place to run...randomly of course!

No comments:

Post a Comment