Amicalola Falls

Back in late April Cassia and I realized that we’ve lived in Georgia nearly three years and seen hardly any of its natural beauties. Having recently watched Ken Burns’ epic-length miniseries “The National Parks” and participated in a Scouting conference in the north Georgia mountains, I was eager to take the family on a day trip to see some of the beautiful scenery that lay just a brief 90-minute drive from our house. Our chosen destination: Amicalola Falls State Park.

We arrived around lunchtime and I had the opportunity to test-drive my new Weber portable grill while Cassia supervised the kids on the nearby playground equipment. I didn’t attempt anything fancy, just hot dogs and grilled chicken in a marinade recipe Cassia got from her dad. I took a chance and grilled some in-husk corn on the cob, which turned out surprisingly tasty even without butter on hand. I was proud of my newfound manliness.

It's hard to imagine a picnic without hot dogs, watermelon and chips.

Cassia required a picture of me at the grill, so here it is.

During the picnic, Cassia found that an inchworm was making its way across her leg.

Sometimes you've just gotta dance.

Jonathan doesn't remember what he was doing in this picture. "Maybe I was just trying to be a cheetah or something."

Kathryn would roll around in the dirt (and run away from us) when allowed to roam free.

So, into the stroller she went. You can tell she's still trying to process the implications of this new situation.

Apparently too cool to continue eating at the picnic table, Jonathan ate his grilled corn under a tree.

Apparently, he started a fad.

Emma's become quite a "flower girl" in recent months. Hopefully the forest doesn't mind losing a few of its blossoms.

Jonathan and Emma built a "tree clubhouse" using a large branch and a log, which they planted in the ground next to a rock. Jonathan's quite proud of his creation!

Emma appears somewhat chagrined that one of her blossoms has lost a petal.

Kathryn begins to realize the implications of her confinement.

"Sheesh, what can I do to get outta here?"

After lunch and cleanup, we headed off to see the falls. Upon learning that it was a nearly one-mile hike to the base (and not knowing how our three little ones would fare on such a trek), we decided to drive to the top of the falls, where we presumed it would be a quick hop and a skip to get to where we wanted to be. Unfortunately for us, not only did the top of the falls turn out to be pretty boring, but the only way to get to the base from there was to take the stairs–425 steps to the bottom, and then all the way back again. That was an even less attractive proposition than the one-mile hike!

Here we are at the top of the waterfall. "This was NOT the escape plan I had in mind!" Kathryn wails.

The top of the falls. Not exactly what we came to see.

But the view of the valley below was nice.

So we wandered around a bit. Soon we found a trail that led gradually down the mountain. Then it was steeply down, with foot-size rocks that didn’t like to stay put when you stepped on them. I was still basking in the afterglow of my grilling experience, so I was confident that we’d be at the base of the falls in no time. Cassia wasn’t so sure at all, and wanted to turn back. Of course, we’d left the trail map in the van at the top of the mountain. But Jonathan and Emma were having a great time. We persevered.

Soon the rocks gave way to a scenic forestĀ  path and dozens of switchbacks. We saw this unique tree that appeared to have grown an elbow:

I wonder what events transpired to cause this tree to grow in the shape it did.

At long last, we made it to the end of the trail–the visitor’s center at the bottom of the mountain, well past our intended target. Without realizing it, we’d just taken the longest trail in the park (1.8 miles), with three children under 6 years in tow, no less!

Now we had a new problem: we were at the bottom of the mountain, and our van was at the top. And we still hadn’t seen the falls. So, I left the family back at the playground and fast-walked the one-mile trail to the base (including 175+ stairs), then took the additional 425-stair path to the top of the mountain and our waiting vehicle.

As I walked/ran my way up the trail, I paused occasionally to catch my breath . . . and take a few pictures.

I love feeling the cool mist on my face from a waterfall.

Driving down the mountain to meet the family, I noticed an exit to my left that I hadn’t seen before. It read, “ADA Access to Falls.” As in, the Americans with Disabilities Act. As in, a short wheelchair- and stroller-friendly path to the base of the falls. I had my big “duh” moment of the day right there.

There was a nice even path–only 1/4 mile–constructed out of recycled tires that led to the falls. Picture time again!

This is what we were missing at our view from the top.

Kathryn's pretty much had it with this trip. Also featuring the rear ends of two random strangers.

This is the best shot of me with the kids we could get. Kathryn's face grew increasingly grotesque over the next several seconds.

Two wonders of the world in one picture.

Coming from the Western desert, the amount of green in these parts never fails to fill me with awe.

So much lovely green. And best of all, no kudzu!

Parting shot: as we passed by this trickling waterfall, Kathryn cried out, "Uh-oh!" Unlike at home, it's OK for nature to spill its drink.

One Response to “Amicalola Falls”

  1. That was quite wonderful. Thanks, Love, Gramma

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