First hike of 2016

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Just a few days into the new year, I decided to go for a hike. Naturally, I brought Gauss along. We visited the nearby Arabia Mountain. I’ve been to the Arabia Mountain Nature Preserve before, with my dad. We started there and rode to Panola State Park, where I climbed a beautiful southern red oak a few months ago. However, this trip was the first time I’ve been hiking at Arabia Mountain!

The nature preserve has several small trails that you can link together to make a longer hike. I started at the visitor’s/nature center. It took a little bit for me to orient myself, but soon Gauss and I were off to the Klondike Boardwalk.

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The boardwalk follows along Klondike Road. It provides some pretty views of the granite landscape of Arabia Mountain. I particularly liked this section because I had the whole boardwalk to myself!

At the end of the boardwalk is another parking lot for the nature preserve, the closest one for the Mountain Top trail. However, this parking lot is very small and was jam packed with cars.  If you plan on visiting Arabia mountain and don’t mind adding a bit to your walk, I’d suggest parking at the nature center and walking down the boardwalk to reach the Mountain Top trailhead.

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The Mountain Top trail goes just where you’d expect, to the top of Arabia Mountain. This trail is marked by cement and stone cairns. It was kind of fun to play “spot the cairn” to  find your way through the granite landscape.

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The first bit of the trail is pretty flat. You can see evidence that this area once used for mining granite. There is a section when the rock is cut away recantular like. To me it looks like the perfect rock chair. If you look closely you can see the drill holes where they inserted explosives for mining.

After a little while, I spotted a blue painted dash on one of the cairns. I thought that meant that I was supposed to follow the blue dashes the rest of the way to the summit. Turns out, that is not the case.  A couple hundred feet down the trail I saw people walking up the mountain to my left, whereas the trail I was following seemed to go around the base of the mountain.  That’s when I realized my mistake and backtracked to the first blue dash. Through some trees of to the left I saw another cairn.

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The cairns led straight up the mountain. The trail reminded me of Stone Mountain, but not quite a steep. It had rained recently, so all over the mountain were pools of water. Some were little, some were not so little, which made picking a dry path difficult at times. The last cairn was farther from the top of the mountain that I expected. At first I wasn’t sure if I actually reached the top, until I found the little circle that marks the highest elevation (at least, I’m pretty sure that’s what it means).

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Gauss and I had fun playing with my new selfie stick. I got it to work this time. Summit selfie!

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It was super windy at the top; we didn’t stay very long. Back down the mountain we went, to follow the blue dashes that misled me before. The blue blazed Mountain View trail follows around the base of Arabia Mountain and around Mountain Lake.

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Along the way, there were fun boulders to climb on. The blue blazes marking the path were tricksy. There were a couple of times where I lost the dashes and had to backtrack. Once, there wasn’t even a blue blaze, there were a couple of blue zip ties on a bush to mark the path! Nonetheless, I made it all the way around the lake.

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Traveling around the lake provided some pretty views. The loop deposited me back at the granite “chair.” From there, Gauss and I walked back down the Klondike Boardwalk to the trailhead. Arabia Mountain was a wonderful hike to begin the new year.

 

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