P bought this book, 60 hikes within 60 miles of Atlanta, and I must admit I was a little skeptical. Honestly, I’m not used to moving at the pace of my hiking boots, i prefer wheels, but I’d forgotten how much there is to see on a real, down-to-earth hike.
The shape of our hike was “2 connected loops” or something like that, as opposed to the “loop” or “there and back” forms of others in the book. Indeed it was and my only complaint with the book was that despite its detailed descriptions, “take the wide sandy path that veers off to the right after the bridge,” we got off track because the maps were incredibly lacking in information. I’m sorry, but the shape of our path on a gray background just does not help me figure out where i am. That aside, we got quite a kick out of the narrative which directed us to stand at the top of Bradley Mtn, face Arabia (that white rise over there) and look downhill to our left, see those 2 trees? (out of a forest) head toward them and you’ll find a low box with glass over the top (and writing inside that tells you about the flora of the area, aka, an exhibit? or sign??); however, if you don’t see the 2 trees, don’t worry, just head down to the treeline and walk along it until you see something that looks like a path through the woods and take it. The book had a good philosophy—”don’t worry too much”—after all, while there was good chance of not making it to all the points you intended to, there was very little chance of actually getting lost in this area. At any rate, we did find the “low box with glass on top” and a path that led us to cross the road eventually, we did make it to the quarry house (albeit by a different route) and the little lake. P even found the loblolly pine the book pointed to with some interest at the bottom end of the lake, when i asked what it was like (i failed to notice it, too busy looking at the moss) he merely indicated all the other pines that we were walking through.
But what there was to see! We covered a little over 5 miles and the day was gorgeous for it. I think i even got a little sunburned. Besides all the pine trees, there was thick green moss in the forests, clover-like lily pads in the lake, and dried moss (at least 3 kinds of fungi/moss) on the rock surfaces. We began and ended on the rocky monadnock(s) of Bradley and Arabia Mtn. A monadnock is an isolated hill or lone mountain that has risen above the surrounding area usually by erosion (wiki). Stone Mountain is, of course, Georgia’s prize monadnock, a prominent dome of quartz monzonite, granite, and granodiorite (trust wikipedia). Arabia mountain is not so prominent, it’s surface has been carved up by excavators and it’s height is such that it is mostly hidden by the surrounding trees. The vast sheets of rock occur throughout the region however and are particularly intriguing to one who comes from a state with no true rock whatsoever (sandstone, a mere sedimentary rock, not included). Yes, these monadnocks (Kennesaw mountain being another in the Atlanta area) formed most likely by the eroding away of softer sedimentary rocks like limestone and shale, leaving the more resistant, volcanically-formed igneous rock standing alone. That’s the end of your geology lesson for the day though.
The rocky plains made for an industrial-looking site which still bore the marks of, well, industrialism. Most interesting were the hunks of granite already perforated for breaking into blocks, but abandoned when, I suppose the conservation area was formed. Looking around the top of Arabia mountain at this stepped landscape does make you wonder HOW much higher the peak used to be…