WhiteBlaze Pages
A Complete Appalachian Trail Guidebook.
$10 for printed copy. $6 for PDF.
Read more here WhiteBlaze Pages Store

View RSS Feed

Teacher & Snacktime

Amicalola Falls

Rating: 3 votes, 5.00 average.
I need to interrupt the chronology of our reports because I can't wait to tell everyone about today's adventure at Amicalola State Park near Dahlonega, GA. Because of the forced “easing up” I've been observing, this trip's activity level was reduced to nothing more than that of prologue to our hike to the Springer Mountain Terminus of the AT. As a great many AT thruhikers begin their journey at AFSP by passing through the archway and tackling the strenuous 8 mile AT Approach Trail, it seemed fitting that Snacktime and I do likewise ...in our abridged version of course. But my original plan of taking a couple of hours to climb the famous (infamous) stairs to view the falls and hike the short 2 mile loop was put aside to allow for the more important hike later the same day. Tackling both was out of the question, so I pitched the plans and allotted a whopping 1 hr for a Visitor Center tour checking out the reptile exhibit, a photo op at the Arch, meet and greet with any available hikers starting out, and a quick drive to the top of the falls for the views.

Ah, the best laid plans of mice and men....and Grandmas.

We got a late and leisurely start out of the hostel and arrived at the very empty park before 10 am. It was blessedly cool and overcast, so the sun and heat issues that have plagued me for the past few days were non-issues, which boded well for our planned short stroll to the bottom of the falls. But first we checked out the Visitor Center where Snacktime ogled the caged snakes and made myriad bad puns about the bear/wildlife exhibit.

We went outside to see the Archway and the beginning of the AT Approach Trail and get our photos. No sooner had we cleared the side of the building when we saw a somewhat confused-looking hiker passing through the Arch from the other side, in full gear and regalia. He was quite clearly a “Thru”, and also clearly a new one (clean), but going the wrong way. We approached him and asked if he was heading out, and he said yes, he'd left a couple of minutes ago but hadn't gotten a picture of himself at the Arch. So he turned around in hopes of finding someone willing to take one for him. Of course we volunteered, and by our happening to be there just when he needed us, he received his very first example of trail magic. Then of course Snacktime handed him a trail magic bag and he had a two-fer!

We all chatted and exchanged stories and had a delightful little interlude which is exactly what we hope for with each of these “magic” encounters. Paul, the yet-un-trail-named hiker from Florida, went on his way again full of smiles and thanks. He said he'd been nervous, but felt encouraged by our kindness and was ready to head out. We told him we were headed up to Springer ourselves that afternoon (by car of course), and with any luck we'd see him again there.

Snacktime and I finished our photos and drove up the road a small way to the beginning of the falls trail. We took a short 2/10 mile walk to the lower overlook, where the first set of stairs began. With some urging from the young man, I agreed to tackle the first batch....175 stairs....to the next overlook. It was work, but not too bad. Certainly it was plenty of exertion for this trip, so I took some photos and started to turn back.

I want to keep going”, Snacktime piped up. “I want to climb them to the top.”

But it's another 425 stairs! I just can't, Ed” I replied.

That's ok. I'll do them on my own.”

He was obviously totally charged by the idea (nuts though I believed it to be), so I gave him the camera, told him to remember to drink and rest, and told him I'd drive to the top and meet him there. Full of smiles he headed off...up...and I turned back and climbed down my 175 stairs and .2 mi to the car.

It was on my walk back that the change in our circumstance really dawned on me. What a difference a year has made. Last April he was a kid, clinging onto and slowing down the energetic crazy-lady Grandma. This year, he's a stronger, more independent and more adventurous young man. Where just last year I was decidedly the stronger hiker of us, now it's all I can do to keep him in sight. And while it's easy to understand the increase in strength and stamina due to his growth, it's the change in attitude that has me so surprised....delightedly so. I had no problem believing him fully capable of the 604 stair climb, but the idea of him WANTING to make it was amazing! And wonderful! He's talking about thruhiking when he's 16....solo! And I really think he means it!

Watching someone grow up never gets old (no pun intended); seeing their interests expand, their inner strength develop, their dreams and ambitions arise. All this came to light today....such a bright, shining light that I was completely warmed within. I think it may have been my pride in him.

I got to the car, drove a couple of miles very slowly up a very steep road, and met him at the top. He'd beaten me there....red-faced, sweaty, and SOOOO happy about his accomplishment.

We went back to the Visitor's Center and tight-fisted Grandma bought him a T-shirt.

Updated 07-29-2014 at 23:19 by Teacher & Snacktime

Tags: None Add / Edit Tags