Tuesday, December 22, 2015

High Shoals Falls

I'd ridden all over Saturday-before-last, so the following Sunday, I figured it'd be a good idea to do a little hiking. Sophie is the only other member of my family who can be convinced to go hiking, so I brought her along.

Our first stop was the High Shoals Falls Trail.

Here is Sophie, on that trail.

Sophie on High Shoals Falls Trail

And here is a bridge on that trail, as well.

Bridge on High Shoals Falls Trail

Like so many other trails in its vicinity, the High Shoals Falls partly follows and old rail bed, as is clearly indicated in this shot:

High Shoals Falls Trail - Old Railbed

...and we explored a little off trail to the north to see how clear the old rail is where it hasn't been converted into a trail. Not that clear, actually. Not impossible to follow, but it doesn't look like anyone does.

As we approached the first cascade, I saw what looked like something colorful down by the creek, but with all the magnolia and rhododendron, I couldn't make it out. Then about ten seconds later we heard a loud slap and presumed that someone had jumped off of the falls. It wasn't super cold out, so it wasn't out of the question, but it seemed a little unlikely.

What had happened, was even more unlikely though...

As we approached the deck, we were met by a guy pulling a kayak out of the water. He'd hiked it in, put in above the falls, and then shot the falls. We missed it by less than a minute. His girlfriend was there with him and had apparently looked away right as he'd done it too, so she didn't see it either.

I can understand us missing it. We had no idea they were even there. But the girlfriend? They had planned this feat of epic bravery together, and engineered the production involved in accomplishing it. They'd packed, driven up, and portaged a kayak 2 miles into the woods, together. She knew exactly what he was going to do, and exactly when he was going to do it, and still, somehow, managed to look away at that exact moment! Her response: "I missed it, do it again."

He was not doing it again.

They were headed out as we were headed in though, so we didn't see them for long.

We did hang out at the falls for a while though.

Sophie at High Shoals Falls - First Cascade

It hadn't been raining really, but the water was raging like it had.

The second cascade was equally impressive and we stayed there even longer.

Sophie at High Shoals Falls - Second Cascade

On the way out we caught up to kayak guy, carrying his boat on his back, Himalayan Sherpa style with more weight and strain on his neck and head than I might have gone for, and ended up leapfrogging him a few times because Sophie likes climbing on rocks and just couldn't help herself.

Mountain Goat

The way out is a lot steeper than the way in, and Sophie really struggled for some of it. This seemed odd to me because she has classically been pretty strong. She didn't seem like she was out of fuel, but after stumbling a bit, pushing hard for a minute or two, and then complaining about her ears ringing, I figured it was time for a break before everything went black.

Fortunately everything didn't go black.

Her heart rate wasn't super high or low. She didn't seem dehydrated. She'd been eating. The weather was good.

I'm honestly not sure what happened. She recovered though, and didn't have any trouble later. It was weird.

Our original plan was to hike the High Shoals Falls Trail, then head south and do the Rocky Mountain loop. It was getting pretty late though, and it had taken us much longer to do the first leg than I had planned, so we decided to drive to Indian Grave Gap and just hike the AT out and back to an overlook that I'd been to once.

That was the plan.

We didn't make super good time though, and it started getting dark more quickly than we expected. Overlooks aren't so good in the dark, and though I love hiking at night, Sophie wasn't as in to it as I was. I think we made it about half way before turning back.

We got back in good time though and didn't even need the lights we'd brought with us.

Good enough.

On the way through Helen we debated: Pizza or Mexican... But then right as we settled on pizza, I remembered that there's also really good barbecue, and we opted for that instead. North Georgia Barbecue Co. We got lucky too, it was getting close to closing time and we just made it. The good thing about hitting a restaurant close to closing time though, is that they'll sometimes give you a little extra to avoid wasting it. Such was the case, and we got a few extra ribs on our rib plate.


The North Georgia Barbecue Co. is incredibly good. I'm not arguing that ...insert your favorite barbecue joint here... isn't ALSO incredibly good. I'm just saying The North Georgia Barbecue Co. is incredibly good.

I guess that was about it for that little adventure. Reasonably satisfying, all around. I might have liked to have seen Mt. Yonah from the overlook, but I guess that just leaves something for next time.

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