Sunday, August 24, 2014

2014-08-22 Northern Georgia Waterfalls and the Hike Inn

Northern Georgia Waterfall Wandering
And My First Visit to the Hike Inn
Friday, August 22nd and Saturday August 23rd, 2014

My buddy Darrin Volunteers at The Hike Inn several times a year.  Occasionally the Inn hosts some volunteer appreciation events where the Volunteers get together for a free nights stay at the Inn when they are not expected to do any work.  They are also allowed to bring along a guest, which in this case was me!

We both decided to take the day off from work on Friday and get nice early start to our weekend.  I met Darrin at his office at 5:00am and rode up with him.  We decided to make several stops along the way.

First up was Helton Creek Falls a short and easy hike to a pair of waterfalls on Helton Creek.

 Lower Helton Creek Falls

 Me at Lower Helton Creek Falls

Upper Helton Creek Falls

In addition to his volunteer work at The Hike Inn, Darrin also volunteers with the Georgia Appalachian Trail Club.  He has adopted a mile long section of the AT from the Walasi-Yi Center at Neels Gap to the intersection with the Freeman Trail.

 The Walasi-Yi center at Neels Gap
It is tradition that AT thru hikers toss their worn out hiking boots over this tree.

So we hiked Darrin's adopted section of trail.  The trail was in good shape and the only bit of maintenance that was required was just a little trimming back of some brush.  The most interesting feature along this short section of the AT is Balancing Rock.

 Darrin on top of Balancing Rock

Next on our agenda was Springer Mountain, the Southern Terminus of the Appalachian Trail.  We chose the shortest and easiest route to get there, a mile long (two-mile out and back) hike.

 At the Summit of Springer Mountain.  The first (or last) blaze along the AT

 View from Springer Mountain

After Springer Mountain we did the one mile (two miles out and back) hike to Long Creek Falls.  Another nice waterfall that I had never been to!

 Darrin at Long Creek Falls

 Long Creek Falls

Darrin and Me at Long Creek Falls

We finished Long Creek Falls with just enough time to drive to Amicalola Falls State park and begin the 5-mile hike to the Hike Inn by 2:00pm.  Unfortunately Darrin's GPS led us astray on the Dirt Road to Nowhere.  After about 7 slow miles on probably the roughest dirt road that Darrin's truck had ever tackled, the GPS told us to turn on an even worse road.

Darrin didn't feel comfortable going any further and we ended up backtracking the seven miles.  This delayed us by about an hour and we didn't start the hike to the Hike Inn until closer to 3:00pm.  Fortunately we are both fast hikers and we still made it to the Inn with plenty of time to check into our room, shower up, and still have a bit of relaxation time before dinner.

The Hike Inn

The 5-mile hike required to get to the Inn is a pleasant stroll through the woods.  The trail gains about 600-feet of overall elevation with plenty of ups and downs along the way.  It was one of the hottest days of the year with close to 100% humidity and we were both saturated with sweat upon our arrival at the Inn.  Having that nice shower at the end of the hike was awesome!

The Inn is a pretty awesome place.  Everything is very clean and well kept and the setting is beautiful!  The rooms are pretty sparse, but since you pretty much only use the room for sleeping, that is not a big deal.  My biggest concern was the lack of AC.  However being at over 3,000 feet in elevation, evening temperatures generally cool down enough that you really don't need AC.

 Our room at the Hike Inn.  All guest rooms are pretty much identical

Dinner was a nice juicy Rib-Eye Steak, Baked Potato, Grilled Asparagus, and a Salad.  A nice hearty meal after a full day of hiking!  Dinner and Breakfast is included with all stays at the Hike Inn!  And for volunteer appreciation, they even offered up Beer and Wine which is not normally served at the Inn!

Almost every evening at the Inn, there is an after dinner educational presentation.  This evening's presentation was Appalachian Trail Trivia where we learned some fun and interesting facts about the trail.

Later that evening it was time to pull out the Moonshine.  Darrin and I each toted two full bottles along our 5-mile hike to share with the other volunteers!  It definitely made for a very enjoyable evening!

 Darrin pulls out the Shine!

 Enjoying some drinks with some of the Hike Inn Volunteers!

I had just enough that I had no problem falling asleep, but not too much to have any major ill-effects in the morning.  I had no problems getting out of bed in time for sunrise.  The Hike Inn is a great spot to catch a sunrise!

 Sunrise at the Hike Inn

 Sunrise at the Hike Inn

 Along Came a Spider!

Enjoying the Sunrise at the Hike Inn

Breakfast was a nice spread of Sausages, Eggs, Biscuits, Gravy, Grits, Orange Juice, and some really good Coffee!

The 5-mile hike back to Amicalola Falls State park was enjoyable but uneventful.  Since Darrin had to get home at a reasonable hour, we didn't plan any other adventures for the rest of the day.

I thoroughly enjoyed my first stay at the Hike Inn, and really appreciate Darrin inviting me along.  I sure hope to get another opportunity to return to the Hike Inn sometime in the near future!

The complete set of photos is posted here:

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Chimney Rock State Park
Rutherford County, NC
Saturday, August 9th, 2014

Last weekend Amy's sister and her family came for a visit.  We decided to take a trip up to Chimney Rock State Park.  It has been several years since my last visit, so Amy and I decided to get season passes.  So we will be making several more visits over the next 12 months!

It was a relatively cool day for August, but rather foggy with 100% humidity.  We also endured a short but heavy rain shower.
 Chimney Rock

 Devil's Head


 Chimney Rock

Hickory Nut Falls

 Amy, Grace, Hugh, Caroline, and Jenny

 Hickory Nut Falls

 Jack and Amy at Hickory Nut Falls

After a wet, but enjoyable visit to Chimney Rock State Park we had a nice lunch at a popular Biker Hangout where we met a rather unique Biker Bird!

 Biker Bird

 Caroline with the Biker Bird

The Complete Set of Photos is posted here: