Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Manadnock Madness

Ms. Arcen proudly salutes at 1,625ft(495m) on the true summit of Crowders. Sunday Ms. Arcen, Zoo die Volk and I decided to head over to Crowders Mountain in southern Gaston County for some outside time. For those of you not familiar with Crowders Mountain, it is really a manadnock that rises from roughly 800ft above sea level at the parking lot some 800 feet up to its summit at 1,625ft. As far as manadnocks go I have to say that Crowders is on Bill Fehr's top ten list. We stepped off on our upward walk out the backside trail at just about noon. Twenty five minutes later we were at the base of the stairs looking at a solid ice slab on the left hand side of the trail. Ms. Arcen and Zoo-Zoo both seemed side tracked by this unique solitary piece of ice that was about 4 feet wide by about 8 feet long. In spots the lump of naturally frozen funneled rainfall was around 10" thick and crystal clear all the way to the ground. It looked strangely out of place, like the water source was flowing thick and then the temps dropped significantly enough to freeze it solid in no time. We marched on up the 336 stairs to the summit. The Jar was clearly visible but more impressive was the huge steam cloud being released south of the buildings from the Catawba Nuclear 'Generating Station' down on a peninsula surrounded on three sides by lake Wylie.

Ms. Arcen prepares Zoo at the start of the hike.
Big Ice slab.
Up some 336 stairs near the top.
Sitting on the crest we snacked a bit of Kiwifruit, Banana and water while two regional climbers dropped a top rope line over the Burnt Crack of the main wall. The kid seemed interested in their efforts and asked a few questions while I talked about mountains and Sr. Reyes. After both climbers went down on the rope, one by a self belay or abseil and the other by a traditional figure 8 rappel we headed out along the ridge for the Balcony wall on the far north east end of the mountain. Ms. Arcen had made summit on this hill a half dozen times before but this was the first time that she had attempted to move along the sometimes treacherous ridge route. A feeling of strength in her was apparent. Some of the ledge work is a little spooky before you get to David's Castle Wall. On the outside line there are several drops straight down 6ft or so onto a ledge that at times is only a few feet wide, then the sloping abyss several hundred feet bottomward to the tops of the trees on the floor below. Ms. Arcen did great and most importantly she listened carefully to my voice directing her through the dragon's teeth.

Near the summit Ms. Arcen points out the apparent curvature of the earth's horizon.
I could not help but notice this steam release from the Catawba Nuclear Generating Station.
Through the crags.
Cave exploration from the heart.
Down one of the 6 foot steeps I passed the camera to Ms. Arcen so that I could have free hands to portage the Husky and without my prompting she started documenting the effort.
The kid has an eye and after over a year of traveling with me the dog finally showed fear of something.
Fortress Wall right above the kid and dog facing you with Gumby's roof right around the corner.
Up this little fall on the left by the center evergreen tree there is a lateral crack in the backside of the Balcony Wall.
Through that crack for a few feet and then you are on this tiny little ledge looking over the Balcony towards the mountains in the distance.
Across the top back for the summit.
Up the same 6 foot steep that I portaged the dog down.
Where this rock chunk fell made for an interesting little investigation by both child and canine.
Back down the 336 stairs.
These few fleeting hours out in Gaston County were really special to me and my relationship with Ms. Arcen and Mein Volk. As always I am proud of the way that she interacts with her surroundings and I am happy to have these types of experiences with her.


Doug said...

truely a wonderful hike indeed - nice bonding time with the little one also! looks like you had to do the "dog-portage" the same place we did a couple weeks ago - "the spy", myself, another couple and our dogs went down to Crowder's on New Year's Day for a day-hike and to expercise the four-legged ones :)

Liz said...

lovely photos and words - you are the best dad i know... and i know a few... you are also a hell of a good good writer... what a yummy day this must have been for both of you!

Billy Fehr said...

Doug..Nothing like a little 'dog portage' eh??
Thank you for the kind words and observations...I am glad to know that you are checking in!!