Saturday, three of us (four with Dr. Pillar) braved the elements to learn about South Mountain. South Mountain is about an hour and a half from Queens University and about twenty miles south of Morganton.
The hike was about a mile round trip. Shortly after starting the hike, we came upon a rock formation that contained metagreywacke and conglomerate. We could see where the rock had been exposed to heat and pressure. Greywacke is an underwater sedimentary rock so this was proof that the whole area was once underwater. A little further up the trail was the site of the original waterfall which is now just an intersection between Jacob’s Fork and Shiny Creek. As we went further up the trail, we came to the Hugo Rock, a great example of exfoliation. The rock received this name because the exfoliation occured during Hurricane Hugo.
Next stop was High Shoals Lower Falls, which was quite impressive, a lot of water. But the journey continued, seeing other neat features along the way. I must say, this hike became strenuous for me…a lot of steps, some 24″ high, some very steep. I was looking at the brochure earlier online at the park’s website.
Here is an excerpt:
The most popular trail, High Shoals Falls Loop Trail, travels one mile along the Jacob Fork River to the base of High Shoals Falls, a beautiful crystal-clear waterfall. The trail then continues to the top of the falls before looping around and returning to the parking area. The terrain can be rugged, so be observant of the trail and wear sturdy shoes. http://www.ncparks.gov/Visit/parks/somo/pics/brochure.pdf
Finally reaching the top, we saw the upper falls and the effects of erosion on the rocks. It is hard to believe that everything use to be level ground and that this mountain has formed due to erosion.
As we started back down the other side of the fall, it began to sleet, just a little at first. Halfway down, the sleet became very heavy and mixed with snow. It was especially fun watching Yin see sleet and snow for the first time. Along the way, we did see a large amount of mica and more metagreywacke. By the time we were at the end of the trail, the ground was covered with sleet and snow and we were soaked.
I hate that more students did not attend the trip. It was really neat actually, seeing, first hand, what Dr. Pillar has taught us this semester. If you ever have a chance to go to South Mountain State Park, do it. There are markers along the way that give geologic information.