Is there a possibility of feeling serene and excited at the same time? If so, this is how I feel standing high atop a mountain, looking at the world below. This sense is particularly true when I can’t see the hand of man anywhere in the view.
I spent the week before Thanksgiving in Georgia, visiting family. I got up early on Monday and headed for my parents home. From London Kentucky on south, I drove through the smoke and haze created by the numerous forest fires raging though the Smokies. An hour away from my destination, I stopped in Tallulah to see the gorge. This is the deepest gorge east of the Mississippi River and one of my favorite stops. My sister, Kelly lives just across the road, tucked up in the lee of a mountain.
As you can see, the smoke settled into the gorge, filling it with a burnt haze. The smell of it filled the air. And while, I normally enjoy the scent of a wood fire, I ‘d been sitting in the smell for hours and was done with it.
This scene was captured atop Black Rock Mountain just a few minutes before I arrived at Tallulah Gorge. You can see that the view is completely filled with the smoke of the fires burning near Tiger, GA.
The Smoky Mountains were definitely living up to their moniker.
In northern Georgia, at the top of Blood Mountain is one of the most wonderful views you will see in the area. The mountain is crowned by Walasi-Yi (pronounced Wa La See Yee and means The Big Frog), a small interpretive center and hiking supply store. It’s the only location along the AppalachianTrail that passes under a roof. The area is also known as Neels gap (originally named Frog Town) and is just thirty miles or so from the beginning of the trail.
Located in front of the store, is a massive oak with dozens of boots hanging from its branches. When I look at them, I wonder about the stories they could tell of the many thousands of miles they have seen along the trail. Some look almost new while others are patched with duct tape and are barely holding together.
If you’ve ever hiked the AT, let us know in the comments.