Friday, November 5, 2010

Georgia Mountains in autumn



Last week-end, after watching the weather forecast predicting sunny days, we decided to drive to the North Georgia Mountains. We left early on Sunday morning, October 31st and returned home on November 1st. It took us less than 2 hours to drive to Helen, a mountain town with a “touch of Bavaria.” When our daughters were growing up we visited the area several times and stayed at the close-by Unicoi State Park. We had not been back for many years and had forgotten how lovely it is there in autumn. We decided to find the scenic Chattahoochee River Road, also known as Forestry Road 44, where we entered the Mark Trail Wilderness Area which has a total of 16,400 acres. It is an unpaved logging road, very narrow, going up and down where you can drive at about 10 miles per hour, at most.

After driving a couple of miles into the wilderness you certainly feel like you are a long way from civilization. I drove carefully and did not look on the outer side of the road which was going down quite steeply.

It certainly was a wilderness and all sounds of civilization were gone. Maybe if we had been there many years ago we could have come upon some moonshine production?

Vintage postcard of moonshine still in the mountains

The autumn colors were surrounding us and I stopped the car, in the middle of the road, to take pictures – hoping no other car would come in the opposite direction.


Click on collage to enlarge then click on each picture to enlarge again

Winding around the mountains we could see more glorious colors, either by looking around to the trees, the ground or up to the sky, which was a clear blue. The scent of the vegetation had that special autumn richness. It felt good to be alive.






We saw several camping areas. Being Sunday afternoon most people had already left.



The camp fires were out


and no garbage was around to tempt the wildlife living in the forest, hopefully…



As I stopped the car to take pictures my husband would walk up nearby trails. Not far, at the crest of these Blue Ridge Mountains you can reach the Appalachian Trail which goes all the way to the state of Maine – about 2,179 miles or 3,507 km long.



We kept driving along little waterfalls, rocky outcroppings, and could hear and see streams below us.



We had started our drive at the Unicoa Gap about 10 miles ago and now there was a fork on the road and we were not sure which way to go. Luckily we found a sign and we drove on towards the Low Gap Creek.



It was nice and flat there and we walked around in a deep blanket of dead leaves.


The water in the rushing streams seemed so pure.



As an aside information, I found out that the Mark Trail Wilderness had been named in honor of Mark Trail, a daily newspaper comic strip character created by the American cartoonist Ed Dodd. There were some magazines for boys also in the 1950s called Mark Trail.



In a clearing we saw a small cabin. It was a ranger check station.


The Chattahoochee River originates in the mountains nearby and is a small stream, meandering through the forest.


The flow increases at it goes down toward Helen. It increases even more as it gets to Atlanta, see my post: “Trails along the Chattahoochee” here.



Coasting down our scenic drive, the road became wider and we arrived in the little mountain town of Helen. This village has a long history. First, the Cherokee Indians lived all around the mountains and Indian burial mounds are still there, actually two miles south of town.


Nacoochee Mound, Indian Burial Grounds (from the Web)

Then early settlers came to mine for gold and cut all the virgin timber. But by the 1970s it was a failing small town. Businessmen asked a nearby artist to draw some plans for the town. He had been stationed in Germany so he sketched buildings with gingerbread trims and gave the town an Alpine look. Buildings painted with scenes from Bavaria, cobblestone alleyways and German restaurants and gift shops give the town a real Alpine look.




It was still light when we arrived in the village and we could hear the music celebrating the last day of Oktoberfest.



We selected a German restaurant, the Heidelberg. We had some good German food accompanied by German beer.



After dinner we walked a bit in the town.

Don't forget to click on the pictures to enlarge them

There were many children in costumes for Halloween and some adults too - everyone having a great time.


41 comments:

dutchbaby said...

This looks like God's country here. I find the vintage postcard of the moonshine still quite remarkable. I like the heading "A Typical Moonshine Still...", proving how prevalent these operations really were.

Did you happen see any governors on the way to the Appalachian Trail? Probably not.

I love the artwork of the Mark Trail magazine.

That beer at the Heidelberg looks mighty fine right now. I just finished covering our patio furniture and worked up a bit of a thirst. Thanks for the suggestion!

Can you believe my verification word is "patiocyb"? I think it stands for "Patio? Chill your beer!"

My Carolina Kitchen said...

We live very near here. It is a gorgeous part of the country. I continue to be fascinated with the history of the Cherokees.
Sam

Dedene said...

What a beautiful part of the world. And you got to visit Germany at the same time! The beer even looks better than regular US beer.

Friko said...

This is beautiful countryside. How quiet and empty of people it all looks.

To have a little town like Helen modelled on a Bavarian Alpine village is really strange, especially as there is no other connection to Germany. Are any of the shops and restaurants actually run by Germans?

