This morning, I took a long walk at Stone Mountain Park. It's hard to believe I've lived in Atlanta for nearly 10 years and haven't visited the park. Shame on me! There are several paid attractions that don't hold any interest for me. You can visit the website for that. I was just there for the trails. My new neighborhood isn't the best place for walking. I figured that if I'm going to have to drive to a good walking area, it might as well be a place with bathrooms. My friend, Greg Luffey, is an ultra-runner living in New Mexico. He loves to run in wild places. I'm not sure you could pay him enough to live in a city. Still, if you forced him to live in Atlanta, I suspect he would enjoy running up, down, and all around Stone Mountain Park.
What a great place to walk! According to the website, Stone Mountain Park has 15 miles of trails, so I guess I walked about 1/3 of the trails that were available. Also, the bike path I used to walk from downtown Decatur connects with Stone Mountain. If I ever feel like going for an extremely long walk, I can add a detour to Decatur…8 miles to downtown Decatur and 8 miles back!
My 4.7 mile trek was enough for today. I just recovered from a cold, so I'm not at full strength, and the trail I chose would have challenged me even if I was at 100%. I began walking the sidewalk around the perimeter. I walked about a mile before I found the Cherokee Trail. It started off easy enough, but the next thing I knew, I was climbing over Stone Mountain, scrambling over granite. What was originally a clearly marked path was now a mountain goat trail. The only thing that kept me pointed in the right direction was a series of white hashmarks that highlighted the trail. My walking pace was a respectable 15:30 per mile while I was walking the easy trails. I sometimes slowed to 25:00 per mile as I was picking my way across the granite. The pace was slow, but my heart sure was pumping. I've read that trail runners are wise to ignore their pace and just keep track of the total time spent running. Now I see why. When I looked at my Garmin and saw that my 25:00 pace, I could only laugh.
|Stone Mountain as I saw it this morning.|
|Stone Mountain, all lit up.|
I bought an annual parking pass. It was a no brainer. It costs $10 to park for a single day, and $35 for the entire year. I plan on hitting Stone Mountain Park at least once a week. It'll give me a break from the stationary bike and give me something to look forward to. I'm already planning my next route.