The Sauratown Mountains
In North Carolina, United States
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The Sauratown Mountains (sometimes called the Saura Mountains), are an isolated mountain range located within Stokes and Surry counties of northwestern North Carolina and are considered to be part of the Piedmont Plateau. The Sauratown Mountains rise from the southeast edge of Surry county, and then run northeast through Stokes county for over half the width of the county. Although the range occupies only 5% of Stokes county's area, they dominate the county's scenery from almost every direction, rising sharply 800 to 1,700 feet (244 to 518 meters) above the surrounding terrain and to more than 2,500 feet above sea level. The Sauratown Mountains were named after a Native American tribe which lived in the area before European settlers arrived in the early 1700s. The Sauratown Range has individually named peaks such as, from the west: Pilot Mountain, Flat Shoals Mountain, Sauratown Mountain, Cole Gap Mountain, Cooks Wall, Moore’s Knob, Hanging Rock, Huckleberry Mountain, Ruben Mountain, and Eaton’s Mountain. The range consists of rugged, heavily forested ridges frequently broken by large quartzite rock cliffs which can be seen for miles. The Sauratowns are known for offering some of the best rock climbing in North Carolina. The highest point in the Sauras is Moore's Knob. The range is home to Hanging Rock State Park, which was formed in 1936 and contains Moore's Knob and other prominent peaks in the Sauratown Mountains. From 1935 to 1942 the Civilian Conservation Corps, a New Deal agency, built a dam and 12-acre lake in the park, as well as hiking and climbing trails and picnic and campground areas.
The Sauratown Mountains are monadnocks. Monadnocks (mo-nad-nocks) are isolated mountains surrounded by lowlands. These once towering Sauratown mountains have surrendered to wind and water except the erosion-resistant quartzite rock that is the backbone of ridges such as Moore's Wall, Cook's Wall, Devil's Chimney, Wolf Rock, and Hanging Rock. Because the Sauratown peaks are completely surrounded by the rolling hills of the piedmont, geographers do not consider the Sauratown Range part of the nearby Blue Ridge Mountains.
The Sauratown Mountains are the remnants of a once-mighty range of peaks. Over millions of years, wind, water, and other forces wore down the lofty peaks. What remains of these ancient mountains is the erosion-resistant quartzite, which now supports the scenic ridges we see and enjoy today. Quartzite is a hard, metamorphic rock which was originally sandstone. Sandstone is converted into quartzite through heating and pressure usually related to tectonic compression. Pure quartzite is usually white to grey. On the highest elevations in the Sauratown range, bare rock is now exposed. Mosses and lichens have invaded portions of the bare rock, beginning the process of succession. As the underlying rock weathers and cracks, soil gradually fills those small crevices and the small plants take hold. Throughout thousands or millions of years, with adequate amounts of water, these plant communities may become even more diverse and forests will creep uphill, covering the mountain once again.
** To get credit for this Earth cache: You must hike to posted coords on top of Moore’s Knob and complete the requirements listed below.
It is a 1.6 mile, one way hike from either the parking lot at the Visitor’s Center or the parking lot at the Lake. The Park Service lists it as a strenuous hike. Allow plenty of time. Take water and food. Be mindful of approaching storms. There is also Moore’s Wall Loop Trail that is 4.3 miles if you want to get over to House Rock and Cook’s Wall for one of the locales for the virtual cache in the park. There are benchmarks you can locate on both Moore’s Knob and House Rock.
Please follow all park Rules and Regulations! Take note of Park closing hours.
1. Post a picture in your log of yourself, with your GPS visible, atop the observation tower on Moore’s Knob (the posted coordinates) with either Sauratown Mountain (the one with the antennas) to the west OR Hanging Rock Mountain to the east, visible in the background. No picture = no smiley and logs without a picture will be deleted.
2. Answer the following 5 questions and send the answer via email to me. Do not post answers in your log or as part of the caption of your picture.
* Describe the type of rock, or rocks, you found on and around the peak and what signs of erosion you observed at the peak area of Moore’s Knob?
* Estimate the distance from Moore’s Knob to the Blue Ridge Range you see to the north and what method did you use?
* What elevation did your GPS show when you were on the observation platform of the tower? (do not post a picture of your GPSr elevation screen in your log!)
* Inside the room, in the base of the observation tower, what is written on the boulder located just in front of the bottom of the steps leading inside?
* How many metal steps are leading up to the top of the tower?
Hope you enjoyed hiking in Hanging Rock State Park! Thanks for completing this Earth Cache!
The picture MUST be uploaded immediately after posting your log AND the answers to the questions MUST be sent within a reasonable amount of time on the same day as you claim your smiley. All logs not complying will be deleted without notice. As of 7-30-09, I will no longer send out reminder emails asking for the information.
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Last Updated: on 1/6/2013 9:35:12 AM (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada) (5:35 PM GMT)
Coordinates are in the WGS84 datum