Hike 1
Rocktown Hike 1 -- March 13, 2011
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Ever since my friend Lizz told me about a place called Rocktown to hike in North Georgia that she had visited
with her son while he was rock climbing with his friends, I knew that I wanted to see this place –
up close and in person.

Well, the day had finally arrived for me to visit Rocktown. We met up at my house and after getting all set to
go, we headed out for a quick breakfast before heading up I-75 towards the mountains. When we reached the
turn off exit for Lafayette, GA, we made a final pit stop for us and for Lola.

Lizz brought her dog Lola with her and she was all set to go hiking. She hikes and runs with Lizz a lot so she
knew she was going on an adventure. Lola is a “rescue” dog that was just a tiny puppy when Lizz took possession
of her. Now full grown, the half Akita/Shepherd dog is a beautiful, loving, but formidable companion for Lizz
to have with her while she hikes and runs alone.

Take my word for it – no one and I mean no one -- will ever bother Lizz as long as Lola is close by.

As we left I-75 and headed west across the land towards Lafayette and beyond to Pigeon Mountain where
Rocktown is located, we were immediately reminded of the challenges posed by the Ridge and Valley landscape
on travelers – whether by wagon or by car.

We had to drive, make that weave back and forth, up and over one ridge line after another. I can only imagine
what earlier settlers thought and had to face -- the awesome physical effort -- it must have taken to forge a
path to the new lands beyond the ridges.

Anyway, we made our way past Lafayette and soon Pigeon Mountain – the long flat topped plateau ridge that we
were header for -- loomed above the beautiful flat valley floor that we were crossing.  Soon, we arrived at the
gravel road that led up to the top of the mountain and within minutes, we were riding along on a hard-packed
gravel road that looked like it had been chiseled out of the side of the mountain as it switched
back and forth to get higher and higher up the side of the mountain.

We had the windows down and Lola had moved from the back of my Suburban all the way up the seat behind Lizz
and sat there with her head out the window taking in all the smells and enjoying the breeze across her face.
I think she would do it even if you were going 100 miles and hour – she loves it so.

We found our turn-off at the top of the mountain and about a mile away at the end of a bouncing gravel road we
reached the parking lot for Rocktown. It was only about 10:45 in the morning but the lot was already packed
with cars so we had to park up on the shoulder of the gravel road. The road had a fairly deep cut rock-lined
trench on each side to control rain run off.  With my high-clearance vehicle, it was easy for me get
across but we sawmore than one car just about get hung up trying to get across it to park.

Soon, we had Lola on her leash and our backpacks on and we were off. I checked to make sure my SPOT unit
(Satellite Personal Tracker) was still working. It had been tracking us ever since we had left my house that
morning – sending a coded message to the SPOT tracking satellite every 10 minutes and giving it our exact
location. I love this device – especially since it communicates with the outside world via satellites
versus cell phone coverage and I can press the 911 button in case of a real emergency
and help will be dispatched to my exact location.

By the way, after we got back home later in the day, I went out to the SPOT website to see on my page
(associated with my registered SPOT device) a map that showed where we were (had been) all day long. What is
neat about this is Deanna can sit at the computer at home while I am hundreds of miles away hiking and
can see and know exactly where I am at all times.

What a minute … maybe I need to rethink this (giving her permission to see the tracking page)! : -)

The trail to Rocktown is about one mile in length and is really not hard to walk. It starts off with a slight
increase in elevation but after a short time, it levels off. On this first part of the trail, you can walk in the
middle of the trail, which looks almost like a badly eroded road bed, but it is wet in places and it had logs across
it (erosion control) about every 50 feet so it is also like walking up a long series of steps.

Lizz said that when it rains here, this part of the trail is like a river and you would not want to be trying to walk
there. Thankfully, there is another unofficial trail up on high ground that visitors to the area have created
close by that parallels the main trail so all is good.

I could not believe how many people were already in the woods so to speak. We had passed several campsites on
the drive up the mountain that were jammed full of young people and the trails were busy with people also. What
was strange to me was seeing them all carrying these huge folded up pads --
maybe 8-10 inched thick, 4 feet wide, and maybe 6-8 feet long.

The climbers use these to break their falls if they slip while climbing. I should explain that the main type of
climbing here at Rocktown is not scaling some 50-100 ft high rock wall but rather, clinging to rock faces, walls,
that slope BACKWARDS over their heads and maybe at the highest point, they are
only 10-20 feet above the ground.

The can actually grip the rock surface with their bare hands tight enough to hold on while their body is
suspended down from the rock overhand above them. I could not imagine the strength that it took for
these kids to do this.  

Anyway, it looked so funny to follow one of these climbers as they hiked towards Rocktown. All you could
see was this huge pad thing moving along the trail with two tiny legs showing at the bottom. All I could think
of was that I was watching SpongeBob SquarePants skipping along the trail with us.  

We were starting to see rock formations around us but Lizz kept saying,
“Just wait until we get to the end of the trail!”

We came up on one rock formation that looked exactly like a giant stone animal was leaning up against a tree and
asleep with this silly grin on his face. I was really beginning to like this place – sleeping stone creatures and all.