Monday, December 28, 2020
Sunday, December 13, 2020
Sunday, November 22, 2020
More fall foliage ...
Last week, after my walk in Nashville Centennial Park, I was going to visit another park to catch more fall foliage. Unfortunately it rained, then after a couple of blustery days, most of the leaves had blown off the trees. My little Autumn Glory maple tree that was planted last year had colorful leaves but two days later they were all gone.
Not long ago I read an article saying that just looking at still photos of nature could lower stress levels. A study in the Netherlands at the Vrije University Medical Center showed that by looking at images of nature for several minutes it had a calming effect on the brain. A professor at the University of San Diego said "There are studies that show that looking at pleasant images can provide a type of mental escape for individuals during times of moderate stress." Then I read that a small team in the Department of Psychology at Canada's University of Waterloo discovered that enjoying nature through virtual reality such as photographs "engages the parasympathetic nervous system which helps us relax, as opposed to the sympathetic nervous system - in charge of "fight or flight" responses and releasing adrenaline and cortisol." Right now, with our stress related to the virus, politics, weather and more any calming effect is welcome. I looked at my autumn photographs to find a pretty one.
While looking I found many photographs of Cloudland Canyon State Park that I had taken a couple of autumns ago. As you may recall, while driving back from Atlanta to Nashville, I would stop in Trenton, a small Georgia town in the mountains where I would sell some of my books at a second-hand bookstore. To get there I had to drive through the Chattahoochee National Forest in Georgia and then drive around several switchbacks and steep ascents, pass by Cloudland Canyon State Park then descend toward Trenton. Cloudland Canyon is located in Rising Fawn, Georgia, on the western edge of Lookout Mountain. It was named after the child of a Cherokee Indian chieftain. The Cherokee Nation occupied the area then and their custom was to name their child after the first thing they saw. So at dawn, the chief saw a fawn rise from its bed and thought that he hadn't seen anything more beautiful. He gave the name Rising Fawn to his child. After the land grab by the white settlers the Cherokees were banished from their ancestral land and sent to reservations provided by the US Government in Oklahoma. Their route came to be called the Trail of Tears.
The village had several names until it finally was changed to Rising Fawn to honor the Cherokees. It is located in the northwestern part of Georgia, close to Alabama and Tennessee. Starting in 1939 the state of Georgia purchased parcel of lands close to Rising Fawn for a state park. The Civilian Conservation Corps then worked on connecting highways to Cloudland Canyon State Park.
That November I left early for Trenton and decided to stop at the park. Years before, in winter, my late husband and I had stayed there for a long weekend, but I had taken few photographs. Armed with my Nikon and cell phone, I was going to take photographs this time. GA Highway 136 to Cloudland Canyon is narrow with sheer drops down the mountain on one side, and it's a bit scary. On the map below I placed a green cross where the state park is located, to the right of Trenton. (Click on collage to enlarge.)
After parking my car it was just a few steps to the spectacular panorama. With 3,488 acres, Cloudland Canyon State Park straddles a deep gorge cut in the mountain with elevation going from 800 to 1,980 feet. It has cascading creeks, dense woodland, wild caves, sandstone cliffs, 1000 feet deep canyons and two stunning waterfalls tumbling over layers of sandstone and shale into pools below. The views are breathtaking.
As mentioned above my late husband and I had stayed in one of their cottages. Now they also have yurts and offer campsites for tents, trailers and RVs, as well as backcountry and pioneer campsites. There are picnic areas and shelters, a gift shop, 16 miles of horseback riding trails, fishing, caving, canyon climbing, and more. Below are a cottage interior and a yurt and yurt interior.
Near the information panel I could get a glimpse at one of the waterfalls.
I walked a bit to the side to get a better view.
The other side of the canyon was also quite scenic, but I did not want to get too close to the edge.
There are 64 miles of trails. The popular trails are the Overlook Trail, the strenuous Waterfalls Trail and the moderate West Rim Loop Trail. I walked toward the Overlook Trail.
At first the trail was paved and smooth. Then it became rocky and lead to some stairs. There were too many steps for me ...
I turned around and went to sit nearby for a little rest.
I had not the time or the energy to take the heart-pumping Waterfall Trail. You have to climb down, and back, 600 stairs to the bottom of the canyon to see the two waterfalls, Cherokee Falls and Hemlock Falls. (Photo courtesy GA State Park site and Atlanta Trails.)
If you are adventurous, there is more to do in the area. Close by is the Lookout Mountain Flight Park. It is the largest and most popular hang gliding and paragliding school in the United States. They state that each year the school teaches, certifies and solos five times as many pilots as any other school. The hang gliders launch from 1,340-foot McCarthy's Bluff. It is as small business owned by the same family since 1980. (Photos courtesy LMFP.)
Thrill seekers can fly tandem 3000 feet over Lookout Mountain. I'm sure the view must be gorgeous from that height. Maybe my blogging friend and parachute jumper DJan would not think twice about hang gliding there?
But for now I'll pass, maybe later ...
Thanksgiving is coming up. I wish you all a festive Thanksgiving with your family and/or friends, or just by yourself. Stay safe.