Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Dukes/Davis Creek Falls

Three weeks ago I had a fantastic week: 120 miles on the road during the week and a Blankets/Rope Mill epic with the frere the following weekend. I was excited. I felt great and it was how I wanted all of my weeks to be this summer. Little did I know that by the following evening my throat would be sore and by the next day I'd have a fever of 102. I did, and it sucked, all week, but by the next weekend I felt well enough to help Billy move. Monday morning I still felt fine, but by that evening I was full-on sick again. Come on! Again, it sucked all week, but, again, by the next weekend (last Saturday), I felt fine. Fine enough to take the family up to Duke's Creek Falls...

During our last adventure, Iz and Kathryn weren't too happy with all of the poison Ivy and Iz was constantly freaking out by "bugs touching her." I wear knicker running tights when I hike and I've been really satisfied by how well protected they keep me from the elements. Plus, they keep me cool and dry out quickly. I figured some full-length tights might work well for them, so we stopped by REI on the way up. Turned out that the Sports Authority across the street had a better selection, but it was funny, they were having a going-out-of-business sale, and even with slashed prices, REI was still cheaper on similar items. Go figure.

We left with tights for both of them though, and though Kathryn wanted to wash hers first, Iz tried them out right away.

Oh! We also ran into Andrew and Kate Gates of Mulberry Gap fame! They were on their way back up from somewhere (they told me where, but my memory is apparently a bit faulty) and just happened to stop at the same REI we were at to grab some bikepacking gear. What are the odds? I can't remember the last time I saw them. Probably the last Drama Queen. The last time I was at MG they were in Florida. It was great to see them and there were hugs and handshakes all around. It's funny, Kathryn knew them both from Facebook but had apparently never actually met them in person. Iz and Sophie have both grown several inches since the last time they met. I may have grown an inch or two as well, in my waistline. It's funny how quick you lose it and how hard it is to get it back. We joked about such things. At any rate, it was great to see them, and since I plan on doing some of the MG events later this year, I'll probably see them again soon.

Sooo.... after all that, we headed north, parked at the Raven Cliffs Trailhead, and headed up the road toward the first campsite. Along the way Iz found this snail...


...and let it crawl all over her hand for a while.

There's apparently another campsite prior to what I think of as the first one. I only noticed it though, because they had a massive teepee fire blazing more than 15 feet into the air. As impressive as it was, I questioned the rationale behind it, as it was over 100 degrees on the road, and in the 90's in the woods. I'd even gotten a record-heat warning from the Weather Channel on my phone earlier that day!

There were folks panning for green agate among the rocks I usually use to cross Duke's Creek, so we crossed on a tangle of downed trees, which actually turned out to be easier than on the rocks.

The walk to the observation deck below the falls on Davis Creek (the big falls) was quick and easy. We passed several groups of people on the way. Some guy in one of the groups was hollering into the woods over and over and then laughing at himself. All kinds of hollering, bigfoot mating calls or something! He was having a great time.

We spent a good bit of time enjoying the falls.

Falls on Davis Creek and Sophie

Kathryn thought that it looked like a good spot for a photoshoot with the girls and wanted me to see how difficult it was to get to various places, like this perch...

Dukes Creek Perch

...and other spots on the various rocks.

There were no "Danger past this sign" signs and I've seen guys fishing in the pools below the falls, so after scouting Kathryn's locations, I played around in the water a bit.

For example, I went Hot Tubbing on Duke's Creek:

Dukes Creek Hot Tub

Woohoo! Something I've always wanted to do.

After screwing around down there we headed up to the cascade on Duke's Creek proper.

I've always wanted to do this there:

In the Pool at Dukes Creek Falls Behind Dukes Creek Falls

The pool is shallow for a while, then gets deep, then there's a big rock that you can sit on right below the falls. You can kind of stand on it and lean against the rock behind it too, to get behind the cascade.

While I was down there, a very well-dressed group showed up at the observation deck, up for a weekend in the mountains it seemed, and were somewhat amused by my ridiculousness. If nothing else, I was definitely doing my part to reinforce the stereotype that white people are crazy :) Kathryn took a couple of group photos for them. They were all from Jefferson, Georgia, which is an obscure little town, but I actually knew where it was. I'd been there before once, on the way to FATS.

We talked to them for a while, but eventually headed back out, across the creek again, and further up the road to the top of the falls on Davis Creek.

Up there you can see across the gorge.

Another View From the Top of Davis Creek Falls

Unobstructed views like that are rare in Georgia. Or, at least, naturally occurring ones are.

You can also see the observation deck below, if you know where to look. The last time I was up there I didn't see it, but this time there were people walking around and it was easy to spot.

We sat perched on the rocks for a while, enjoying the view.

Kathryn and Iz at the top of Davis Creek Falls Sophie at the Top of Davis Creek Falls Me and Sophie at the top of Davis Creek Falls

But eventually it was time to head out. We took a slightly different route back though, following the creek to the next set of campsites before turning back down the road to the car.

On the way back, I noticed a trail of trash leading from the dumpster up to the road, across the road, and then up into the woods. It didn't look the the work of raccoons. I wondered if a bear had gotten into the dumpster. I've seen signs in the lot before, warning that bear activity had been reported in the area. With a dumpster in the lot, yeah, I'd imagine.

Iz's tights seemed to work well for her. There was one spot that was a bit overgrown and she pushed through it without fear. She was less concerned about bugs too, and despite the high temperatures, wasn't uncomfortably hot. Score? It would seem so, but we'll give it a few more hikes to be sure.

We ate dinner at the Nacoochee Tavern, and wouldn't you know it, ran into Suzy Neal! Clark was down in the ATL at a Big Green Egg cookout and she was up in Helen hanging out with friends who were up from Albany. What are the odds that we'd pick the same restaurant? I say that all the time though: "What are the odds?" Considering how often it happens, I guess the odds are pretty good. They don't sound so good at first... I regularly run into friends that live 100+ miles away from me. But we enjoy the same things, all over North Georgia, and we do them a lot. I guess just the fact that I have friends that live 100+ miles away is a good indicator of how irrelevant the distance really is.

So all of that sounds great, right?

It was, until the next morning. The next morning I woke up with a sore throat, stuffy head, and fever. Again! I couldn't do much but sleep all Sunday and I was all but bedridden all day yesterday too. What does it take to kick this thing?! Maybe by the end of this week... But that's what I've been saying for as long as I can remember now. No good!

No good!

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