Family, Girls’ Trips, and Coastal Towns (Part 1)

Jekyll Island, GA (Day 1)

Nothing says “Fantastic Spring Break!” like having the privilege of taking your niece on her first trip to the ocean. This year Spring Break was supposed to hold the bittersweet adventure of sending my son off to the Coast Guard, but that adventure was delayed and another began. I called my mother, and by the end of the day, she, my sister, my niece, my daughter and myself were packed and off to the beach. My almost seven year old niece had never been to the ocean before, so her Aunt Athenia was very happy to take her and prepared to take lots and lots of photos. And yes, I do intend to share many of them with you.

Of course, the first photo has to be a child’s first view of the ocean…

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…but she didn’t quite cooperate on the waiting for me part, and she really didn’t want to turn around for a picture either. But as soon as she made her way down to the water, we were in for a solid morning of exploring the beach ecosystem and getting our feet wet in the waves.

It was such a joy searching for sand dollars, crabs, shells, and other beach creatures and watching my niece enjoy the beach with her mother.

We even chased a few birds here and there.

And as for me and my daughter, well we found a few minutes to have a little creative Whovian fun.

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And of course, it is always a joy to watch a teenage girl hang out with her grandmother.

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Later in the day, my beloved family managed to find a furry beach goer to hang out with. Of course, they made friends with the human beach goers as well.

By the time evening rolled around, the youngest two girls of our party needed a Disney fix, so they lounged in the suite while us old folk went for a little walk. And by little walk, I mean something in the range of a 2 to 3 mile hike through the marsh! A certain photographer/blogger forgot that the last time she took the trail she did it by bicycle. That little nature hike was quite a bit longer than memory recalled. It was, however, quite worth the trip.

For the first time ever, I saw a bald eagle in the wild! That alone was worth the hike!

However, many other natural beauties graced our vision along the rest of the hike, and the golden hours of the evening were the perfect time to witness them. As the temperature cool and the sun begins to set, the wildlife either comes out to dine or settles down to sleep (or roost as the case may be). We watched as deer nestled into the marsh grasses or grazed amongst the foliage.

We marveled at snails clinging to the marsh grasses.

And we watched in awe and wonder as the ocean birds flew about the marsh and settled down to roost for the night.

And besides the wildlife, there were beautiful landscapes to behold as well.

And the most amazing scenic landscape of all was the sunset.

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And that beautiful sunset was the end of Day 1 of our adventure. Stay tuned for more!

Sweetwater Creek State Park

I’ve recently discovered another state park gem in my beautiful home state of Georgia. What is this gem? Sweetwater Creek State Park. It is located in Lithia Springs which is just a hop, skip, and a jump from Six Flags.

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Now, you may be wondering why this is important. Well, my lovely children had the good fortune (or perhaps small fortune depending on which end of the spending spectrum you may be on) to acquire season passes to this awful…I mean wonderful…roller coaster thrill ride filled land of amusement.

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I myself, in case you haven’t caught on, am not a fan. As far as theme parks go, I would much rather spend my days searching for autographs from my favorite Disney characters or exploring the magical world of Harry Potter. However, since we don’t live in Orlando and since I prefer the natural world to the theme park world any day, I have acquired a season pass (well, really it’s a parking pass with a few benefits) to the Friends of Georgia State Parks. So, voila! Everyone is happy! I drop the kids off at Six Flags, and I head to a state park.

Now, you’re probably wondering why I didn’t figure this out at the beginning of theme park season. Well, unfortunately this was the hottest summer EVER (and trust me, because I’ve been a Georgia girl all my life), and I was suffering from an unknown illness all summer (not to worry, the source was discovered and easily treated, and I’m all better and ready for hiking season! Yay!). So, all that to say, it’s October, season of Freight Fest and every weekend trips to Six Flags (thanks to Rat Man and Cheese Boy, the dynamic duo cleverly disguised as my son and his best friend),

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and Mama needed a close-by place to go to find adventure and a bit of peace and quiet (because the “my son, Cheese Boy” part of that duo doesn’t want to take Enderchick, the minecraft warrior cleverly disguised as my daughter).

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Well, that and dear old Dad decided to get a season pass, too…For next year! For everyone! A whole year more of that dreaded theme park!

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So dear old tired Mama gets to drop half the crew off at that place and head to the woods. Good thing is, they all ride home together, so I don’t have to pick them up.

