I went to Tallulah Gorge up in NE GA a couple of weeks back when it was nice and freezing cold (30s, which is like Antarctica to me). I took the day off from work for the specific purpose of going on a hike, so weather be damned.
You have to get a permit to hike down into the gorge, so we went and got one from the “Interpretive Center” or whatever weirdo name they had for their visitors’ center. The ranger lady sketched out a good route for us on a park map. I thought it was odd that she marked a part on the map down in the gorge that did not have trails for a good mile or so.
We wandered off onto the trails, which we thought we were way over prepared for at first, since they had that ground up rubber on some trails, and these burly handrails all over the place. Not exactly what we were used to. To get down into the gorge, we had to go down several hundred metal stairs. Not too bad, but I figured that if we have to go down these, at some point we have to go back up.
Once we were down into the gorge, I realized why there was no trail marked on the map. It was because, well, there was no trail. Just hiking through the river and over boulders for a while. I started feeling better about wearing boots and bringing trekking poles.
There was a group of college kids a little way behind us for most of the gorge. We got to this point where the ranger lady had mentioned that we would need to cross a submerged ledge to get to the other side. The picture she had shown us made it look like it was a few feet across and maybe an inch of water. Well, it was more like 40′ and 1-2′ of water. To top it off, the ledge was covered with some algae or something that had about as much traction as Crisco. I don’t mind getting wet, but being wet and cold did not really appeal to me, so we started searching for another way around.
We wandered up and down the area, trying to find another way to cross. There was a couple on the other side trying to get to our side, so we watched them for a while to see what they would do. They found a place upriver to cross after scrambling over some rock that was pretty icy. They made it about halfway across before the woman fell in. Scratch that spot off the crossing list.
While I was going up and down the bank, one of the college kids (she was actually older, but I am going to lump them all together because I am lazy) was fiddling with this log that was obviously placed by someone trying to cross. It was ~10′ long, half of which was submerged. Looked pretty rotten. A few feet covered in ice. I had looked at it several times, thinking that I could cross using my trekking poles for balance, but ruled it out for a while. The girl got the log propped up pretty well, and it started looking doable. Mind you, this was over an area with about 2-3′ of rapidly moving water. I wouldn’t have died if I fell in, but I sure would have been uncomfortable.
I left my camera around my neck as extra motivation not to fall in. Using my Lekis, I slowly edged my way across. I was the heaviest out of the five of us, so I figured that if the log could hold me, it could hold any of us. In retrospect, doing that was really dumb, especially since I had a dry sack for my camera in my backpack. Sure made things more fun though.
I got across, and everyone realized that they would have to cross too. They couldn’t look like wusses now that I had done it and proved it was doable. I need to quit leading people astray.
I passed one trekking pole to each person as they crossed and then pulled them the last few feet with my hand. Everyone made it across nice and dry. The wet couple was on the other bank, not appreciating our yells of joy.
I have done way more dangerous and technical stuff than that, but for some reason, it felt like a big accomplishment. It is nice to have a small victory every now and then.
Anyway, the rest of the hike was pretty tame. Once we crossed, we had to go up about 1/4 mile of 45 degree rocky terrain, so that was pretty brutal. At the top, it became groomed trails again, so we just moseyed on back to our cars.
Here are some more pics. I didn’t really like any of them, so I started playing around with the colors and saturation and stuff: