ROARING RIVER — May 23 at 10:15 a.m., Stone Mountain Park visitors center, under beautiful blue skies, 18 daring souls with a dream in their hearts began a 24-mile trek along the Mountains to the Sea trail to Elkin.
Eight miles into the trek was the first oasis where Tripplett’s Grocery provided a late lunch and refreshments coming just in time for the 800-foot climb up Wells Knob.
By the time the last hikers arrived at the first night’s camping spot, supper, courtesy of Speedy Chef, had been delivered, devoured, and delightful entertainment had begun. Said entertainment was furnished by one, Bill Blackley, discussing his experiences with a strange arboreal marsupial species known as possums. He interjected spirited renditions of musical favorites on one of three mouth organs (harmonicas).
Sunday at 8:15 a.m. the group was out early for the second leg of the journey. Highlights included a visit to Carter Falls and the “Enchanted White Pine Forest.” Lunch was at Adagio’s vineyard tasting room then pressing on, the group trail blazed its way to the big Elkin Creek.
Just after passing under the future site of the “second bridge,” the intrepid hikers were forced to make a refreshing ford of the creek to join the Elkin Alleghany Rail Trail into the park.
By 2:30, with smiles on their faces and 24 more miles on their boots, the hikers were already talking of a second “Stone Mountain Challenge” next year.