Mountains and the origins of wood

Just to change things up a bit I thought I’d share a few pictures of where all I hiked while on vacation. This definitely is not supposed to cover up that I have not done any woodworking.

My family and I were up in north Georgia area for a week.  My goal for this trip was to hike as much as I could, search for old tools, relax with my kids, and visit a lumber yard.  After a week the lumber yard visit was the only thing I didn’t do.

Let’s talk about the tool hunting before we get to the pictures.  We spent most of a day driving around to different towns hitting antique malls to look for tools (me) and whatever else (my wife).  We drove to Dahlonega and the first place we stopped I found a booth with a bunch of draw knives, compasses, tri-squares, marking gauges, and other tools.  I even found a couple of nice Disston saws.  And braces, my gosh there was an ocean of braces everywhere we went.  The problem was the prices; all the stores were quite proud of their products.  I even found a few moulding planes but the ones that weren’t missing a blade or beat to hell were way overpriced.  I tried looking for flea markets but didn’t have any luck on that front.  The upside was that Dahlonega was nice and we’ll go back there again.  So I came back empty-handed but learned a valuable lesson; shop at flea markets, not antique malls.

My main goal for this week was hiking.  And hiking as much as I could.  If I remember correctly there are close to or over 100 water falls within an hour from where we were staying.  That’s all nice and everything (and we did see a couple) but I was mostly interested in the Appalachian Trail.  The AT surrounded us on three sides I wanted to see as much of it as I could.

I did a few short trails with my family but the longer and more difficult hikes were solo.  Normally hiking by yourself isn’t the best idea but the end of March/beginning of April is the start of thru-hiker season.  Everyone and their mom is starting in Georgia and attempting to head north along the green tunnel, so running into people is only a matter of when.

The first longer trail I did (the trail is about 5 miles but I did 7 that day) was the Smith Creek trail at Unicoi Park.

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The half mile trek to the trail head is paved and ends with a great view of Anna Ruby Falls.   From this trail head you are essentially going down the mountain. Despite that, there are some good up and downs and with the leaves down still, nice views. The forest was filled with various hardwoods but hickory by and large outnumbered any other species on this trail.

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Smith Creek served as a good warm-up for the next day when I went to Blood Mountain.  For those unfamiliar with Blood Mountain, it’s the highest point on the AT in Georgia and the sixth highest point in the state.  Hiking up Blood Mt. gives spectacular views and the summit holds a piece of history.  The Blood Mt shelter was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in 1934 and I wanted to see it.

I started on the Byron Herbert Reece approach trail near Vogel State Park and just north of the Walasi-Yi Interpretation Center (also built by the CCC).

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Of course the day I picked to hike was foggy.  The views weren’t amazing but the trail was a blast.

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Because of the fog I did get a dramatic reveal of the shelter.  The fog was so thick that I didn’t see the shelter until I was about 10 feet away and it came out of nowhere.  It’s a two room building with a sealed-up fireplace.  I think there used to be bunks but there were not when I was there.

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The grand view from the top wasn’t as grand as it normally is, but I was okay with it.

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Just imagine majestic mountains for miles and miles.
After that it was back down the mountain and return to the house where we were staying.  Two days later, I was back on the AT.

This time to access the AT I used  Andrews Cove Trail to arrive at Indian Grave Gap.  This is a very steep approach trail; the last quarter mile is brutal.

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From the gap you could go right for 2.5 miles to Tray Mountain or left for 1.5 miles to Rocky Mountain.  Not wanting to be gone all day, Rocky Mountain was my destination.

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The fog had mostly lifted at this point and the views were amazing.  Rocky Mt is not supposed to be as picturesque as Tray but I was still benefiting from naked trees and what they revealed.

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I took this next one near the top.  I stood there for about 10 minutes just to soak in all that I could.

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I told my wife I’m ready to move; beaches don’t have anything on this.

For the entire week I believe I hiked 23 miles.  That’s the most of all the times we’ve been in north Georgia and not too bad since I did want to see my wife and kids, too.

This is a long post and probably the most self-indulgent of my blog entries.  While there aren’t any mountains near home there is the Florida Trail; which will have to do until I can get north again.  Barring any rain I may check out a new trail head on the FT tomorrow and will post a few pictures.  I’m sure none of you have seen scrubs and pine so they’ll be of great interest, I bet.

Until next time, have a good one.

Eat a peach,

Jonathan

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