Ok, so back to my hidden gem. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect of this state park. It is one of the smaller ones and quite close to Atlanta. But like all of the state parks in Georgia, it did not disappoint. So far, I’ve hiked the same trail twice, but the view each time was amazingly different. The trail that I took was the Historic Trail and blazes red. It takes you down to the ruins of the old New Manchester Mill. This mill was built during the Civil War era, and unfortunately, it was not running for long. Soon after it began operation making textiles, Union troops captured the employees, sent them up north as prisoners of war, and burned the mill. The scorch marks from the fire can still be seen on some of the walls.

Now, this mill may have a tragic history, but that history has left some beautiful ruins for photographers like myself to hike out and photograph. The hike out to the ruins is about a half mile, give or take. The first time I went was after a long stretch of rain from Hurricane Joaquin on the coast. (In fact, that hurricane flooded Charleston, but that is a story for another day.) The creek’s water level was very high. Some of the areas where trails went were inaccessible due to the water level. However, it made for some lovely shots of rushing water. The water cascaded over large boulders (which I discovered on my next trip when the water level was back to normal).

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I managed a few good photos of the mill as well, but I couldn’t get very close to it due to the water level. The mill is situated right beside the creek, so the creekside of the mill was actually in the water that day.

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I hiked out past the mill to the end of the trail. After the mill, the trail gets a little more difficult with steep hills,

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slippery rocks,

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and narrow spots on the trail with some steep drops.

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However, it is worth the hike, because the view is gorgeous.

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Unfortunately, I was anticipating an easy hike, so I didn’t wear the right shoes. Needless to say, it made the trail harder to navigate and my feet hurt by the end. Western boots are for riding, not hiking. Hiking boots have a little more play in the sole for climbing those rocks.

When I reached the end of the trail and set up my tripod for some panoramas, the sky suddenly got very, very dark. I was caught in a sudden state of panic, because I was about a mile into the woods and not prepared for a storm. I snapped off some quick shots for a panorama that didn’t turn out at all, but I did get a shot for my monochrome photo challenge of a beautiful stump that had been shaped by the running water.

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When I felt a few rain drops, I hurriedly packed up my things, threw the rain cover over the backpack, and darted out of there…well, as much as one can dart on a wooded trail. By the time I reached the mill again, the ominous clouds had moved on and the rain threat dissipated. So, I slowed down a bit, retrieved my camera from the waterproof safety of its bag, and began the end of that day’s journey.

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I even found some cool fungi,

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a couple of interesting trees,

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and a great rock to relax on for a few minutes.

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The second time I went out to the park was the next weekend. The boys invited another friend along to Freight Fest and headed out early with our Expedition, and my husband and the girls (my daughter and her best friend, Shipwreck Samantha…check out her cool clay creations on Etsy) wanted to go up later, so I drove them out, dropped them off with the boys, and headed out to the park on this super clear, absolutely beautiful, fall day. It was a bit later in the day this time, so I only hiked out to the mill. As soon as I saw the creek, however, I was very much surprised. What was nothing but rushing water before was now a reasonable creek with boulders you could make your way across. So you know what this girl did…walked out on those rocks and got some close-up pictures! I traveled a little lighter this time…no pack, just my camera. I took the 55mm lens, so I wasn’t able to really zoom in. I was, however, able to get some good macro shots, up close and personal shots, and some great landscape views. I had my proper shoes on this time, so I was a bit adventurous with climbing up and down the sides of hills, venturing across the stream, and picking out those less traveled paths. I navigated across an off-shoot of the creek and traveled the path right next to the water on this trip.

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I was able to get right up next to those little waterfalls, and the water was calmer, so the golden hour reflections in the smoother water were magnificent! As I traveled further downstream, I found many amazing waterside views,

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and eventually, I stumbled upon a most spectacular view of the creekside of the mill. So of course this required a little trip out into the creek to get just the right shot. It also meant a short trip down a steep hillside, but there were plenty of rocks to help me down (and back up again when the time came).

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It was well worth the adventure, that is for certain! By the time I made my way back up to the front side of the mill, however, it was starting to get dark, so it was time to head back. Night was fully upon me as I exited the trail, and as I looked back, I saw a line of lanterns heading to where I had just been…a twilight tour to the mill. (I bet they had a blast. I wonder if they got to hear spooky ghost stories about that old place.”

So that was the end of my journey. Expect to hear more about this place in the future. There’s a five-mile trail out there I plan to do the next time.

Fort Yargo (Part 2: Critters and a Few Other Things)

Welcome to Part 2 of my Fort Yargo hiking adventure! If you haven’t read Part 1, go back and read that now.

