hanging rock part 2 – the more conventional side of things.

we got to hanging rock on friday afternoon, pitched camp, ate dinner, then proceeded to get lost in the woods for the next several hours. after we finally found our way onto a road and back to our camp it was pretty late, so we gave up on any planned expeditions for the night. saturday morning we woke up, got ourselves a trail map, and mapped out where we decided we’d go for the day. hanging rock is small by comparison to the mountains, but large enough that you’d need several days to see it all. geoff and i both wanted to go back to window falls and hidden falls, a beautiful back trail that leads you to gorgeous rocks and small but impressive waterfalls. we had visited it last time we were at hanging rock but wanted to see it again.

we then decided we wanted to see tory’s den and falls near the other side of the park. this part of the park was much more secluded and had little people on the trails. the waterfall wasn’t as impressive, but there was a sweet cave (tory’s den) that just reminded me of all the creepy things that are living in the woods i’m tromping through. on the way back from tory’s den and falls we passed a sign for the lower cascade falls. since there is an upper cascade falls also in the park, geoff concluded that the lower cascade falls would be “lame” and that we should naturally bypass the lamest cascade falls for the obviously superior upper cascade falls.

i said that since we were on that side of the park we might as well walk down the really short trail to go see it anyway. we did, and it was probably the most breathtaking part of the entire park besides the actual hanging rock. after you walk down a long path, you get led to a large set of stone stairs. you come out in a small clearing of rock and look out into kind of a mini cave, complete with waterfall and small pool. this was taken during the .5 seconds where all of the small children and ambitious adults somehow cleared out of my lens:

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some of the kids venture back in:

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it was awesome… and when i go back, i will bring my bathing suit. the lower cascades is where the party is! don’t let your significant other tell you that they’ll be “lame” just because there are upper falls. we never did make it to the upper falls because we spent too much time at the lower. :)

also, there are a billion salamanders all over the place at hanging rock. unfortunately a lot of them get run over or stepped on because they’re so small. we walked a lot of trails and walked a lot of road and i would always get really excited to see a salamander… only to realize it was a squished one. :| here’s one i found that a.) didn’t immediately run away from me and b.) wasn’t squished. horray!

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in addition to him, we saw deer, giant moths, spiders that glowed like weird gems in the dark when you shined your head lamp at them, lizards, walking sticks, the fattest toads i have ever seen, all sorts of creepy spiders, and a large copperhead that geoff stumbled upon saying, “wait, is that snake alive? YES YES IT IS.”

we had done a lot of hiking that morning and decided to head back to camp to take a nap and eat. afterwards we woke up and hiked to the top of hanging rock. it is a long hike… although approximatley 1.3 miles, it is almost entirely uphill. and we’re not talking the gradual incline of most trails, we’re talking uphill. it is difficult and by the time you reach the top you are just happy you didn’t have a heart attack along the way.

hanging rock is a giant cliff (think lion king‘s pride rock) that overlooks the park, sauratown mountains, and also several miles away (you can see downtown winston salem). the rock sticks out from the earth 200 feet and is situated 2,145 feet in the air. it is a relatively skinny rock and you have the unmistakable feeling that you will trip and slide until you eventually fall off one of the sides to your untimely death. but it is the best view ever. we went up late afternoon, stayed for the sunset and into the darkness to watch the stars come out. it was a little bit cloudy, but it made for some cool sunset pictures.

sitting on the rock, looking to my left:

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several minutes later, the sunset to my right:

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no blogging tomorrow due to several appointments in the afternoon and my trash the dress session – finally! photographs from that will be up relatively soon… i already can’t wait to see them. :) have a good friday everyone.

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