Every time you go somewhere and blog about it, I learn something! Keep up the good work.

lakeviewer said...

Beautiful! We camped out in the Smokeys when our children were little. Such beauty!

Margaret Bednar said...

Germany in Georgia! I love it. The photos are truly beautiful - amazing what a few "minutes" off the beaten path will show up. I too love the old postcard. Thanks for the mini "vacation" :) I can't wait to see the Blue Ridge Parkway between Thanksgiving & Christmas... we are planning a trip already.

Vagabonde said...

Dutchbaby – we did not get close to the Appalachian Trail, but it was in the neighborhood. As for beers, my German beer was good but my favorites are the West Coast IPAs.

My Carolina Kitchen – if you live close by you do live in a wonderful area. Thanks for stopping by.

Dedene – I have been to Germany a couple of times, but driving to Helen is much closer and the food is as good.

Friko – Yes I believe some of the merchants are Germans, or at least of German heritage. Many imported food and gifts come from Germany. While we were in Helen we did hear German tourists speaking….in German!

Lakeviewer – The Smokeys, the Blue Ridge and the Appalachian Mountains are truly beautiful areas of the US. I am pleased you visited them.

Margaret Bednar – I hope you have good weather during your trip on the Blue Ridge Parkway and take many pictures. There are so many lovely panoramas along the parkway, and animals too…like bears.

Elaine said...

What a wonderful Sunday drive! The countryside is very beautiful, and your photos are so lovely. Then to be able to spend time in that little German town made for a great mini vacation.

Linda Reeder said...

Thanks for the beautiful trip through beautiful country.

Vicki Lane said...

Lovely pictures! I've heard of Helen but never visited. What a strange apparition in north Georgia! But why not?

Leesa said...

I ALWAYS LOVE coming over to your blog to look at your GORGEOUS pictures! Fall time is really something else.. and something that I really appreciate about living in a country with all 4 seasons...
I am glad you got out of the city to see some of the beautiful views of nature!
Have a wonderful weekend!
Leesa

marciamayo said...

Vagabonde, yet another gorgeous post. I envy your ability to put together so many beautiful words and pictures.

Ruth said...

It is so nice to see the rugged hills still there for walking in solitude, for nature to take its own way.

We have a German town something like that too, though it is not all created to look like that. They have a couple of very large restaurants where you can go get a big chicken dinner served family style. They are extremely popular and even have busloads of tourists stop by. The secretary in my office is going there for Thanksgiving with her family.

DJan said...

As usual, you not only give me great pictures of your adventure, but also some history I didn't know about before. It's always such a pleasure to come over to see what you have written about, VB.

Pondside said...

It's a beautiful part of your country, and one I hope to visit in 2011. I've only been to the parts of Georgia along the coast and to visit an aunt in Hinesville - not a pretty area.

Pamela said...

I loved the trip! Autumn is a perfect time to enjoy nature. An as for Helen, nothing surprises me: We found a typicall German town in Brazil, with Oktoberfest and all!

maría cecilia said...

Hola dear Vagabonde, nice to know the places you have been traveling around with your husband. That oktober bear fest reminded me that I had a great time once ....
muchos cariños
maria cecilia

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

Such a very beauitiful area....And with so much History....You really travel everywhere and I thank you for sharing it all with ALL of us! It is fascinating that there is so much American Indian History here and then, suddenly it is as if we are in Germany...! I had no idea!
BEAUTIFUL Pictures, as always, my dear!

Shammickite said...

That was a lovely way to see the autumn colours and to enjoy Hallowe'en in a fascinatig small town. I would have loved to join you on this adventure!
There ia a big Octoberfest tradition in S Ontario around the Kitchener Waterloo area, where there are many families with German ancestry, in fact the old name for Kitchener was Berlin!

Fennie said...

It is just so big, isn't it? America - or rather the US. The thought of a walk of over 2000 miles is quite overwhelming. At least to us. Beautiful pictures as always and how odd that little bit of Germany there.
Glad your train was deserted. Suppose there were several cars in convoy coming each way!

alwaysinthebackrow said...

I've always loved the idea of the Applachian Trail. When I read the Bill Bryson book "A Walk in the Woods", it has made me like it even more. Someday, I would love to get to this area to visit and do a little hiking. Thanks for the preview!

Zhu said...

How gorgeous! This is what Canada looked like... a month ago. We had our first snow on Halloween and although it melted quite fast, I know more is on the way... Trees are bare already.

tasteofbeirut said...

Thanks for the dépaysement! I have never been to Georgia; what a lovely State Park. I would welcome a distant encounter with bears or Indians. That little town looks lovely and that beer very refreshing!

Ann said...

thank you for this wonderful post!! it brings back memories of visiting my relatives when I was younger. Your blog always brings me so much happiness!!!

livininlb said...