Did you finish Part 1? Very good…now on to Part 2, the really exciting stuff…

Sometime between noon and one, my husband and I stopped for some really yucky organic meal shakes and water. I noticed the webbing of some tent caterpillars and strolled over for a look. As I was examining the nest looking for signs of the inhabitants, my husband pointed out another web near the water on the other side of the bench. Being a bit nearsighted, it took me a minute to find what he was pointing to. As he was verbally directing me to the wonder, he held our bouncing furry companion at bay so that she would not inadvertently destroy said wonder with a swish of her tail. Eventually I too discovered the web and was both amazed and disturbed by the scene that I found…

Writing Spider with prey

It seems that a lovely Writing Spider was also enjoying her lunch…or perhaps storing the rest of it away for later. Either way, her feast of dragonfly was rudely interrupted by a crazy photographer lady (that would be me). As I maneuvered my way around the web to the other side to get a better vantage point (and being careful not to lose my balance and fall into the lake), I heard my husband shout, “It’s coming after you!”

And indeed she was! Apparently I had jostled the web a bit, and this beauty decided she was about to catch some dinner! Alas, her hopes were dashed when she viewed the size of her new prey. Rather than give up, however, she perched herself delicately on her strings of silk ready to be my model. And who could ask for a more terrifyingly beautiful model.

Her lovely black and gold body shone brightly in the sunlight.

Writing spider (top view)

With her head of silver fur and her many dark black eyes, she was both captivating and unnerving.

Writing Spider (head close-up)

Even more unnerving were the fangs she sported underneath these beady black eyes. But aside from the fangs, the underside of her body was fascinating. I captured a very detailed shot of her thorax where her eight long legs connect to her large shiny exoskeleton. And what the photos capture that the naked eye rarely sees (mostly because you aren’t going to dare to get close enough to view it) are the spiky hairs all over the spider’s body.

Writing Spider (close-up of thorax and fangs) Writing Spider (underside view close-up)

This lovely orb spider had woven her beautiful web next to the lake with the tell-tale zig-zag which is the signature feature of the writing spider. When we were young, my cousin and I were of the understanding that a writing spider could actually write. We offered many a paper with words on it to our writing friends one summer. Now that I’m older, I know that unless they are named Charlotte, they can’t really write anything other than z’s, but it made for a fun summer nonetheless. On this particular occasion, however, I was lucky enough to capture a photo of this lovely lady extruding silk from her spinneret to weave her web.

Writing Spider (abdomen close-up with spinnerette extruding silk)

These amazing creatures are both beautiful and frightening, and I feel privileged to have been allowed the chance to photograph one at such close range without conflict.

Writing Spider (side view with lake in the background) Writing Spider (underside view close-up)

The next little critter I happened upon was a nervous little tufted titmouse. He lit on a branch just long enough for me to snap a slightly blurred photo.

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Then there were the butterflies flitting about the edge of the lake drinking in the nectar of wildflowers. The most beautiful of the two that I captured, and the one I got the best photos of, was the Common Buckeye.

Common Buckeye Common Buckeye Common Buckeye

And the other little guy was a Red-banded Hairstreak. The pictures of him were not quite so clear, but they turned out okay.

Red-banded Hairstreak Red-banded Hairstreak

I also got a few scenic photos, two of which I displayed as the feature image for the posts. The rest of them I will show you now.

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Our hiking trip was cut a little short due to my sister needing a last minute babysitter, so we kicked it into high gear to get ourselves out of the woods and back to the car. This unfortunately proved to be a mistake as I tripped over an exposed tree root and went sailing across the path. No permanent harm done, though, just a bruised up knee and some minor scrapes.

When we arrived home, our hurry was for naught, as my mother returned home just in time to babysit. But the evening was not wasted. My husband went into the backyard and found a baby fence lizard which apparently had no problem sitting peacefully on his hand. He was also rather fond of the camera, so I got quite a few close-ups of this little guy.

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And I shall end my tale with a couple of rather good photos of my hiking companions…

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Fort Yargo (Part 1: Mushrooms)

A couple of weeks ago, my husband and I set out on a hiking adventure. We headed out to Fort Yargo State Park in Winder, Georgia. With miles of lovely hiking trails, a beautiful lake, beaches, and dozens of picnic areas this park is a happening place to be on a warm late-summer day.

