Angela Reinhardt / Photo
Rock painting, hiding and hunting is a popular activity across the country, with local Facebook groups popping up everywhere. Above, some rocks recently hidden in Pickens County.
It was an hour or so after I first spoke with “Pickens County GA Rocks” Facebook page founder Cindy McPherson that I decided to go on a rock hunt of my own.
She’d given be a brief explanation of the painted rock hiding/finding phenomenon that’s sweeping the nation, and I’d spotted a clue on the Facebook page for a rock hidden at a location that was on my way to Ball Ground. The clue was a photo of a small rock painted with the word “God” and placed on a concrete patio ledge. The photo caption read, “You have to be ‘quick’ to find this one.”
I recognized the ledge and about 15 minutes after the post was put up I found it perched on Quick Burger’s back deck. I took a picture of me holding the rock and posted in the comments section with a “Got it!”
Earlier, Cindy told me the most important rule is that hunters who find a rock either have to re-hide it and post a new clue, or keep it and paint a new rock to hide. I was pressed for time so I re-hid it by a fungus-covered tree stump in downtown Ball Ground near the stage. My clue was “You’ll be a ‘fungi’ if you find this rock in the town that ‘rocks.’”
Most of the rocks on the page are discovered within an hour, so I was surprised by comments the next day from frustrated hunters who had searched in Talking Rock, Nelson, Tate and other areas and couldn’t find it. A little boy finally found the rock around 5 p.m. The caption on the picture of him picking it up (presumably posted by an adult) said, “Oh lord it was coved in ants ...”
Oops. I hadn’t seen an ant pile when I hid it, and realized I may have messed up hiding the rock outside of Pickens County. But during our interview that Friday McPherson said she wants all of Pickens County and nearby communities to be included in an activity she says is fun for families and “spreads kindness, community togetherness, and family togetherness among the community.”
“It’s such a fun way to get kids out from electronics and have an activity you can do as a family,” she said. “My six year old loves to paint them, and I’ll let him pick where he wants to hide it. We go out about twice a week to hide, but there’s one girl who hid like 70 rocks. People really get into it.”
McPherson, who was turned onto the activity when she saw how much fun people were having on the “Calhoun GA Rocks” Facebook page, started the Pickens version on Saturday, June 10th. By Tuesday, June 20th the page already had 1,157 members and hundreds of posts.
Other than the rule about re-hiding or painting a new rock, the game is simple. Rocks can be any size and painted in any way (nothing vulgar and no artistic talent is required), and they ask you don’t trespass and that rocks aren’t taken from landscaping.
Another important rule is that hiders paint “Pickens County GA Rocks” on the back of the rock.
“That’s so people who are outside of the group will see it and go to our page,” McPherson said. “And it’s so interesting, these rocks go all over the place. My niece was in Oregon said she saw one from Vancouver. It’s fun to see how far they can go.”
McPherson would love to see the business community get involved and paint rocks that could be redeemed for a small prize, and she wants to see community fundraisers and other community-building events come out of the game. There is already talk of community rock painting parties.
McPherson also said the treasure-hunt style activity is a great way for people to see parts of the community they may not be familiar with. Case in point, one lady who posted a comment under my post about the rock in Ball Ground.
“I had never been to Ball Ground before. We are still a little new here and we live in Talking Rock. If it's there tomorrow, we will likely go. This has been great thing! We are exploring areas of our town we have never been. I saw Tate Elementary, the marble factories, mountains, Big Canoe, IGA, and some other beautiful scenery today that I had not been to yet. If it's still there tomorrow, we will see Ball Ground.”