GTFO 2013, Day 3 - July 6
I woke at 7:30 AM to the sound of screaming children. Ahh, the sounds of public campgrounds. I checked the weather radar and it looked like most of the storms would stay to the west, but I was in for a bit of early morning rain.
I alternated between staring out the door of the tent and drifing off to sleep.
About 9 AM the rain passed and I got up and started packing. Sleeping next to the stream was nice because I didn't need my sound machine app to make white noise.
Around 10 AM, I finally pulled out of the campsite. I think I'm sensing a trend with these 10 o'clock departures.
After a quick stop in Chatsworth, Georgia, for McDonalds, I was back on the road. After regaining the paved portion of the TET, I came across a downed tree on CCC Camp Road. I don't remember the storm being that bad, but I slept pretty soundly the night before. Since nobody was around I called it into 911 so they could get someone out to cut it up.
The forest roads were sloppy from all the rain and I rode a lot slower than I really wanted to. After a few hours, I saw a sign I recognized.
I had hoped I'd come by here. I've hiked most of the New Jersey sections of the Appalachian Trail as a Scout and always wanted to see where it started.
I was surprised to find that the official start of the trail is about a mile from the parking lot, up hill, and to the south. After getting there, hikers then have to turn around and head back the way they came from.
I was debating making the hike to the start when a couple came down the other way. I asked if there was a view and they said there normally was, but that cloud cover created limited visibility. About that time, the wind started picking up, heralding of another storm cell. That sealed it for me. Springer Mountain would have to wait for another day. I wolfed down a few Lara bars in lieu of lunch and headed east. Ah, more rain.
About 30 minutes from Helen, Georgia, I passed Helton Creek Falls. I could hear the water over the sound of my engine, so I parked and walked down the trail to take a look. The place looked half-destroyed because the Forest Service cut down all the hemlock trees (and left them to rot) because of an infestation of the woolly adelgid, an invasive insect from Asia. The falls themselves were beautiful due to the volume of water.
As I was taking my pictures, a couple asked me to take their picture. I said OK and they hand me an iPad. /groan. I set up a perfect "rule of thirds" horizontal shot with the falls in the background. After they look at it, they ask if I can take another one vertical. /facepalm. I almost said no. iDevices are ruining photography and video. It's even got it's own term: Vertical video syndrome.
They offered to take my picture, but I politely refused. Heading back out on the road, I was surprised by not one, but two creek crossings. All that water that made the falls look beautiful was now looking pretty ugly to me. The water was not only swift and deep, but the ripples obscured the bottom. Faced with back tracking or going forward, I chose the latter.
As you can hear, I was pretty stoked to make it across.
Back on the two-lane road, I stopped to check out one of the few views I've seen on the trip.
I rolled into Helen, a faux-Bavarian alpine town, about 6 PM and decided to call it a day. I checked into the Helendorf River Inn
in the heart of downtown and went to my room to clean up. After doing laundry and spreading my tent and gear about the room, I went to explore the town.
As I said earlier, it's exactly what I expected in a tourist trap of a mountain town. I was a bit self-conscious of my attire, but nobody but me seemed to care. I ate at Hogpen Gap Grill
. The jagerschnitzel was delicious.
After that, I went looking for a place to sit and enjoy a few beers. I didn't catch the name of this place (it's behind Paul's), but it was crowded, had a live band, served large beers, and had a view of the Chattahoochee River.
I went back to my room about midnight. My tally for the day was 139 miles and 596 miles for the entire trip.