Now, I bet you’re expecting lots of lovely scenic photographs of this wonderful state park; however, I must disappoint you in this for what caught my attention on this particular day was…mushrooms. Lots and lots of mushrooms of different sizes, shapes, and colors dotted the sides of the trails and begged to become my models.

And become my models they did, along with a spider, a couple of butterflies, a few flowers, and a baby lizard (well, I actually found him at home, but he gets to make his appearance here as well). I did my best to identify these fungi, but alas, I am not as adept at describing fungi as I am at describing insects, so my research did not go as well as I would have liked. I did identify a few, however.

The most common mushroom adorning our trail was the Amanita cokeri, or Coker’s Amanita. I managed several lovely photographs of these stately, pimpled, albeit poisonous, fungi.

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My favorite photos, however, were of this Mama Amanita sheltering her baby.

White Amonita (with baby) White Amonita

Another favorite of mine was the red-capped Amanita Parcivolvata. It most closely resembles that typical toadstool known for its psychoactive qualities, the Amanita muscaria. This little guy, though, is quite poisonous, so I don’t recommend consuming him in any form. Unlike his toadstool cousin, this guy sports a concave cap with lovely distinctive gills on the underside. Under his quiet canopy of leaves, he made a perfect model.

Amonita Parcivolvata Amonita Parcivolvata

This next fuzzy little guy I almost passed over until my husband pointed him out. I wasn’t sure how interesting other people would think he was, and determining that I couldn’t just go around photographing every mushroom in the forest, I decided to pass him by. My husband, however, changed my mind when he noticed him too, and for that I am grateful. Not only did he make a good model, but he has a really cool name too. He is called The Old Man of the Woods.

.Old Man of the Woods Old Man of the Woods (monochrome)

Now, I’m not quite sure about the identification of this next guy, but from what I could find, he is known as a Tylopilus Felleus. He was first classified as a Boletus Felleus but was later transferred to Tylopilus because of his pink spores (that is if I have gotten his identification correct). He is also porous on the underside, unlike his gilled cousins that we have seen so far. He made quite a striking model.

Boletus felleus

This next monster of a mushroom was quite impressive. She sported a lovely pinkish flat top that was nearly twice the size of my husband’s hand, and probably was at least twice the size of mine. She was also hiding a baby under her porous cap while our brave firefighting minion, Dave, protected their forest home (and had his picture taken with the Monstrous Mommy Mushroom).

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This next little flock of fungus I identified as Turkeytail Fungus. It is quite a lovely shelf fungus that feeds on decaying trees on the forest floor.

Turkeytail Fungus Turkeytail Fungus

The rest of my lovely models haven’t been identified as of yet (and if you happen to know, feel free to leave a comment on this post…I’m a little obsessive about identifying my subjects).

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Now, keep in mind as you venture into our Georgia forests that most of our dear mushroom friends are quite poisonous, so it wouldn’t be wise to be adding them to your afternoon salad in the park.

And that, my friends, concludes our mushroom adventure.

But wait! There’s more! And trust me, you won’t want to miss this! (Warning: if you suffer from arachniphobia, you will not want to read tomorrow’s post.)

Fort Mountain State Park

Fort Mountain State Park…my latest hiking adventure. My trusty hiking companion, Dixie, and I set out for another grand adventure last Saturday. Two and half hours and one nervous Aussie Mix later, we left the comforts of civilization (meaning all cell phone signal was lost) and entered the mountain wilderness.

Atop the mountain are several trails that link and criss-cross and such. Now, the map shows that these trails should equal a little less than a mile; however, that only includes two of the five trails up there and certainly does not include walking them more than once. So, I managed to turn that less than a mile into somewhere between three and five. I’m not really sure how far I traveled as I was conserving phone battery and not using my handy-dandy endomondo tracker app. I managed a good many steps on my fitbit pedometer though.

Well, the first place Dixie and I checked out was the Stone Tower at the mountaintop. There was quite a bit of caution tape about the place. I’m not quite sure what they were working on up there, or even what was supposed to be roped off, but we explored a bit. I went to the right of the tower, and there was a window on the lower level. If you looked through the window, you could see straight through the window to the back of the tower and out into the woods beyond. I thought it made for a good photo opportunity, so I snapped a few shots. I tried one of the shots out in a chroma key software demo, and it makes quite a nice backdrop for a photo shoot. In fact, after trying out the software, I may see about doing some chroma key work for photo shoots. Rabbit trails…ok, back to the topic.

