Monday, October 12, 2015

Raven Cliffs

This morning I had two ideas about where I wanted to go. They were both in the same general vicinity, but far enough apart that I really had to commit to one or the other. I actually left the house without deciding exactly which to tackle though, and I figured I'd make the decision on the drive.

Right about then, two unusual things happened.

First... 6 or more police cars passed me going the other way, lights and sirens on. Then, after I turned right and went a block or two, at least 6 more passed me, turned around and followed the first 6. Then, even more passed me and took a right, as if to approach from a different direction. Two things seemed wild about this. First: What the heck happened that "all units" needed to respond to. Second: Are there usually THAT many police cars in my general vicinity? I mean, at least 15 police cars were able to drive past me within 3 or 4 minutes. I've honestly never seen that many in such quick succession.

The second unusual thing that happened was Clark called me. Funny story there... My phone rang with a 229 area code on Friday. I answered, but the line was quiet. Clark and Suzy are the only folks that call me from the 229 these days, so I called them, figuring maybe I didn't have one of their numbers on file and there was a bad connection or something. I didn't get anybody though, and just left a voice mail. Well, Clark was calling me back because he'd just gotten the message. No, it wasn't them, no idea who it was, but they were on their way back up to Sautee and wondered if I was up to a little Adventure up that way.

I was. In fact, both of my prospective Adventures were in that vicinity. What luck!

They'd been in Atlanta Friday and Saturday cooking at the Atlanta Cheese Festival and Eggtoberfest on respective days. They were ahead of me though, and would probably be about finished unpacking up by the time I got there. Woohoo!

Everything worked out. I got to their place in good time. They were just about picked up. We relaxed for a half hour or so, but then decided to go for a hike up the Raven Cliffs Trail, which was one of my prospective Adventure plans.

It had been dry at my place, but had apparently rained up there some time earlier, and the trail was slick. Not exactly muddy, just slippery. Good old clay. Got to love it if you live in Georgia.

We survived the clay though, and made it to the cliffs.

Raven Cliffs

There's a bit of a clearing that seems like a logical place to stop when you get near the cliffs, but since there were a lot of people coming and going, we moved a bit to the side of it. Almost immediately after doing so, a guy started spitting and slapping himself and stamping like mad, off to my left. His unconventional tantrum raised my eyebrows, but my mind didn't immediately match those behaviors to any known pattern. I was unsure how to react. What was the meaning of this interpretive dance? Should I flee? Render aid? ??? ?????? But then I saw a small swarm of yellow jackets emerge from the ground at his feet, and it was clear. They were uncomfortably close, and he seemed to have an above-average fear of them.

I backed away, and we crossed to the other side of the creek on some rocks.

"Yellow jackets don't know how to cross water, right?"

People kept coming and going, stopping right there, and noticing the nest. Some had calm, measured responses. Others danced wildly. Then others stood idly by, oblivious until the swarm engulfed them. We motioned and pointed and shouted "Yellow Jackets", but the water was loud, and they were probably Bulldogs fans anyway. Go Dogs. Beat Tech.

I did walk over and get one lady's attention though, and it was lucky because she was allergic.

Everyone up there had selfie sticks. Like, literally everyone. Well, not literally. I didn't. Clark and Suzy didn't.

Clark and Suzy

I don't know what the kids are up to these days. Back in my day if you wanted to take a picture of yourself you had to do it with your own outstretched arm. Darned kids and their newfangled whatsits.

I guess technically it was adults with the selfie sticks though. Darned adults.

On the way back we took a couple of detours. Long ago I'd seen a side trail that appeared to switch back to the east. Raven Cliffs is an old rail bed too, and recently, with all the old rail beds I've been exploring, and all the switchbacks I've seen on them, I figured that's what this side trail was. I wanted to see if it took the trail up over the falls.

My memory was totally faulty though. We explored several little side trails, all of which turned out to be old skids. None of which were anywhere near where I'd remembered that one to be. In the end, we found the trail I'd been thinking of, but my mind had moved it much closer to the falls than it was, and it wasn't a switchback anyway.

Clark says I'm getting old.

On the way out we stopped at one of the smaller falls for a minute.

Falls on Dodd Creek

The recent rain made it really flow, but that same rain made the trail down to it really sketchy, so that was about the closest we got to it.

From that vantage though, one of the deep stacked-stone fills that once supported the rail bed was clearly visible.

Deep Fill

It's a familiar sight these days, but that's about the deepest one that I know of on any of those trails.

We took the old route out to the highway and then enjoyed diversity-of-trail-experience by taking the road back to the parking lot.


We also found where the old rail approached from the south. It looks like there might have been a pretty big trestle there at some point, spanning Dodd creek and most of what's now become a campground. Some day when it's cold and nobody's camping, I'll have to go back and see if I can figure out exactly where it crossed. It looks like it might have run along the east side of the creek too, rather than along the current route of the forest road. Might have to check that out too.

Someday though, not today.

We headed back to Casa del Neal to feed their dogs, then over to La CabaƱa to feed ourselves. Next time I go there, I'm trying their enchiladas. Their Chile Colorado is good, but I'm developing a hankering for some enchiladas.

It's trying hard to be fall. The leaves will be turning soon and the weather will be just right. Ideal conditions for long hikes and long rides. Barring some disaster, I'll be doing as much of both as I can.

I don't think I'll be waiting long for those enchiladas.

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