Your pictures are so beautiful that it really makes me miss our yearly trek to Helen and Unicoi. Thanks for the memories!

Deborah said...

Vagabonde, it sounds like you had quite a wonderful outing - a peaceful, pretty exploration with no particular agenda, just going where your wishes took you.

I had completely forgotten about the character Mark Trail - used to read that comic strip when I was a kid. My god, it seems like something from the very distant past...

You always seem to take such good advantage of having the freedom to travel, to explore new and familiar places. Thanks for this latest travelogue.

♠ ♠ ♠ Nancy ♠ ♠ ♠ said...

*** Hello Vagabonde :o)!!! Une belle publication chez toi, comme toi seule sait les faire ! C'est SUPERBE ! :o) MERCI Vagabonde ! je te souhaite un très bon début de semaine ! GROS BISOUS à toi ! :o) ***

Ginnie said...

Don't you love how that Chattahoochee River gets around, VB! And Helen is something else, there in the Deep South. Who'd ever believe it could exist there, but it does. It was years ago that I visited there but I still remember it clearly. I bet Astrid would enjoy it one of these years. :)

Tammie Lee said...

so much beauty. ah, a wonderful place to wander.

♠ ♠ ♠ Nancy ♠ ♠ ♠ said...

*** Un petit coucou en passant chez toi Vagabonde et surtout DE GROS BISOUS A TOI ET AUX TIENS ! :o) ***

Angela said...

Thanks again, Vagabonde, another lovely post! I liked that trail and the photos - that would have been MY excursion. I as a German would find it very funny to suddenly come to that town, in Georgia. Did they sell black bread? That´s what I missed most in the US.

Vagabonde said...

Elaine, Linda Reeder, Leesa, marciamayo, DJan, Maria Cecilia, Lady from the Hills, Fennie, alwaysinthebackrow, Zhu, tasteofbeirut, Ann, livininlb, Deborah, Ginny and Tammie Lee – I am pleased you came along on our little trip to Georgia, there are many different landscapes to visit.

Vicki Lane – if you go to Helen, don’t go on a week-end as there are too many people and you would not like it. Better go away from a holiday and during the week.

Ruth – I’d like to go to your German town, it may be more authentic than ours. There are many places in Georgia where you can be alone in the woods, or on the beach – now is a good time.

Pondside – which part of Georgia will you visit in 2011? Let me know if I can be of any help with your plans.

Pamela – I think most people like to have a party, so this is why there are so many places to celebrate Oktoberfest, but in Brazil? It’s a bit far.

Shammickite – I just finished a book about immigrants to North America. I read that in the mid 1850s to 1900s thousands of Germans came over. It is nice that they kept so many of their traditions.

Nancy - merci mille fois pour toutes tes gentilles visites. Je suis contente de te faire connaiître la Georgie.

Angela – The bakery was closed when we were there, but they did have a German bakery so they could have had black bread. They usually have what we call “pumpernickel” bread which is very dark.

Sue said...

Thank you for such a great tour of our lovely North Georgia mountains and Helen...I have not been to Helen is 20 years or more and forgot how cute it is...plus I adore German food..I was so happy to see that they finally opened a German beer garden in downtown Atlanta....Sue.

lorilaire said...

Une superbe escapade que tu nous présentes !
Les paysages sont superbes, c'est très dépaysant pour moi la petite normande que je suis !!

sablonneuse said...

Fascinating posts and stunning photos. Thanks again.
Going back to your last post, my grandfather always insisted that we were descended from the Huguenots but I've never tried to find out if this was true.

Mary said...

What a wonderful post. I'll wager you had as much fun taking the pictures as we did seeing them. Thanks for sharing the beauty with us. Have a great day. Blessings...Mary

rauf said...

i was just wondering if any bears were around and there you are ! bears and you. Very strong sunlight on lovely roads. Clean water is so precious and rare Vagabonde. Good to see native Indian names. i have seen pictures of some deserted settlements around abandoned mines.
They tell a sad story. Survival is so cruel. The Journey of Natty Gann was an unforgettable movie for me.

fly44d said...

Very nice drive. The house we have in the Santa Cruz redwoods was built in 1929 on the side of a hill overlooking a small river "valley". Someday it may be presentable to visitors. :-) Let me know if you head this way someday and we can find some west coast beer.

Baino said...

There's a town called "Helen" well that's got to go on the US tour bucket list for sure!

Buffy said...

Hellow!
I love your site, It is a pleasure to visit.
I have added your site to my site.
Please link my site to your site.
Thank you!
http://strollinguncle.blogspot.com

Marguerite said...

What an absolutely splendid day in the mountains! Your photos are gorgeous and that first one should be a on a postcard! Just breathtaking! That German beer looks good and the town is so quaint. Merci for the lovely tour, cher! I really enjoyed it! Cheers!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...