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After, exploring and photographing the stone tower, Dixie and I decided to head down another trail to the back and right of the tower. The path led around and, I assumed at the time and correctly by the way, back across our original trail. We heard something crashing around in the trees out to our left. I saw the limbs crashing around, but I never saw what was causing the commotion. A little further down the path, we came across a family. As I was about to turn to the right down the Stone Wall Trail, the guy in the front calls out, “There’s a bear down that way! I saw it, and we headed in the other direction.” Of course, I was like, “Cool, I think I’ll go get a picture.” I headed, well, in the direction of the bear. (As a side note here, animals scare me way less than people do.) I had traveled about a hundred feet or so, when the family we met started in our direction. Now, whether that was to keep an eye on the crazy woman with the camera who wanted to photograph a bear to make sure she didn’t get eaten, or whether to get a closer look at the bear I didn’t seem afraid of, I’m not sure. But they followed behind, and sadly to say, we didn’t see that bear. I did, however, see a Great Spangled Fritillary and got several pictures of his pretty self. After all, who can resist a big beautiful orange and black butterfly.

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We explored the trail and the Stone Wall a bit, all the while keeping an eye out for bears. I say we, but I think Dixie was just interested in anything that moved really. We crossed over the Stone Tower Trail, and we headed on out the Stone Wall Trail. A little way down the trail, Dixie got a scent and kept trying to run after something. I’m not quite sure what she was after, but I heard a lovely little twitter in the trees in the direction she was heading, so away we went. I spotted a lovely little yellow bird flitting about and twittering, so we sat down on a rock outcropping and watched and photographed. It took me three days to identify this little guy from the photographs I took, but I think I finally identified him. I believe he is a Pine Warbler. He was quite lovely and had a captivating little tune to sing.

Pine Warbler Pine Warbler Pine Warbler

From there we headed out to the overlook. The view was breathtaking. The blue-gray of the mountains in the distance, the sun rays streaming through the clouds to bathe the mountains in light, and the hawk flying about looking for a meal. The sun was bright, and it was a bit warm out, but we lingered about for a spell to take a few photographs.

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After leaving our lofty perch, we headed back up to the Stone Tower, then circled back down to the bottom where we were parked, and then we followed another trail that led us right back to the overlook. I took a few more photographs, playing with the exposure settings and such. Then we took one more trip around the Stone Wall Trail and headed back to the car.

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At the car, we looked at the map (which, by the way, I didn’t bother taking with me on the trails). The Lake Loop Trail and the Big Rock Trail were both near the picnic shelters and cabins, so we headed in that direction. The first trail we came up on was the Big Rock Trail. It was listed as a very long trail, only about three quarters of a mile, so I figured it shouldn’t take too long. We walked the trail for a little ways, and I was  beginning to get the feeling that the name might be misleading. I hadn’t seen any sign of a big rock, at least not one any bigger than the others I had seen. But then we found it. It wasn’t really a big rock, per se, but more of a stream along some smoothed rock that cascaded down the side of the mountain. Pools formed in the rock in places where the stream flowed, and someone had stacked some stones in the stream. (I’ve seen these little stacked stone towers in many places now, and I’m still not sure what they mean or why people do it.) It was so peaceful here, and I stood out on the rocks and got several pictures up and down stream. Dixie and I stayed here for quite some time before moving on.

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After leaving the stream, we followed the trail on out to the roadway. There was a bench facing an open area near the storm drain outlet. I assumed, and rightly so after reading, that the bench was there to sit and watch for birds and deer (and squirrels). As we walked up the hill, I spotted a butterfly. It was a Spicebush Swallowtail. I got several pictures of this little guy before heading on. I have quite a habit of chasing butterflies.

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As we reached the top of the hill, I realized that we could cross the street and get to the Lake Loop Trail. It was late in the evening by now, and I decided that it would be a nice way to end the day. So, around the lake we went. It was a peaceful walk until we neared the beach. Being hot that day, many people apparently decided that going for a swim was a good idea. You could hear laughter and splashing all the way across the lake. There were several people enjoying the evening in kayaks, canoes, and on paddleboards. I don’t think anyone had the paddleboats out though. I took quite a few nice photographs around the lake.

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By the time I got to the side of the lake where all of the people were, the sun was shining through the trees creating an ethereal glow. It was almost as if you could gaze through a veil into another world. It made for some lovely photographs, along with a canoe sitting just off of the beach awaiting its rider’s return.

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All in all, it was not a bad day. In fact, it was quite a beautiful day. I can’t wait to go back and try out the Gahutti Trail (8 miles of wilderness beauty).

