"Two roads diverged in a yellow wood... And sorry I could not travel both. I took the one less traveled by. And that has made all the difference." --Robert Frost

Saturday, May 27, 2017

3 Hikes & White Lightning in Georgia

Blue Ridge, GA
Camp Alexander


Driving through the countryside on the way to our friends property in Georgia, there were interesting barns along the way. 



Our friends, Guy & Sue of Our Rovin' Journey invited us to stay at their property, Camp Alexander, near Blue Mountain.  They have it set up with 3 very nice campsites.  They weren't able to be there as they were heading to a trip up through Eastern Canada, but welcomed us to stay anyway.
 
Our nice campsite.  It was a very peaceful few days and we didn't have to worry about finding a place to stay over the Memorial weekend.  No crowds either.  Just peace and quiet.
I didn't get a picture of it, but other RV friends, David & Sharon of Two Lanes of Freedom had left a nice message in the fire pit.  It was a stone heart.  Just as sweet as they are.

Down at the parking lot looking up at the High Point Observation Tower. 
Of  course one of the first things we did was head to the High Point of Georgia.  Brasstown Bald is the highest mountain in the state of Georgia at 4784 ft. The Southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail is about 30 miles southwest of Brasstown Bald at Springer Mountain which we will be hiking later.  The high point mountain is accessible via a 1/2 mile steep, paved trail to the summit, but if you don't want to hike to the top there is a shuttle. Brasstown Bald is not far from the North Carolina border, and lies in the middle of the Southern Appalachian Mountain chain.

We chose the trail of course.  Short, but lined with Rhododendron and Laurel. 

 
Rhododendron                                                         Mountain Laurel

The American Chestnut was once abundant until Blight killed many of the trees.
 
 

The Rhododendron grow in twisted trunks and roots that grab on to the rocks. 

 
The view from the top looking back down at the parking lot.
 
 
 
 

Ya, that's my finger in the way.
The Observation Tower was not open until after Memorial Day so we walked around on our own.  Unfortunately Georgia is one of the few states that does not have a geological marker at the highest point.  Bummer.   

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The weather turned out great for the day we planned to head out to the beginning (or ending depending on which way you were headed) of the Appalachian Trail.  Since we lived in Upstate NY, and Steve's family is from Virginia, we have hiked portions of the trail over the years in different states.  It was very exciting to see the terminus.  If we make it, we might even hit the other terminus in Maine when we hike Mt Katahdin at the other end of the Appalachian Trail.  The Appalachian Trail is 2190 miles in length and runs through 14 states.

 
Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains in northern Georgia, Springer Mountain has an elevation of about 3,782 feet and serves as the southern terminus for the Appalachian Trail.  It's a quick, 1 mile, moderate hike up to the terminus.
 




  
              The first white blaze on the Appalachian.                                  The plaque.


 The view from the beginning of the AT.

Steve talking to one of the Forest Service employees who counts those that are through-hiking.  He keeps a count of those using the trail and making sure they have the correct supplies, equipment and maps.  He had a lot of great info.  The lady in blue is also a fulltimer that solos in a fancy van.

 
The road to get there took us about an hour up some dirt forest service roads.  It's pretty remote.  On the way up we noticed something up high on a tree branch.

It turned out to be a stuffed animal wearing a handkerchief wired to the tree branch.  Why?  Some people answered, lock the doors and get out of there, some said to watch out for banjo music and Lee had the funniest answer, Hiker Bait!

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Finally we had some challenging trails to hike!  Most of the high points are drive ups, so it's great to find some other trails.  Blood Mountain was a perfect choice!   At 4459 feet, Blood Mountain is the Appalachian Trail’s highest-elevation ascent in Georgia. Four and 1/2 miles, rated difficult.  Dog friendly too.

Hurley loves to romp through creeks and if he can hear the water running, he takes off to splash around.

The trail crosses some creeks and switchbacks through the thick forest and up to the craggy open peaks above.

 
Lots of roots and rocks and steps to climb.



 
The flowering trees and shrubs added some color to all the green of the forest.



 


 

Almost at the top and people are soaking up the views along the way.


