This weekend my husband and I had the opportunity to attend a retreat at the lovely Atlanta Evergreen Conference Resort located in the Stone Mountain Park near Atlanta Georgia. The focus of the retreat was effective communication within families, and the Good Lord knows that we could ALL use a bit of reflection on the ways we communicate, or fail to communicate, with our spouse and children.
After a morning of “fun” learning and a few “eye-openers,” we set out to enjoy the beauty of the park and to climb Stone Mountain. Now there is a high-speed cable car that can ferry you in relative comfort to the top, but we decided eschew comfort for adventure and hike the mile-long trek to the summit IN 90 DEGREE WEATHER.
Stone Mountain is unusual to say the least. A large, lone, mostly bald, quartz monzonite dome rising over 800 feet above the surrounding landscape . An island mountain, inselberg, in the middle of Georgia.
The climb to the top is steep, a truly American trail, cutting the shortest route to the top, devoid of zigs or zags or gradual inclines to slow the pace. And while there may be a blessed breeze from time to time, even under an overcast sky the climb is arduous. Jagged in some places, smooth and slippery in others, and at one point straight up with only a slender handrail to assist your sweat-wet hands propel you forward. But the climb to the top was worth the physical effort because you are greeted with a gorgeous view of the land below and the Atlanta sky-rise in the distance.
Granted, I could have come by this grand view the easy way, riding to the top, but I would have missed out on the many small treasures of the trek, like the beautiful trees growing right out of the rock, roots twisted between the crags and crevices. Bullises, a very old name for dark-fruited muscadines, growing wild along the trail, that I stopped, collected, and ate, sharing them with other families along the way. A childhood memory in a taste, a reminder of my grandmother and days in the wood. Persimmons, not yet ripe, and the ever-elusive “Atlanta Gum Tree”- chewed-gum laden power poles dotting the trail, a yucky reminder of the many people who’ve made the trek before me.
After the climb, we were hot, tired and STIFF! We decided to forego the laser show and spend a quite evening dining at the resort’s restaurant and relaxing on our balcony overlooking the pool. There are so many activities that Stone Mountain Park has to offer families, as seen on the website www.stonemountainpark.com and we will definitely be returning with our children to enjoy them all. But this weekend was about focusing on ourselves, and focus requires quietude. And, at least for me, there is nothing more settling than walking, or climbing, in nature.