Stone Mountain located in Atlanta, Georgia is a famous (and controversial) mountain with a great view if you can make it to the top. I had always heard it was especially beautiful if you could wake up early enough to make it to the top by sunrise. After hearing about it, I really wanted to try it out. However, I am the complete opposite of a morning person, and it was also difficult to find someone who would agree to do such an early hike on a random day. Therefore, it took me a very long time to finally make the journey.
Then I had a great idea. I would ask my friends to make the hike with me for my 21st birthday. This way they were literally not allowed to tell me no.
The night of my actual birthday, I went out to eat with some friends and got my first ever legal drink. I knew not to drink too much because I have the worst stomach on the planet, and I had an early hike planned the next morning. Therefore, I only got one drink.
Afterwards we all came back to my apartment to hang out. We didn’t do anything too crazy, yet we didn’t do anything too smart either. By this I mean we stayed up way too late just hanging out. Despite knowing our wake up time was at 4 am, we probably went to sleep at literally 2 am. When my alarm went off, I felt miserably tired, but I was determined. Sadly, for my friends they were obligated to wake up and come along.
After waking up so early, our first stop was Dunkin Donuts. From there I got a coffee and some of their hash browns. At this point I felt fine. I was becoming more awake, and I was thankful to have my friends with me to make the drive to Stone Mountain at 4 am less brutal.
I would like to mention that my birthday is in the middle of January, so once we got to Stone Mountain it was freezing cold and windy outside. We were all wearing blanket hoodies instead of actual proper clothes, and the weather made something so simple as breathing so hard to do. Each breath was painful from the cold air hitting our throats. I had hiked Stone Mountain before as a kid in the middle of the day, and I have to say I didn’t remember it being so steep. For it being a relatively short hike, it didn’t seem like it was going to end.
Suddenly, my stomach took a turn for the worst. It had the terrible combination of whatever amount of alcohol was still left in me, Dunkin coffee, hash browns, and the water I had been drinking on the way up. I knew it was about to not be a pretty scene. To keep this part of the story short and lacking in detail, I had to stop twice during the hike to throw up in random shrubbery on the mountain, so there I was hunched over in a blanket hoodie in the cold with a sore throat wondering why I had done this to myself. However, I was not about to turn around and go back down, so I persisted on up.
After finally making it to the top, I was finally able to see the beautiful sunrise from Stone Mountain that I had heard so many people talk about before, and I can agree that it really is a great sight. The Atlanta skyline was twinkling in the distance when you looked one way, and the sun was putting on its best show when you looked the other way.
At the end of the day, I will say that hiking early in the morning in order to watch the sunrise is definitely worth it. Maybe just get some actual sleep, steer away from coffee and alcohol, and go when it’s not miserably cold outside.