Yes indeed, it has been a while since I have posted a new and exciting hiking or camping adventure. Not that we haven’t been busy the past few months. It has just been a lot of solid family time — helping paint and update our daughter’s new home; decking and bathroom projects at our son’s home; some granddaughter birthdays; decking projects at our house and welcoming a new grandson into the family!
And now, after de-winterizing the Winnebago, we headed out for a quick three days at Cloudland Canyon State Park in northwest Georgia. Weather was sunny, temperatures in the 70’s and we were ready to do some hiking down in the canyon and around the rim. As you can see by the pictures, the wildflowers were plentiful and the trees were just pushing out their leaves — maybe a week behind our Kennesaw neighborhood. If you have ever hiked Cloudland Canyon, you will recognize the views and the two beautiful waterfalls. If not, you should plan a visit to a spot that has views up along Lookout Mountain ridge toward Chattanooga and the Tennessee River.
Our first day’s 3 mile hike was from the West campground (oh, we were one of maybe 6 in camp that day) over to the Waterfalls Trail and the Main Overlook. Spectacular view of the ridges and valley below. The hike down to Cherokee Falls and Hemlock Falls is a combination of trail and stairways. Beware, it is 600 stairs down and the same 600 back up again! But if there is good water flow, the falls are a beautiful sight. And the wildflowers were amazing. A hillside of trillium, saxifrage, Solomon’s seal, dwarf crested iris and violets was gorgeous. Water dripped over limestone cliffs covered in moss and maidenhair ferns, with Jack-in-the-pulpit blooming.
We had thought that the Sitton Gulch Trail was a choice for the next day, as it traced along the creek further down the valley, but since it also incorporated the same 600 stairs at the start, we opted for the West Rim Trail along the top of the mountain instead. That seemed like a good 5 mile hike to prepare us for our upcoming hike in Amicalola Falls to the Len Foote Hike Inn.
The trail was a nice woodlands hike with plenty of pink native azalea in bloom. Underfoot were bluets, star flower, violets and the lovely blue dwarf crested iris. Doug was busy snapping away with his camera, which Jackie confessed provided some good “breather” moments. I am pretty happy with the pictures, but I must confess the ones “in my mind” always looked better than those the camera captured. Somehow the vividness of the colors just doesn’t come through as well, especially the blue of the iris. Wildlife was pretty scarce, with only one vulture sailing the updrafts. But a 3 foot green vine snake was a surprising find along the trail. We had a good look before we sent him along. The Catawba rhododendron were just about to bloom and the mountain laurel were maybe a week or two from full flower.
Back in camp it was quiet, with no sounds of planes overhead or highway traffic or train whistles, such as we hear at home. Actually, no wildlife sounds either, since it is too early for crickets or katydids but no peepers chirping. We did have a Pileated woodpecker teasing us at camp, stopping to tear up a few stumps mere feet from the campsite. He knew I didn’t have my camera out, of course. Jackie was heard to say “you have plenty of their pictures,” but you can always try for that one more money shot! Food in camp was rough: grilled strip steaks one night, maple-bourbon salmon the next. Don’t ya love it?
After a brief overnight rain, we packed up and headed for home — only a two hour trip. The campground was fully booked for the weekend, so lots of folks will be hiking the trails. It was nice to have the place almost to ourselves. We met some nice folks who will be heading to some of the Western parks we visited this past fall, so there was a chance to share ideas and experiences.
Back home we sat out on the deck and listened to the sounds of Barred Owls hooting in the woods, got buzzed by hummingbirds who wanted a feeder refill and we watched for our herd of local deer to wander through. Cloudland Canyon was very cool, but home isn’t so bad either.
Check out all the photos in the “Places” page of this blog.
Coming up next: weekend family cruise to Nassau and then for our anniversary a hike to the start of the Appalachian Trail in Georgia with an overnight stay at the Len Foote Hike Inn.