Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Brasstown Bald

"Walk it off!"

I've certainly heard my share of those words. I tried doing that when I first crashed a few weeks ago but it didn't work. I figured two weeks later it might though, so Sophie and I went up to Brasstown Bald to walk it off.

Brasstown Bald

Turns out the climb up to the tower wasn't a big deal at all. No pain. No suffering. I was a little worried that heavy breathing would be a problem, not unlike sneezing, but it turned out not to be. I guess my bones are a sufficiently knitted for that kind of work.

The temperature was perfect.

Perfect Temperature

The weather was just right to make the views interesting.

South From Brasstown West From Brasstown North From Brasstown

I don't think I've ever been up there on a clear day.

We walked up to the observation deck, but Sophie wanted to take the elevator down. We tried, but there was a sign indicating that unless we weren't physically capable of taking the stairs, then we should take the stairs.

Ha! No elevator for us.

The interpretive center was actually open for some reason. I've never been up there when it was open before, so we took a quick stroll through. There was info on how mountains are formed, taxidermied native wildlife, and other things that I expected to see, but then there were a few things that I didn't expect...

For one, there was a Climax Steam Engine.

Climax Steam Engine

I'm not sure if it's a replica or a gutted real one, but there it was. I've seen plenty of photos, but I've never seen a "real" one before. It's smaller than I thought. You can climb up in it and there's a little video playing about logging around Helen. That's the engine that climbed all those old railbeds I've been exploring. It made it all seem more real to see one, and even more real to be able to climb up into the engine. The mind! It's so weird how the mind works.

Next door there was an animatronic Arthur Woody and another animatronic modern forest ranger, each of whom gave a little talk every 15 minutes.

Framed behind glass, on the wall next to Woody was a map of the forest from 1930.

National Forest Map Circa 1930

The "Cherokee National Forest" no less, not yet Chattahoochee.

I might be alone in this, but I couldn't believe what I was looking at. It looked like an original, not a copy. If it is, that's got to be a one-of-a-kind map. If there's more than one still in existence, I'd be surprised. And there it was, just sitting on the wall as a prop for the presentation. I could hardly read it from where I stood, but what I could read tickled my imagination to no end.

Bull Mountain Circa 1930

That's the Bull Mountain area.

Just a cursory glance reveals...

There's no Cooper Gap Road. The Hightower Express is shown as a road, not a trail. Noontootla is referred to as Noontootley. FS58 is a trail, and it ends at Three Forks. There is no Appalachian Trail. There are numerous settlements along Noontootla, Stover Creek, Long Creek and Winding Stair. The trail along Sal Mountain is shown...

To the northwest, there were even more interesting details that I couldn't get a photo of. Pine Tar Knob is "Tar Factory Knob". There's a homestead somewhere up around Wildcat Ridge. The Greasy Mountain area is "State Game Farm No. 2"...

I seriously need a copy of this map. I wonder if I could go back up there and convince them to let me take panoramic photos of it. Three or four of those ought to do.

I wonder if the USFS has some old map and photo archive somewhere. Man, if I had access to something like that...

After checking out the interpretive center, we walked back down. Again, it presented no problem for my ribs and I was very happy about that.

We also managed to meet Clark and Suzy for dinner. They'd been down at Jekyll Island all weekend, winning First Place and the Consumers Choice Award at the Shrimp and Grits Festival.

Yeeeaaahhhh!

Ironically... The grits for the entire festival were supplied by the Nora Mill Granary, which is located a few miles away from the Neal's house. And, Clark doesn't actually like shrimp because they made him super sick when he was a kid. That second one is funny because something similar happened to my Dad too, and now he doesn't like shrimp (or any seafood) either. I hope it never happens to me, because I really, really love shrimp.

We didn't eat shrimp for dinner though. We ate at the Nacoochee Tavern. Their Chicken Parm sandwich is excellent. Their Sausage and Peppers though... 15% less excellent.

The company was excellent though, and aside from drinking too much caffeine and having to pee 3 times on the way home, we had an easy drive back.

It would have been a great weekend overall, but the next morning Sophie and I both woke up with a fever and a cold. Fortunately my ribs are doing well enough to tolerate coughing. They appear to be well enough to tolerate hiking too. Hopefully I'll be able to kick this illness and get back on the trail this week.

One step at a time though. One step at a time.

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