I had the wonderful opportunity to spend Thanksgiving with my eldest son and his family just north of Atlanta, Georgia. My wife and I drove down on Wednesday and spent Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday, and College Football Saturday with the Roughs.
We decided to do a little hiking while we were there and while Tom the Turkey was baking and the pumpkin pies were cooling, my wife, my son and his two beautiful daughters took off for the woods. Within four football fields of my son’s front door is the trail head to a beautiful trek through the forest and down to the river. As part of the Etowah River Trail, this hike followed a leaf covered path with a rather steep descent down to the river, a lovely walk following the bank of the river, and a climb back up the hill that made me glad I was not sporting a 30 pound backpack.
On Black Friday, we joined in the spirit of REI and opted out of retail shopping and went for the outdoors. We hopped in the car and took a drive north to Amicalola Falls. Before making my thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail, I had read stories of the 8.8 mile approach trail starting at Amicalola Falls and ending at Springer Mountain. I opted out of this trail and caught a ride to the parking lot just one mile for the southern terminus.
I was more than excited to explore this area and see for myself some of the challenge of the approach trail. Some thru-hikers do not make it to the top in one day and stay at the Black Gap Shelter. The goal for the day with the granddaughters was just to hike up to the falls and experience the challenge of the 604 step staircase. I was so impressed with the waterfall! The thru-hikers I met who had made the journey talked about the steps and the rigor of the hike but failed to communicate the splendor of the falls themselves. At 729 feet, Amicalola Falls is the tallest cascading waterfall in the Southeast.
Saturday morning, before Ohio State crushed Michigan in college football, we took another short drive to Pine Mountain. Hiking a 2.2 mile loop trail that took us to the summit of Pine Mountain was just a perfect hike for the family. There were several special spots to stop on the way up so that they granddaughters could climb a tree or explore the rocks. The summit did not disappoint either. From the top, we could see the skyline of Atlanta and Stone Mountain on the horizon. The weather was perfect and the sky presented white clouds highlighting the crisp blue day.
Three days – three hikes – what a way to spend Thanksgiving! It even served to lessen the guilt of seconds and thirds of sweet potatoes and turkey.