Monday, August 29, 2011

Arabia Mountain

A month or so back, while riding the Arabia Mountain Trail, the girls, their friend Madison and I discovered the Davidson-Arabia Mountain Nature Preserve and Atlanta Wild Animal Rescue Effort. We had other plans that day but we vowed to return and take a tour of the animal rescue center and explore the hiking trails. Today the four of us did just that.

Most animals that come through the rescue center are rehabilitated and released back into the wild after they're given some tests. The few that fail end up being permanent residents and become part of the tour. Unfortunately we didn't get to see all of the animals at the rescue center. It was just my luck. Most of them were out at a fair or something at Haynes Creek, but the ones that were there were still pretty interesting.

They had a red tailed hawk that survived a shattered pelvis but now lacks the strength to grab its prey.

 Red Tailed Hawk

They also had a bobcat that was as tame as a house cat and a bard owl with an eye infection. As it turned out, we'd actually seen the rest of the animals the last time except for a skunk. Apparently it's safe to let a skunk just run around, they stamp their feet and give you plenty of warning before they're going to spray. Who knew?

Last time, we'd seen an really sweet little opossum which, as it turned out, had died the day before. It made the lady giving us the tour noticeably sad to talk about it and we felt lucky to have seen it the last time.

They let us fill our camelbacks in their bathroom and we got to see tiny baby squirrels of various ages while we did. They get a lot of squirrels and rabbits. Cats catch young ones and don't know what to do with them. Apparently cat saliva can contain Pasteurella bacteria and small escaped prey can die from it within a few days. I had cats all my life and worked at a pet store for years in high school but I never learned that. You learn something new every day.

After the animal shelter, we went walking around on the mountains.

The main trail went directly up Bradley Mountain and was marked by cairns so it was pretty easy to follow.


We passed an old quarry almost immediately.

 Bradley Mountain Quarry

On Bradley Mountain, there were occasional signs of old quarry activity but by and large the landscape was natural.

 Exposed Granite

Lichen and vegetation grew abundantly in every little dry pool or slightly shaded area.


This weird little short red stuff called diamorpha grows all over. It's rare in the southeast but you wouldn't know that from seeing it there.

Our plan was to follow a trail around Bradley and Arabia Mountains to get a sense of the scale of the place and then decide if we should go across the street to the Davidson side or not. The trail around the side wasn't all that easy to make out. There were no cairns marking it. We could kind of tell where to go for a while because the lichen was slightly more worn in some spots but we were further down on the mountain than the map made it look like we should be.

There were a couple of interesting sights along the trail...

Some big rocks to climb on.

 Girls on Big Rock

A lake.


But mostly just lots of gnarly terrain, unusual in Georgia.

 Bradley Mountainside

It was impressively hot. I could tell but I've gotten really acclimated to it these past few weeks. The girls kept commenting on it though.

Drink, drink.

Arabia Mountain was very different from Bradley.

 Arabia Mountain

Most of the mountain had been quarried. It looked like it may even have been 6 or 8 feet taller at some point.

There were piles of gravel and huge blocks of stone littered everywhere. Several times we came to the edge of a cliff and had to find a way up or down. It was wild. Not the kind of thing you'd generally get to see outside of an active quarry.

We even discovered a granite vault.

 Granite Vault

I thought it would be an oven inside but instead it was cool.

The map showed the trail entering the woods near the north end of the property. We searched and searched, triangulated and searched some more. Eventually we followed what had clearly once been a trail, but didn't look like it got much use these days. I was confident we weren't where we were supposed to be but we should eventually cross it. Eventually we crossed a much more well defined trail but even it didn't appear to go exactly the right way.

On my own, I'd have explored around until I sorted it all out but Isabel was getting sick at her stomach for many of the same reasons I'd been sick racing yesterday. It was disappointing but we decided to head back.

We climbed Arabia Mountain and followed the ridge line back.

There were cacti all over up there.


At the gap between Arabia and Bradley, Madison started to feel sick and light headed. "Do we have to climb all the way up there?"

 Bradley Mountain

It was odd. She'd been strong all day. Her pulse was weak. She hadn't been drinking.

Easy enough to fix. Ten minutes later she was doing a lot better.

We picked up the cairn-marked trail at the top and followed it back to the car - almost back to the car. We actually stopped for a picnic near the lot.


Sweet tarts, slim jims, twizzlers and water. Mmmmm.

I'd figured we'd be out for a few hours longer than we were, so we had plenty of the day left. Stonecrest Mall was on the way out and I had a car full of girls so we went shopping. Yes, I took the girls shopping, willingly. We followed it up with some Doc Chey's but they put bok choy in my noodles even after I told them not to!

The girls impressed me too. When Maddie's over they usually fight for attention but they didn't do much of that today. They interrupted each other sometimes but there wasn't even much of that.

We didn't accomplish our mission but we'll come back in the fall and try again. I think it'll be easier when it's less than a million degrees out.

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