We finally made it to the most visited place in Georgia, and no, it’s not Ludacris’ house. Well, I guess it could be Luda’s house, but according to the official Georgia Tourism Center it’s Stone Mountain. So… they are probably wrong, but we went to Stone Mountain. Like any tourist-y type of thing I knew something about Stone Mountain before I went. I knew some things from what you hear by those who have visited, and I know some things from the locals, and well like any good attraction, those two things don’t mesh up very well.
I knew before we moved to Georgia, for instance, that Stone Mountain was a giant mountain made of stone. I had also heard most of the property surrounding the mountains itself (which is owned by the State of Georgia) is owned or operated by the same family who owns Silver Dollar City is in Branson, Missouri. That’s where we used to live. We lived there for ten years in fact, another fun, little tourist-y place that just doesn’t add up to the hype you hear about it. But I digress. Somewhere along the line that crazy family from Missouri bought property at Stone Mountain and turned it into a mini-amusement park, because Capitalism? Don’t ask me why the rich do what the rich do.
I’m digressing. We did Stone Mountain yesterday, but not the “fun” overpriced, tchotchke Stone Mountain, nay, we walked the face of the monadnock, all the way up to the summit nearly 1,700 feet above sea level, and we were rewarded with amazing views of Atlanta and the surrounding areas. We didn’t stay for the laser light show. We didn’t look at the the large rock-relif etched into the side (the largest bas-relief in the world), and we didn’t ask what they think happened to the latest of the missing hikers, or the woman who plummeted to her death a couple of years ago. We sorta just, you know, pretended to be tourists. (I even wore my LSU tank top which garnered many a “Geaux Tigers” from fellow hikers. Le sigh.)
The rock-relief on it’s north face, if you’re wondering, is of three Confederate generals: Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, and Stonewall Jackson. Maybe Stonewall’s name is what gave them the idea to carve it in 1916 (it wasn’t actually completed until 1972, because we do things slow in Georgia, okaaaaay). But like most things southern, it soon became hallowed ground for the KKK and other racist pieces-of-shit about town. (Ironically, the part of town that Stone Mountain is in is predominantly black. Which makes a lot of the ahem, more white of the tourists, a bit nervous.) I wish I were making this shit up.
So Jerimiah, Jackson, and I hiked the 1.3 miles up the mountain and the 1.3 miles back down yesterday morning. (In my opinion, the walk down was worse. It worked my thighs, which are not strong. Meanwhile, Jerimiah did not like the hike up which was a lot of cardio and worked the calves. To each their own.) This was after a fifteen minute walk to the park because we parked at the visitor center and walked over. Hiking the mountain is free of course, so long as you pay the $20 to park in the parking lot. So a lot of locals either pay $40 for a yearly parking pass, or park somewhere nearby and walk in. We went with the “free” parking yesterday because we weren’t sure what to expect.
We didn’t take Duke because we checked ahead and it said that dogs can’t climb the mountain. But that didn’t stop people from taking their dogs (because people are horrible) and one pot-bellied pig, of which we passed on the way up and Jackson legit stopped in his tracks and said, “What the…?” while pointing to the pig, whose tiny legs were working hard behind his mom and dad. He was also not on a leash, though he had on a little fashion collar, it was, well, exactly what you would expect to see on a giant rock mountain, on Labor Day Weekend, in the middle of Georgia. Honestly, if I hadn’t seen a pot-bellied pig hiking the mountain, or at least three drunk grandpas, I would have worried.
Anyhoo, the walk up was more rough than we anticipated. In fact, we had to make several stops. Jerimiah thought he might throw-up, and Jackson said on multiple occasions that we were probably all gonna die. The worst part was the “handrail” action, about 3/4 the way up. It gets very steep for a small section and they have mounted a handrail into the mountain to help you along. For awhile I was moving, but like, not really going anywhere, if that makes sense. Yeah. It was rough for us, meanwhile, my son ran up to the top. Other people were like, uh, how do I say this, jogging up the face of the mountain? So, maybe just get yourself into a bit of shape before attempting this. Of course, if you want to get to the summit you can take the gondola, but just know that I will make mad fun of you when you do.
Buuuut, remember when I said we were rewarded at the top?
Awesome views, cool breezes, the feeling of being in the clouds, and the Summit Snackbar, which has bathrooms, free water fountains, and in Jackson’s case, frozen chocolate bananas to get you back to optimal health.
One of the coolest features about the summit are these ponds that form throughout the year. In the winter and spring the rain catches in these holes (not the scientific term, I’m sure) and by the start of summer there are fish in them. You can see Jackson on the stones of one of the bigger ponds in the picture. Jackson asked how the fish got in there and Jerimiah started to explain evolution to him, and that’s when it hit me that it might be hard to visit Stone Mountain if you are one of those “Earth is only 6,000 years old” and “evolution is not real” people. #EekFace But at least you will be rewarded at the bottom with a rock-relief of some of your heroes. I assume.
So the long and the short of it is this: If you ever find yourself in my neck of the woods (we live about ten minutes from Stone Mountain, GA) and you like a fun adventure that involves scaling rocks, possibly breaking one or both of your legs, and feeling like you are in the clouds, then please go and hike Stone Mountain! We will even go with you! But not too late in the day, or too early in the morning, that’s when people die and get robbed. (Shhh, they don’t like to tell tourists that!) And if you want us to stay for the laser light show we will, but please know that I have trained my son to scream, “Wicked d-bag, assholes!” (in a Boston accent) at any depiction of Confederate generals. So, there’s that.
Love you guys, and I really did love my hike up the giant monadnock in the sky, but next time, Luda’s house.