You can tell when Hurley has about reached his limit.  He'll just flop down.  When he found this little stream, down he went to cool off and have a drink.  We let him rest a bit.  He'll be 9 in June and I have noticed him slowing down when it gets hotter out on the trails.

   

At the top is a stone shelter for backpackers built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corp.
 
 


Steve striking a yoga pose at the top!



A couple of hours later heading back down through the ferns and we were back at the truck.
 
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On the way back from the hike we wanted to stop in to Mimms for some Moonshine Tasting.
 

This beautiful bar is the original from the movie Coyote Ugly.
 
There is a sign on the bar stating:
"This bar is one of the four bars built to film Coyote Ugly.  And yes, Piper Perabo and her friends danced on this bar in the movie, but due to health and safety regulations.... you can't."


 
 
I'm not really a moonshine fan, but I liked this high potency one better than the flavored  ones.

The stills out back.
 
Moonshine is not aged.  Still beer is run through the stills and heated to 170 degrees.  The steam evaporates through the copper tubes and mixes with water, which creates the liquid moonshine.  The moonshine is 120 proof after the first run through the stills and 180 proof after the second run.  It takes about 16 hours to run both batches through the still.

 
Moonshine Trivia
 
- The first still was brought to the US by a Scotts-Irishman to Pennsylvania.
- More moonshine has been made in New York City than all of the southern states put together.
- Other names for moonshine were Mountain Dew and White Lightning.


 
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Hiking the short waterfall trail, made for 3 days of hiking in a row.  Helton Creek Falls was just one of them.  The mist was nice and cooling on the humid trails.






Some people cooling off at the base of Helton falls.

We're glad to get a few days of rest before our next round of hikes start in South Carolina.
 

16 comments:

  1. North Georgia is one of my favorite places!! Looks like you got in some great hikes. Moonshine place looked like a lot of fun!!

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    1. Loved the hiking. It was an all around great stay!

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  2. What a sweet moochdocking spot! The blooms are gorgeous. Those roots and rocks look treacherous! I've only tried moonshine one and wasn't a fan, but that tasting looks like a lot of fun :-))) Georgia is high on our list for getting back east.

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    1. There were many more hikes (aren't there always?) that we'd have liked to do. Kayaking was high on the list in the river, but the weather did not cooperate for that. The farmers markets were just getting going.

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  3. Gee, a private "campground" for the holiday...very nice! Love that you got to hike from the start of the AT. Poor Hurley! I know I sometime feel just like him and want to lie down in the water:)

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    1. The timing worked out perfect for the holiday! It pays to have friends in gorgeous places ;-) Funny that altitude or cold doesn't bother Hurley at all, but heat is really starting to affect him. Even if it's a flat trail.

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  4. So happy that the Oasis I found in N Georgia is giving all my friends a place to enjoy! Looks like you had a few great days of hiking๐ŸŽ‰๐ŸŽ‰๐ŸŽ‰

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  5. Beautiful trail and very cool bar! How nice Guy and Sue had an RV spot for you.

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    1. The moonshine place had lots of little shops around it. Cute stuff and a fun visit.

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  6. Beautiful pictures and awesome hikes. Looks like we need to make it to North Carolina.

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    1. We've been to different parts of NC, but I'm sure there are many other wonderful sections to visit still.

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  7. You sure picked a good day to hike to the summit in GA-the empty parking lot photo made me chuckle a little. How nice to be able to get to talk to the guy at the beginning of the AT. Grandaddy Mimms looks like a fun place for a rest. I haven't tried moonshine. It'll have to go on my bucket list.

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    1. Since Steve's working, we have to do some later day hiking, but it usually works out. I don't really like moonshine either, but I was able to swallow it. I thought I'd like the flavored better, but not really. I've had cherries soaked in Moonshine, and those were pretty good though ;-)

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  8. I sure hope the forest service can cup up with a blight resistant chestnut tree, Deb.

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    1. It's always a shame to see how badly these bugs can kill so much forest. You'd think the bird population would increase along with them and they'd eat them. At least it's not as bad as the beetle damage in AZ and CA!

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