Saturday, December 30, 2023

Arabia Mountain

On Thursday before the weather turned cold we headed out on another hike, this time to Arabia Mountain, a large granite mountain in the Lithonia area that used to serve as a quarry. It's no wonder that Lithonia was named, as it was, after rocks. It's a very rocky area (pity we didn't get to visit while Rachel was in her geology class)! The etymology of Arabia Mountain is not well-recorded, but the consensus seems to be because the quarry workers used to complain about things being "as hot as Arabia" while they were cutting granite in the summer. 

Having been hiking in Southern Utah, I can imagine how hot it gets when the sun starts beating down on all that exposed rock. We'd like to return later this year, perhaps when the diamorpha are blooming, but I don't think we'd consider this hike in the summer!

Here's Miriam at the start of the hike, in front of one of the little pools:

The hike is fairly open for exploration, but you're not supposed to step in any of the pools where the diamorpha grow (and need to be mindful even of the dried recesses that may be harbouring hibernating seeds). Here we are picking our way through a section to the next trail marker.

Some of the little pools are quite beautiful.

Here's Patrick and Andrew walking along together:

These are all diamorpha, an endangered plant that is found mostly in  Georgia. It's inactive now but should bloom in March or so.

Here's Alexander with the crest of the mountain behind him:

He was my little hiking buddy.

Here's Andrew and Phoebe:

When Reid and Karen lived in Durham, Karen sometimes felt smothered by the trees that loomed above her everywhere she looked. She had grown up in the deserts of Arizona and was used to a wide, open sky. I remember that there was a place she would go to rise above the trees and drink in the sky (I can't remember what the place was—was it what my kids called "the pickle tower"?). 

I appreciate trees, I love being surrounded by green. My early childhood was forged in the forest. 

But, as a prairie girl, I also appreciate an uninterrupted view of the heavens—and that truly can be a difficult thing to find in the south.

Here's a picture of me with Patrick:

Here we all are at the top of the mountain:

"We did it!" I announced. "We've reached the summit!"

"I think it's actually taller over here," Andrew said.

"I'm pretty sure the summit is right here."

"I'm pretty sure it's taller over here."

"Alexander is literally standing on the survey marker," Patrick pointed out.

"Okay, then!" Andrew said. "We've reached the summit!"

Here's everybody (Miriam, Alexander, Benjamin, Rachel, Zoë, and Uncle Patrick) touching the survey marker:

Here you can see Zoë and Benjamin racing ahead on the trail.

And here they are looking down at the lake:

Benjamin was certainly the one leading the way on this excursion:

Phoebe was excited to be let out to walk on her own. I reminded her of the rules, that she could walk on the grey rocks but that she couldn't disturb any of the puddles—and that she must take things very seriously (she loves puddles so this was a difficult thing for her to agree to) otherwise she'd have to go back into the backpack. 

"Remember," I said. "We have to step over puddles, not in them."

For some reason the consonant cluster /st/ was a little difficult for her that afternoon, and so she chose to substitute the /st/ with a /w/.

"Wapever," she agreed, toddling off. 

"Did she just say 'whatever'?!" Grandpa chuckled, alarmed (and charmed) by her flippancy. 

"Wapever, wapever, wapever," she repeated as she stumbled along (inclines are difficult for her). 

"No," I laughed. "She's saying 'step over.'"

This is just a picture I thought was neat because the water was flowing down the mountain and straight into this crack in the ground:

There were several little waterfalls in this area above the lake. Phoebe called them "water mountain!"

Here are the little kids climbing on a big rock:

And here's everyone in front of the lake (aptly called "Mountain Lake"):

From the lake we walked up to the quarry area.

Here's Alexander not being my hiking buddy:

The kids really wanted to visit this rock rising out of the ground that they dubbed "demon's tower" (since it's smaller than "Devil's Tower"):

Here are Zoë, Benjamin, and Alexander on a big outcropping of granite:

Zoë wasn't sure whether it was a rock or whether it was a building because it showed clear signs of human development (and yet she couldn't find the entrance to the building).

So I explained that we were at the quarry, where people would harvest slabs of granite and showed her where there was evidence of the tools used to split the granite in another rock. Metal spikes were driven in to cleft the rock into manageable (movable) chunks:

The lines she was seeing on the rock were likely from spikes that were used years ago.

Here's Alexander skipping through some sort of meditation labyrinth someone spent a long time making:

And here are the kids running up and down these slabs of granite yelling, "Parkour! Parkour! Parkour!"

Here we are making our way back to the summit:

The kids thought it was funny to pretend they were breaking the ground apart when they came across a big crack in the ground:

We'll certainly try to return in the spring when things are blooming!

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