During our trip to Atlanta, Georgia, we visited Stone Mountain. I have visited it before. When I was 9 years old, my family visited relatives in Atlanta, and Aunty Pam took us to Stone Mountain. I remember that there were deer (which must have been very tame, as there are photographs of me trying to stroke them) and that we went for a trip in a paddle steamer, the Robert E. Lee, across the lake in Stone Mountain Park. I cannot remember whether or not we walked up the mountain.
This time however, I was travelling with Husband and there were no handy children to accompany him up the mountain, so I decided that I must ignore my general fear of heights and walk up with him. Sort of wifely duty. We arrived in October, so there was an area set out as a children’s pumpkin/Halloween activity. We avoided that, and I could see Husband was wondering why, exactly, I had suggested that we visit the mountain. But it’s a good mountain, a sort of odd one, because it is really a giant pebble just sort of thrown there and completely out of place with the rest of the area. In the park below, as well as a pumpkin trail if you visit during October, there are some 1793 buildings (which might be of more interest).
We parked the car, and began to walk.
Stone Mountain is the world’s largest piece of exposed granite (like I said, a giant pebble). For the geologists amongst you, it is actually a quartz dome monadnock which rises to 1,686 feet above sea level and is 825 feet high. In 1958 the State of Georgia bought it (not sure who they bought it from, or how much they paid) and the Civil War generals have been etched on one side.
You can still see giant carvings of Robert E. Lee (who the paddle steamer was named after) and Stonewall Jackson, and President Jefferson Davis. They are dirtier than when I visited when I was 9. They also are the source of much controversy, which came to a head after the racial shootings in Charleston in 2017 (when people in a black church were shot). The people etched on the side, as leaders of the Confederates, were also fighting to retain slavery. Many people think that all Confederate monuments should be destroyed (in this case, it would take a year of blasting the images from the mountain). Other people think that it is part of history, and should remain. Plus, of course, it’s a popular tourist attraction. I think, as a tourist from another country, I probably have no right to comment—but I preferred the monument when I was 9 years old, and it was simply an engraving of giant men.
Instead, I shall describe our walk up the mountain, as this is firmly etched into my mind as a never-to-be-repeated experience.
The walk started pleasantly enough. The park has helpfully painted lines on the mountain for hikers to follow, and the slope was gradual, up through pine trees, past some flags. It’s not an overly long walk, and all was fine until the very last section, when there are bars to cling on to, and you sort of haul yourself up to the peak. It was so far out of my comfort zone—a near-scrabble up towards the end, a concentrate on not looking down, or sideways, and don’t think about the stumble-sliding bone-crashing slide that awaits a slip on the shiny rock. Just walk—step, then step, then giant step—right to the top. Ignore the shaking legs, the ‘what if I slip?’ the ‘how will I get down?’ Just keep walking, forwards, to the cafe at the top, to a seat, where I can drink a coke. . .
Husband kept suggesting poses for potential photos, but I was concentrating too hard on not dying. The walk down was, of course, more difficult. I adjusted my cap, so that I could literally only see one foot ahead, and then I followed Husband, very closely, back down to where it was safe. We didn’t die.
There are, I am told, amazing views of the city from the top. There is also a cable-car if you don’t fancy walking/scrabbling to the top.
We then set off to find the paddle-steamer I had been on as a child. Husband reminded me that I am now quite old, and the steamer was probably long gone—so I was delighted when I saw it, hidden behind some trees. It was being refitted, for a Netflix series (Ozark) and there was a film crew building a casino set. But I was glad I had found it.
I hope you have a safe day. Thank you for reading.
Love, Anne x
Thank you for reading. If you enjoy my travel blogs, you will love my travel book: The Sarcastic Mother’s Holiday Diary. Available from an Amazon near you.
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A very honest , and up to date, account of Stone Mountain . . . 🙂