Cloudland Canyon

Two weeks ago, Dixie and I headed for the mountains to hike some trails. We started out early and packed all of the essentials…water, protein bars, a collapsible dog bowl, the camera, and a walking stick. Then we headed off to Cloudland Canyon State Park, just a girl and her dog hitting the rugged trails.

There is nothing I like better than exploring, especially exploring the wilderness. And there is no better place to live than Georgia for a girl who likes to explore. I know I’m a little biased having been a Georgia girl my entire life, but I must say we have some of the best state parks in the country. Well, I haven’t really been everywhere, but they’re the best I’ve seen yet. All the trails I have hiked so far have been clear cut, well marked, and have extraordinary views, and the parks are clean and the DNR rangers and staff are helpful and nice. Of course, I could go on and on singing the praises of our parks, but I’ll save that for other blogs of my amazing hiking adventures. For now, I’ll just sing the praises of Cloudland Canyon.

Dixie and I arrived at around 11 that beautiful Sunday of July 6, and we were greeted with an amazing view.

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Our first hiking venture took us to some lovely waterfalls down in the canyon. Dixie was not a fan of the grated steps leading down into the canyon as they felt a little weird on her feet; however, she was a great fan of all the people we met along the way who gave her lots of attention.

The trail down into the canyon had some of the most amazing rock formations. I couldn’t help but think that, if my daughter had been there, she would have insisted that they were minecraft rocks. There were many that had such perfectly rectangular edges. They looked as if they were carved or as if someone had made a massive stone wall, stone by stone.

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And in other places the stone was smooth and round, like this massive boulder we passed under…

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We could hear water dripping or rushing all around us for the entirety of our walk along the waterfall trails.

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And it was a bit wet, slippery, and muddy in a few places, so my hiking boots were a great footwear choice.

Thankfully, we managed, by a random decision to take the righthand path first, to descend the harder trail to the Hemlock Waterfall. It was well worth the trip as we came upon a breathtaking view of a small waterfall descending straight down into a rocky pool with a large boulder.

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I managed to capture a lovely photo of the bottom of the fall after securing Dixie’s leash to one of the railings (she wiggles a bit much when I’m trying to get photos).

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The pirate in me managed to find the “x marks the spot”. I wonder if there was any buried treasure in that stream…

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After exploring a bit more, consuming water and protein bars, and taking a few more photos, Dixie and I trudged back up out of the canyon. Then we took the lefthand path to the Cherokee waterfall. It was a much easier trail, but the waterfall was just as beautiful. This one cascaded down into a green pool surrounded by the canyon walls. I would have loved to have a house right next to it. It was so secluded and beautiful. The temperature down near the falls was much cooler as well. It was perfect for a hot summer day.

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We stayed here and enjoyed the view for quite some time (along with many other people who were camped out on blankets or hammocks or just lounging on the rocks). Then we headed up and back to the car for a quick break and to restock our backpack before attempting the West Rim Loop trail.

Well, the West Rim Loop is a four mile trail around the rim of the canyon, and I must say, four miles on mountain trails is nothing like four miles in my neighborhood.  Thankfully, I thought to take my hiking stick with me. It proved useful for most of the trip for balance on the steep parts. My knees thank me, I’m sure.

It wasn’t too far into the hike before we reached an outcrop with a beautiful view.

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The rocks up here were very interesting. One in particular reminded me of one of those cartoon eagles blasting off into the sky.

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Or maybe I just have a good imagination.

We walked around on top of the rocks, and there were cracks between them with long drops to the ground below. Yet, even in this rocky terrain, little trees and bushes still manage to take root.

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After stopping here for quite some time, we took off to finish the rest of the trail. I took a few more photos, but eventually the light began to grow dim in the more dense parts of the wilderness. The trail began to seem as if it would never end, and I couldn’t hear the water anymore. I began to get a little nervous, as it was getting late. The trail was quite long, and I hadn’t seen anyone in a little while. In time, however, I reached the bridge where I started the loop and was back to familiar territory. Dixie and I were both getting quite tired by that point, and I was beginning to stumble over roots.

Speaking of roots, I took a photo of these snaky roots before I began getting tired and clumsy…

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Oh, and a cloud, and some vegetation, and the canyon wall across from where I was…

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And in the end, Dixie and I made it out of the wilderness tired but happy. All in all, we hiked over 7 1/2 miles of trails. It made for a full, well-spent day. And we can’t wait till our next adventure.