Sunday, July 19, 2009

Cane Creek

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Cane Creek. Land of ticks, waterfalls, and long, steep, abandoned trails. Seriously, who uses these trails? The litter is 10 years old and there isn't even any ranger paraphernalia.

Andrew, a buddy of mine from work, and I did some exploring up there today.

We started off down the Turninglathe Branch Trail. I'd been there before, years ago, back when I didn't know jack about running around in the woods, and ruined a hunter's day. Today we blazed on past that, and straight into some overgrown garbage. Bad trails left and right. Eventually we abandoned all hope and just followed the creek. Except that wasn't any easier.

 1 - Overgrown Near Turninglathe

We did find a turtle.

 2 - Turtle

At long last, it opened up, and lo, the trail appeared again. We got back on it, it T'ed into another one and we took it down to the top of a waterfall. I thought it was the same falls I'd found the last time I was there, but in fact, it was a different falls.

 3 - Andrew at Turninglathe Cascade 3

 4 - Turninglathe Cascade 3

The road appeared to end there. Again we followed the creek, and eventually reached the one I'd seen before. It had an upper section that I hadn't seen the last time.

 5 - Upper Turninglathe Cascade 2

 6 - Lower Turninglathe Cascade 2 From Above

 7 - Lower Turninglathe Cascade 2

From there we trudged on down to Old FS247 and checked out the lower cascade for a minute. It made me wonder though, are there any more below this one? I'll have to come back to find out.

We followed Old 247 up to the gap and looked hard for the cemetery loop.

Blueberries! I should have taken a photo. We ate them. At least some of them.

Where the hell was the cemetery loop? From the other direction, it's really easy to find. From this end, not at all. Eventually we found it, but only after passing it and climbing back up through the woods. Ahh, clean trail. I was a-jawin, got distracted, and almost stepped on this guy.

 8 - Ribbon Snake

I didn't even see it until Andrew pointed it out, right after I'd walked by. If it had been a snake, it would have bitten me. I believe this is a ribbon snake. Circle head. No danger. Well, limited danger.

We continued, past the cemetery.

One of our goals was to check out some black dots that were on the USGS map. They usually mean that there is a building there, or at least that there was a building there when the map was made, umpteen billion years ago. Perhaps there would be ruins today. We followed some "trails" down to the creek. And looked around for a while. There were several areas that may have been cleared out to build on, some tree trunks in the creek that may have once been part of a bridge, and a couple of pits that had clearly been dug, but nothing else. No old boards, no old chimneys, nothing else. We followed a trail up along a little feeder creek for a while. Lots of downed trees. No good. It sounded like there might be a waterfall down below. We checked it out, but there was nothing but this.

 9 - Tiny Falls

Maybe in a couple thousand years.

Back to the cane creek trail.

Scenic little creek.

 10 - Scenic Creek

Hey, I did find something! Yesterday's trash is a precious artifact today.

 11 - Artifact

It took a while to get back on the main trail. I led us right past the trail we'd come down on :) We did get back on it though. Up, up, up. Through the flatts and the blowdowns, past a bunch of old artifacts. Past a weird campsite, to Cane Creek Falls.

 12 - Andrew at Cane Creek Falls Cascade 1

Up on "heartbreak hill" Andrew's girlfriend called him. I hadn't thought about it, but we're pretty much on the southernmost face of the entire Appalachian range, with direct line-of-sight to every cell tower between there and Atlanta. He had 3 bars. He called her back at the top of the hill and we took a little break.

Up, up, up. Last time I'd cut cross-country to an old logging road and taken it up to the gap. Today, we just followed the creek and when there was no more creek, followed the drainage.

The gap.

 13 - Cane Creek Gap

Andrew had a hitchhiker.

 14 - Caterpillar

We dined on clif blocks, "premium" nuts and asiago bread. Fancy.

Instead of taking the trail back down, we took an old logging road. One that I hadn't taken a few weeks ago.

On the way up, I'd seen ten thousand trilliums. Many different species. My mom says they're pretty rare. I can't say for sure. But, I figured I'd take some pics, since there were so many. Of course, as soon as I decided to do it, I didn't see any more. Oh, look, here's one, at least I think it's a trillium.

 15 - Trillium

I hoped the old road would take us around to the Long Mountain ridge, but it ended abruptly. A fairly well worn trail continued though. Maybe it would lead to the ridge. We followed it, and it appeared to lead right to the ridge. However, this is one of those situations where people get lost without a compass. It looked like we might be on Long Mountain ridge, we really wanted to be on that ridge, but we were really just on a little bump on the side of the mountain. The compass confirmed this. We trusted the compass. If we hadn't checked it, we'd have been seriously confused.

We backtracked to a creek and followed it down to the Cane Creek Trail. Andrew had seen several "whole ecosystems growing on a rock". Here's one of them.

 16 - Ecosystem on a Rock

On the way up, we'd crossed Cane Creek above the waterfall. Looking back down, it appeared that there might be another cascade just below. On the way down, we followed the creek and yeah, there was another cascade.

 17 - Andrew at Cane Creek Cascade 5

And another.

 18 - Cane Creek Cascade 4

 19 - Cane Creek Cascade 4 Wide Shot

And another.

 20 - Cane Creek Cascade 3 Close

 21 - Andrew at Cane Creek Cascade 3

And a salamander.

 22 - Salamander

And another.

 23 - Cane Creek Cascade 2

Wow. And there's just no easy way to get to any of it, from the gap above, or from anywhere below. I love finding stuff like this out in the middle of nowhere.

We had an easy trip back. We avoided the Turninglathe area and just took Old 247 back to the truck.

Andrew got bitten by a spider but smacked it before he could identify it. All spider bites hurt, but as far as I know, there are only 2 really dangerous spiders in Georgia; the Black Widow and the Brown Recluse. You'd know it, right away, if you got bitten by either. We kept an eye on it. Thirty minutes later he wasn't passed out in agony. Probably ok.

At The Piazza in Dahlonega, a lone tick crawled across our table. We'd been relatively short on ticks all day. Figures one would show up at this late hour. Andrew crushed it and I disposed of it in the bathroom. I figured I'd check myself, and, of course, I had one biting my leg.

The price we pay.

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